Far-Right Influencers Celebrate Jerry Seinfeld Once Again Claiming ‘PC Crap’ Killed Comedy

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Jerry Seinfeld performs at Carnegie Hall in 2023.  - Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/Good+Foundation
Jerry Seinfeld performs at Carnegie Hall in 2023. - Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/Good+Foundation

The beloved sitcom Seinfeld was famously never canceled, because co-creator Jerry Seinfeld and his fellow cast members decided they should walk away after nine seasons, leaving viewers wanting more. But for about a decade, Seinfeld has continuously complained that “political correctness” is stifling comedy of the kind that made him a household name and fabulously wealthy.

As long ago as 2015 — right around when our contemporary ideas of “cancel culture” were beginning to take shape on social media — Seinfeld was talking about not playing college campuses for fear of students labeling his material racist or sexist. In 2024, he’s sounding the same tune, appearing on a recent episode of the New Yorker Radio Hour to tell David Remnick that iconic sitcoms are no more because of political correctness.

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“It used to be you would go home at the end of the day, most people would go, ‘Oh, Cheers is on,” he said in the interview. “‘Oh, M.A.S.H. is on, oh, Mary Tyler Moore is on. All in the Family is on.’ You just expected, there’ll be some funny stuff we can watch on TV tonight. Well, guess what? Where is it? This is the result of the extreme left and PC crap and people worrying so much about offending other people. When you write a script and it goes into four or five different hands, committees, groups — ‘Here’s our thought about this joke’ — well, that’s the end of your comedy.”

The remarks were not substantially different from those Seinfeld has offered on the state of comedy in years past. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that he was on the podcast to promote nothing more transgressive than a Netflix movie about the invention of Pop-Tarts, far-right grievance peddlers this time seized on Seinfeld’s argument as an epic takedown of their “woke” enemies.

Among those influencers to share and celebrate the clip were serial plagiarist and misinformation spreader Benny Johnson of Turning Point USA, who tweeted that Seinfeld had “finally” gone “FULL BLAST on Left’s destruction of comedy.” Conspiracy theorist and election denier Dinesh D’Souza used the soundbite to attack pro-Palestine protesters on college campuses, writing, “One problem with the humorless activists in the camps, and in the media, is that they can’t stand to hear anyone else laugh, least of all at them!” The anonymous X/Twitter account @EndWokeness promoted the Seinfeld segment to 2.5 million followers, and site owner Elon Musk, a profoundly unfunny man who dabbles in the kind of racist ideology that inspires mass shootings, amplified their post with the caption “Make comedy legal again!” Meanwhile, conservative media outlets and organizations including The Blaze picked and Youth America’s Foundation picked up the video.

While a representative for Seinfeld did not immediately reply to a request for comment on extremists embracing his latest criticism of unspecified leftists, it’s worth noting that the comedian makes an odd ally for today’s rabid reactionaries. Seinfeld is known for working clean and eschewing curse words. Seinfeld the series remains popular and, with a few glaring exceptions, has not come in for reevaluation as a problematic comedy. (The showrunners even scrapped a 1991 episode that made light of gun violence, with Seinfeld and collaborators deciding it was tasteless.) Seinfeld was also the only one, during a notorious 2011 roundtable on HBO with Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Ricky Gervais, to protest that white people should never use the N-word (C.K. and Gervais both did so in the conversation). And, when directly asked outside a hotel last year whether cancel culture is hurting comedy, he replied, with some exasperation, “No, I don’t. I don’t.”

What’s more, right after giving the viral interview answer, Seinfeld admitted to Remnick that he has never had his jokes killed in committee as he’s describing, and that Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, who just concluded the 24-year run of the often provocative Curb Your Enthusiasm, was never artistically constrained in that way, either. Critically acclaimed and widely watched network comedies like Abbott Elementary certainly exist today, and plenty of people get their fill of racier fare with long-running cable favorites like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s possible that the perceived lack of a mega-hit like Cheers in 2024 has more to do with the rise of streaming platforms, which are brimming over with comedies that compete for attention from audiences besieged with algorithmically targeted entertainment.

Seinfeld’s directorial debut, Unfrosted, enters that same arena on Friday, for right-wingers and leftists alike to judge on its merits — including, apparently, whether it is somehow edgy or “triggering.” With a PG-13 rating, however, it seems unlikely to offend. Culture warriors can circulate Seinfeld’s criticisms all they like, but if they’re hoping he’ll start to court controversy in his act, the joke is at their expense.

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