In His Latest Comedy Special Jerry Seinfeld Jumped Out of a Helicopter, Lensed by Jay Feather
May 5, 2020

by Kirsten Chuba, The Hollywood Reporter

The comedian also revealed that 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' has likely come to an end, and he will wait to return to stand-up shows until audiences can be full: "I don't want to compromise the experience."

In his new Netflix special 23 Hours to Kill, Jerry Seinfeld revisits familiar territory in picking apart everyday annoyances, but with an unexpected flare — arriving at New York's Beacon Theater after taking on a secret-agent persona and jumping out of a helicopter into the Hudson River. 

"I loved secret agents from when I was a kid, I loved Get Smart and Bond and [Our Man] Flint; I love James Coburn as Derek Flint and I just love that stuff," he told The Hollywood Reporter during a press conference call via Zoom. "When I came up with the title 23 Hours to Kill, I thought, 'Oh, that's cool, that sounds like a Bond movie.' My favorite scene in all of James Bond is when he unzips the wetsuit and he has the tuxedo, and then I thought, 'Well, how could I do that?,'" before landing on the idea to do the stunt himself — which he did twice for the cameras. 

"When we got down to doing it, it was a lot scarier than I thought it was going to be," Seinfeld admitted. "I thought, 'Well, it's water, I'm going to jump in the water, what's the big deal?' But I think we were about 40 feet up off of the water and that chopper's going and there's another chopper nearby with another camera and you're waiting for boats to leave. It's not like the area's even locked down like in a normal movie set — freighters and barges or tug boats are going back and forth the whole time. So we're just waiting for them to clear so we could jump out. Both times I really had to swallow hard and just do it." 

That also included training for the jump on a 10-meter, Olympic-level platform and pool (he gives viewers a peak in the special's end credits), which is something that the comedian says now, "I think I completely misunderstood what I had said I wanted to do when I got to doing it," and although "it looks like nothing when you watch people do it in the Olympics, when you stand up there it's really scary."

Elsewhere in the conversation, Seinfeld addressed where he sees his career going, especially in a future of coronavirus-restricted comedy, and revealed that it's likely his hit show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee has come to an end. 

"We haven't planned anything with that show, I kind of feel like if I did that tour," he said after filming 80 episodes of the Crackle-turned-Netflix series. "I know they look very casual and easy, but they're actually kind of a lot of work to make, the editing is very intense. I don't know, I feel like I may have done that exploration at this point." 

Seinfeld also revealed that he's not sure if there's another comedy special in his future, as evidenced by his motto, "Don't overstay your welcome."

"I'm not the biggest fan of people hanging on to the bitter end. My pattern is to leave just a little sooner than you think I was going to — even this special, Netflix told me I could make it an hour and five [minutes], an hour and 15, and I always like a little economy," he admitted, comparing it to choosing to end Seinfeld early even though it could have ran for a few more seasons. "From a lifetime vantage point, I don't want know, it's just how I think — I might not want to be out there after this, doing this type of thing. I don't know, I'll have to see when I get into my 70s if I don't feel that way." 

Despite not making any solid plans for the future (though nixing the idea of doing another TV series), one thing that is cemented in Seinfeld's future is continuing to do stand-up and live shows — when those things return to daily life. With discussions of scheduling post-coronavirus performances at partial capacity to limit the spread of the virus, the comedian said he would rather hold off on going to comedy clubs until crowds can gather as normal. 

"I don't think if you're going into a theater, and it's only one-quarter full and everybody's got 10 seats between them, I don't know if that's worth doing. For me, I'm going to wait until everyone does feel comfortable gathering and so that you can relax, number one, and have a good time, number two," he said. "Whenever that happens, I'm happy to wait. I don't want to compromise the experience. I want it to be that great relief."

And in typical Seinfeld fashion, he has a coronavirus joke at the ready.

"What I've been saying about it is if I was another virus, I would be intensely jealous of this virus coming up with this two-weeks-of-no-symptoms idea — the most brilliant bit that a virus ever thought of, that we can spread without them knowing that that we're in there," he said. "The virus has got some very clever stuff." 

23 Hours to Kill is streaming now on Netflix. 

Opening Sequence Director of Photography: Jay Feather