Diary

Couch Work

29 March 2006 | Diary

By making me the comedy correspondent of The Mind’s Construction Quarterly, Neil Scott has provided me with far more power and amusement than I’m sure he would ever have imagined.

Watching sitcoms is no longer a guilty veg-fest conducted in secret behind closed doors while wearing women’s underwear. It’s work.

Yes, in this nation of workaholic career heads, watching hours upon hours of moronic pink-walled japery can actually be considered laudable. At last I am an upstanding capitalist citizen. I might even get a haircut. I might even get myself some work clothes: perhaps some sort of power-tracksuit.

Sure, I might not be writing an article about Seinfeld right now, but it’s all connected. Don’t you see? The seven hours of the wacky American sitcom I sat through yesterday was all about research. I’m very thorough like that. I hope that people in other non-comedy-based disciplines (hanging out in transitional spaces all day, no doubt) can learn from my holistic way of doing things.

“Aren’t you going to do the washing up?” asks my fascist, neo-Nazi flatmate.

No. Not right now. I’m working very hard.

The most recent observation I can make about Seinfeld is regarding its apparent non-similarity to Curb Your Enthusiasm. While it was created by the same guy, a lot of people comment upon how radically different the two shows are: one being quite traditional while the other one is semi-improvised and with a style verging on Cinéma vérité. With my amazing Comedy Correspondent’s eyes, however, I can see the similarity. Among other parallels, I’ve noticed that both shows are based around the logic of ‘the eb and the flow’ or ‘what goes around comes around’.

In Seinfeld, Jerry or George (or Larry in Curb) will in some way feed the meter of the universe. They’ll make some sort of offering to the god of sitcom New York (or sitcom L.A. in Larry David’s case) and it will come right back at them in one way or another. The most literal and instant example of that in Seinfeld is when Elaine gives a label maker to a friend only for him to re-gift it to Jerry in the next act. But it happens in every single episode, I think. Next time you’re watching Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, be sure to look out for the eb-and-flow factor (as well as comparing Seinfeld to Father Ted and evaluating the stock character qualities of the ‘Wacky Neighbour’).

Class Dismissed.



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