Is This Anything?

Is This Anything?

by Jerry Seinfeld


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Notes From Your Bookseller

Undoubtedly one of the most successful comedians of all time, Jerry Seinfeld makes a big deal out of nothing in his first book in 25 years. All the jokes and routines that he loves are compiled in this wonderful look at how funny he has been in his 5+ decades of stand-up. A must-read for any fan.

The first book in twenty-five years from Jerry Seinfeld features his best work across five decades in comedy.

Since his first performance at the legendary New York nightclub “Catch a Rising Star” as a twenty-one-year-old college student in fall of 1975, Jerry Seinfeld has written his own material and saved everything. “Whenever I came up with a funny bit, whether it happened on a stage, in a conversation, or working it out on my preferred canvas, the big yellow legal pad, I kept it in one of those old school accordion folders,” Seinfeld writes. “So I have everything I thought was worth saving from forty-five years of hacking away at this for all I was worth.”

For this book, Jerry Seinfeld has selected his favorite material, organized decade by decade. In page after hilarious page, one brilliantly crafted observation after another, readers will witness the evolution of one of the great comedians of our time and gain new insights into the thrilling but unforgiving art of writing stand-up comedy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 08/24/2020

Comedian Seinfeld (Seinlanguage) reflects on the absurdities of life in a laugh-out-loud volume that gathers jokes he’s written over the course of his 45-year career along with reminiscences on the lifestyle and craft of stand-up. “I was able to spend endless amounts of time on some of the silliest ideas you can imagine,” he writes. “And they’re all here.” Highlights include takes on such topics as air travel (“The closest thing we have to royalty in America are the people that ride in those little carts through the airport.”) and growing up (“How many times did your parents have to say to you, ‘Would you get up off the floor?’ Adulthood is the ability to be totally bored and remain standing.”). Throughout the sections of monologue-style jokes, which appear almost like a script on the page in stacked lines, Seinfeld inserts anecdotes from his career, such as remembering venturing to an N.Y.C. comedy club for the first time at age 20 (“every neuron in my little brain just lit up”); working on Seinfeld with producer Larry David and feeling like an “over-drained marathoner”; and doing “nothing” for two years after the series wrapped in 1998, before seeing Chris Rock perform and getting inspired to return to the stage. This sharply observed, life-in-gags treasure trove offers essential reading for comedy fans, from a master of the form. Agent: Christian Carino, Creative Arts Agency. (Oct.)

From the Publisher

Jerry Seinfeld’s new book, Is This Anything?... I enjoy opening it, pretending I’m Jerry and making my wife laugh with Jerry’s material. It’s like an artist being a copyist at a museum; you learn by emulating the strokes of others.”—Steve Martin in the New York Times Book Review

“It almost looks like a book of poetry...It made me realize a joke is a precision instrument, every word is a beat.”—Susan Morrison, The New Yorker

“This book is incredible...It’s like the best joke book you can buy.”—Jimmy Fallon

"[A] trove of laugh-out-loud one-liners but also a timeline, beginning with a kid commuting from his parents' home on Long Island to New York City to try to make strangers laugh. It continues through a career during which Seinfeld became arguably the greatest stand-up comic of his era and the pivotal figure of the funniest TV sitcom of its time.”—Associated Press

Seinfeld proudly proclaimed to be a show about nothing. Is This Anything?, Jerry Seinfeld’s first book in almost three decades, is about everything....Bit by bit, we chart his growth as a master joke craftsman. Decade by decade, we follow his life journey, viewing the world through his perspective of what he found to be funny.... Is It Anything? captures the output of one of our great comic minds.”Washington Post

“Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Comedian Seinfeld reflects on the absurdities of life in a laugh-out-loud volume that gathers jokes he’s written over the course of his 45-year career along with reminiscences on the lifestyle and craft of stand-up...This sharply observed, life-in-gags treasure trove offers essential reading for comedy fans, from a master of the form.”—Publishers Weekly,

“Admirers of Seinfeld's stream-of-consciousness observations about the minutiae of daily life will find much to enjoy here, and readers will also appreciate the window onto his evolution as a comic as he changes from a single guy in a messy apartment to the cocreator and star of a hit sitcom to a husband and father who watches (and critiques) Star Wars with his kids...a welcome treasure trove of laughs.”—Booklist

"Seinfeld’s jokes on the page makes his comedy come to life with new meaning. As you consider Seinfeld’s career, which has spanned nearly five decades, you realize that even though he claims his comedy is about nothing, you could just as easily say it’s about everything."—BookPage

"The book is consistently funny and it’s impressive that someone could have had a lifetime of so many insightful observations about seemingly mundane things... It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen..."Paul Leslie Hour

"[H]is autobiographical intro to Is This Anything? is so perceptive and engaging, as are subsequent interstitial glimpses of his offstage life..."Air Mail

"Jerry Seinfeld's new book, Is This Anything? proves that passion leads to career success."Inc. Magazine

Library Journal


Seinfeld's title is a question comedians ask one another when testing new material, and whether this book is anything depends on the reader. It's surely something that Seinfeld has compiled the best of 45 years of his comedy. Pulling from his archive of yellow legal pads, this master of observational humor groups his bits by decade, taking us from the 1970s through today. His time-spanning material ranges from pay-phone calls to texting emojis, from adolescent memories to life as a 60-plus-year-old family man, and from Life cereal to death by coronavirus. Each decade is introduced with a few paragraphs explaining where Seinfeld was in his career when he wrote a particular bit, but these serve merely as brief preambles to the material. VERDICT Despite the self-deprecating title, Seinfeld has assembled his greatest hits. Readers will delight in seeing how he mined a shifting landscape of inane commercial products, societal norms, and myriad pet peeves for laughs. Just don't expect him to reveal how all this magic works.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

Kirkus Reviews

“All comedians are slightly amazed when anything works.” So writes Seinfeld in this pleasing collection of sketches from across his four-decade career.

Known for his wry, observational humor, Seinfeld has largely avoided profanity and dirty jokes and has kept politics out of the equation. Like other schooled jokesters, perhaps most famously Bob Hope, he keeps a huge library of gags stockpiled, ever fearful of that day when the jokes will run out or the emcee will call you back for another set. “For the most part, it was the people who killed themselves to keep coming up with great new material who were able to keep rising through the many levels,” he recounts of his initiation into the New York stand-up scene. Not all his early material played well. The first piece in this collection, laid out sentence by sentence as if for a teleprompter, is a bit about being left-handed, which comes with negative baggage: “Two left feet. / Left-handed compliment. / Bad ideas are always ‘out of left field.’ / What are we having for dinner? / Leftovers.” He gets better, and quickly, as when he muses on the tininess of airplane bathrooms: “And a little slot for used razor blades. Who is shaving on the plane? And shaving so much, they’re using up razor blades. Is the Wolfman flying in there?” For the most part, the author’s style is built on absurdities: “Why does water ruin leather? / Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time?” It’s also affable, with rare exceptions, as when, taking on a mob boss persona, he threatens a child with breaking the youngster’s Play-Doh creations: “Nothing wrong with sending your child a little Sicilian message once in a while.” One wishes there were more craft notes among the gags, but the ones that are there are both inspiring and gnomic: “Stand-up is about a brief, fleeting moment of human connection.”

Fans of Seinfeld will eat this up, and aspiring comics will want to study how he shapes his seemingly effortless humor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982112691
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/06/2020
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 408
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Customer Reviews