I've seen some good ones: Louis CK at the Majestic last year. Bill Cosby, who CK himself worships, at the Winspear. I saw Todd Barry in a tiny bar in Kansas City not that long ago, and spent an hour spit-taking my Boulevard Brew. Others, too.
But this was damn near perfect.
From the moment he came sprinting onto the Winspear stage last night, to the moment he A'd the last Q of the post-show Q&A, he was in total control, building brick by brick little towers of laughter, then bulldozing them with perfect kickers and starting from scratch again.
It's the efficiency that really impressed me. He explains how he achieves that efficiency in the video above, using a bit he included in last night's set -- a long, rapid-fire joke about Pop-Tarts. It fit nicely into a longer cluster of jokes about the evolution of food, which followed a cluster about the evolution of drinks, including 5-Hour Energy ("Who works 1 to 6?") and Gatorade's three-drink "series" ("I went from the fridge to the couch: How many electrolytes did I lose?"). From there he moved onto technology, comparing our cell-phone swiping to the gestures of a gay French king and mourning the lost art of slamming down the phone.
That last joke elicited a "so true" from a woman in the row behind me. There were a lot of whispered "so trues" Saturday night. The United States Postal Service's entirely predictable woes; the stages of stuff becoming trash (drawer-closet-garage-storage-dump); the unnecessary gaps between bathroom-stall panels: He remains an expert in unpacking the irony that lives mostly unnoticed among us, and doing it with big, silly gestures that other comics of his intellect don't seem to embrace.
As each cluster peaked, sending the audience into applause, Seinfeld took a sip of water, dropped some casual banter and then started back up the mountain. As he drank and caught his breath, silence fell over the crowd, and it felt odd. There were four, maybe five little blocks of quietude all night; the rest was just laughter rising and falling, cresting and crashing.
It was, more than anything, one of the best edited pieces of art I've ever witnessed. Even in his encore Q&A, when he answered a few mundane questions about the show and his underwear choice, there wasn't a wasted syllable, not a yada to be found.