Jerry Seinfeld would be having a bad week if he wasn’t Jerry Seinfeld, but he is, so he’s really just having a week.
The latest installment of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, in which he and Steve Harvey drive a pristine vintage Cadillac around Chicago, is being released in the middle of a media cycle devoted to how Seinfeld doesn’t understand political correctness. After telling an ESPN interviewer that he [avoids colleges](http://www.salon.com/2015/06/11/jerry_seinfeld_is_a_wimp_what_his_anti_p_c_tirades_are_really_about/ because “they’re so PC,” Seinfeld spent the last several days being criticized for misunderstanding cultural sensitivity. Fortunately, he’d already addressed the issue (coincidentally) during his conversation with Harvey.
The criticisms of Seinfeld have come from several directions, but the sentiment has been fairly homogenous: Political correctness protects people with varied identities and, in so doing, creates more additional opportunities for humor than it does opportunities for offense. This is a sound argument, but Seinfeld’s job isn’t to make the world funnier. His job is to pick up a mic and be funny himself. Political correctness doesn’t help him do that.
He also knows that the people in the seats are either going to be with him or against him. As he puts it to Harvey: “The audience is all the police we need.”
Steve Harvey is actually an interesting fellow to speak to about offending an audience. Harvey came up at the Apollo but has since transformed himself into one of the least offensive comedians imaginable. Dude does a lot of smiling and daytime television and he’s unafraid to admit that he’d be hiding his chiclet teeth more if the checks didn’t clear. But even Harvey, who has enriched himself by seeming relatable, admits how much he really wants to offend his audience, to throw it in their faces.
He wants to go after people, but he doesn’t because he (to some extent) needs their money.
And that’s why Seinfeld’s point about policing resonates. Seinfeld is rich enough to choose his audiences and, therefore, his police. If he doesn’t want to be policed by people with limited life experience, that’s totally understandable. If he doesn’t want to work in a politically correct environment, that’s understandable too — regardless of whether or not he’s misunderstanding the virtues of that environment.
Steve Harvey is still playing a character. Seinfeld isn’t. Not liking Seinfeld isn’t a political issue, it’s a personal one. He might not be your kind of guy and that’s fine. He’s still got great taste in cars.