Seinfeld on his Craft, Or: Comedy as a Path to Metaphysical Grace

by Bill Benzon

Music as a prelude to Jerry Seinfeld

I started trumpet lessons when I was ten years old or so. After about two years or so my lessons were drawn from Jean-Baptiste Arban’s Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet, which dates from the middle of the 19th century and is the central method book in ‘legit’ trumpet pedagogy. Near the end, before a series of virtuoso solos, I read words which, in retrospect, are at the center of my interest in Jerry Seinfeld’s observations on his craft. Arban observed:

There are things which appear clear enough when uttered viva voce but which cannot be committed to paper without engendering confusion and obscurity, or without appearing puerile.

There are other things of so elevated and subtle a nature that neither speech nor writing can clearly explain them. They are felt, they are conceived, but they are not to be explained; and yet these things constitute the elevated style, the grande ecole, which it is my ambition to institute for the cornet, even as they already exist for singing and the various kinds of instruments.

What, you may ask, does this grande ecole have to do with standup comedy? Everything and nothing.

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