- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

Who was that comic on the Kennedy Center stage this past weekend, talking about stroller rage, the joys of marriage and the inanities of single life?
It couldn't be Jerry Seinfeld, the man-child comic fixated on Superman, known for his public romance with a teen-ager.
It sure did look like him even if his puffy hair has been tamed and appears to be heading slightly north.
During the first of four sold-out shows Saturday at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Mr. Seinfeld revealed he still shares his television persona's slow burns, those flummoxed reactions to the world around us. He balanced those shrewd observations with thoughts on being a father and the wisdom of the institution of marriage.
If Mr. Seinfeld has indeed grown up, the process has added grace and depth to his already sharp stand-up routine.
His last signature act, captured on the HBO special "I'm Telling You for the Last Time," included jokes about airplane travel, sky diving and other minor irritations that epitomized his career up until then.
Now, newly married and a doting dad, he has expanded his repertoire.
It's not side-splittingly funny, mind you, like Chris Rock or George Carlin running on all blistering cylinders. Mr. Seinfeld's humor resonates more than it rocks, never digging too far beneath the surface of the human condition. Each unflinchingly accurate jibe leaves little but a buoyant, fizzy aftertaste.
After ambling quietly onto the stage, hands behind his back, Mr. Seinfeld soaked in the crowd's roar, nodding his approval.
"So, we meet again," he said, dismissing any thought he might want to put his eponymous television show behind him.
A sartorial hit in a well-tailored steel-gray suit and purple tie, the comedian immediately launched into some Taliban-based humor.
The draconian government outlawed everything under the Afghan sun, he said, even kite flying.
"Who ever saw the danger there?" he asked.
On John Walker, the American Taliban fighter: "This has raised hating your parents to a whole new level."
Politics, though, soon gave way to more standard fare. America's obsession with coffee, for instance.
"All of a sudden, people are stopping for coffee on the way to Starbucks," he said, likening the chain to a university where people gather to read, write and plunk away on laptop computers.
He also did his share for widening the chasm between the sexes.
Women, he pleaded, stop drawing that dark outline around your lips.
"They're just lips, not a dead body at a crime scene."
On "Seinfeld," the actor-comic appeared stiff at times, at least when his movements were compared to the loose-limbed shenanigans of Kramer and Co. Onstage, he seemed at ease with his physicality, often mugging and preening to enhance a punch line.
The former longtime bachelor made sure to spend a good chunk of his hour and 15 minute act casting away his single days.
"Twenty-five years of being single; that is enough," he declared.
He did have a warning, though, for anyone in the audience planning that big-scale wedding of their dreams.
"Take it from your strange little TV friend," he said. "Nobody wants to go to your wedding. Why is it necessary to ruin the day of 150 other people?"
He painted a picture of a bride and groom departing midreception to consummate their marriage in a sunny clime, leaving behind 100-plus poor saps.
"Enjoy the dry cake and our relatives," they cry as they flee.
The still-content husband spoke glowingly of his wife, ticking off her wonderful qualities with alacrity.
"But fl" he said, his delivery suddenly tense.
"We have a tone-of-voice problem," he said. "I'm often told I'm speaking in the wrong tone of voice. I can't bring my own voice in my own home."
The exchanges, whether blasting singledom or dubiously named breakfast cereals, affirmed that the comic can rest on his gazillion-dollar bank account and still assume the Everyman guise.
His audiences, forever besotted by his show's still-funny reruns, will always be an easy laugh for him. Four years after the last episode of "Seinfeld" he doesn't have to patronize his audiences. He earns every guffaw.


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