TORONTO – Dear Jerry Seinfeld,
Your series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” where you pick up other comedians and drive them in cool, vintage automobiles to coffee bars across America, used to be considered by some the best 15 minutes on television.
You’ve taken all of us along for the ride, allowing viewers in on conversations with David Letterman, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Mel Brooks and Steve Martin. It was fun watching you unite with your former “Seinfeld” pals, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The vintage Mercedes, Jaguars, Porsches and even one AMC Pacer were all sweet rides. Your outing with the late, great comedy innovator Garry Shandling reminded those watching about the importance of friendship.
The 10th season, which started streaming in July on Netflix, also boasts big names. The episode in Las Vegas with your comedy hero Jerry Lewis was sweet and poignant, especially since it was the 91-year-old comedy legend’s last television appearance. You graciously allowed Zach Galifianakis to trick you into appearing on his savage little showbiz satire “Between Two Ferns.”
Other episodes, however, seemed to stall and run out of gas. “Saturday Night Live” headliner Kate McKinnon should have been more fun. John Mulaney’s side trip to buy a rug just didn’t cut it. The episode featuring Ellen DeGeneres made you seem especially unfeeling, particularly when talk turned to today’s volatile times.
After 10 seasons and 72 episodes, perhaps a little high-performance additive might help. So, here’s a friendly suggestion: take a road trip. Come to Canada.
You’ve featured Canadians on the show before. You went to Jim Carrey’s private art space and huddled with the most powerful Canuck on American television, “SNL” icon Lorne Michaels.
Neither of those visits, however, truly tested a vintage defroster or a heating system. Cross the border during winter months and set out for a double-double at Timmies.
You haven’t truly gripped the road until you’ve ridden with the Trailer Park Boys. Try your luck behind the wheel oftheir infamous, beyond-beat-up 1975 Chrysler New Yorker.
You’ll have plenty to talk about with “Trailer” stars John Paul Tremblay and Robb Wells, both of whom have collected classic cars.
Or, just as you did one episode with then-U.S. president Barrack Obama, come visit our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. You can ride in his dad Pierre’s classic, silver, 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL convertible.
As for our comedians, Canada’s road warrior, Ron James, has his ride all picked out.
“My dad drove a 1969 Plymouth Fury 2 Detroit-built-gas-guzzling-land-boat,” says James. “Just a Bismarck of the highway! Every time he filled up the gas tank, Saudi Arabia dropped three feet!”
James, a fan of Seinfeld’s 2002 documentary “Comedian,” would love to trade war stories, including “some of my hellish drives across the Rockies in blizzards a Yeti wouldn’t wander,” and “the importance of knowing this career is a calling and not a means to an end.”
As for the coffee shop, James knows “an excellent funky spot” near his summer home in Nova Scotia called The LaHave Bakery. His second choice, near his condo in Toronto, is Rooster Coffee House. “They have a super-charged coffee that will get you speaking in Biblical tongues of the prophets.”
Brent Butt, busy working on a second season of “Corner Gas Animated,” was asked about “Comedians in Cars” last month at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. The Saskatchewan native says he gets a similar charge talking comedy with fellow comedians on his “ButtPod” podcast.
Where “Comedians in Cars” strays off the road, for him, however, is when the show veers past true club-comedians and gives rides to wealthy TV stars. That’s when it turns into, as Butt’s American colleague Dave Attell calls it, “Millionaires in Cars Wearing Seatbelts.”
“I’d do it just to sit down and talk to Jerry Seinfeld,” says “Letterkenny” comedian K. Trevor Wilson, who suggests there would be a unique perspective that comes with crafting one’s career in Canada.
“There’s not opportunity around every corner for a Canadian comedian,” says Wilson, also a headliner this summer at Just for Laughs. “You really do this because you love it, because you’re going to spend most of your career playing the middle of nowhere for okay money in the middle of winter.”
So why do it, Wilson was asked. “Because you want to do it, because you love it; because you love making people laugh.”
There’s your reason to come north, Jerry Seinfeld.
We’ll provide the coffee, the cars and the comedians. Russell Peters and Rick Mercer, Mark Critch and Shaun Majumder, or legends such as Eugene Levy and Mary Walsh are ready to show you a good time. Do it for the laughs, Jerry.
— Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.