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Jerry Seinfeld

Catch This Rising Star! 

Jerry Seinfeld's HBO special "On Location: Jerry Seinfeld — Stand-Up Confidential" may lead to bigger and better things.

September 1987 - Don't misunderstand. Jerry Seinfeld loves being on "Late Night With David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. However, as he patiently explains about talk show hosts, "The one thing I'll never understand is why they never have any idea of how much time they have left in the segment. They're always looking off-camera: 'Do we have time for this?'"

Seinfeld is a young, soft-sell stand-up comedian who relies on off-stride insights into the mundane, conjuring up images of bizarre personification (an errant sock trying to make its escape from the clothes dryer) and constantly probing the everyday stuff of life that slips by most of us, from toilet water ("There's a dynamite name for a product") to companies that dream up different kinds of lunch meat ("There is no olive-loaf animal as far as I know").

Happily, the Long Island native — who started his comedy career in the late 70s at open-mike auditions in small Manhattan nightclubs and at one point had a regular role on the ABC series "Benson" — is not of the trendy twist-and-shout school of raw comedy. Which makes his first solo TV special, "On Location: Jerry Seinfeld — Stand-Up Confidential" (10 p.m. today on HBO) all the more enjoyable.

When he is not absorbed with his "comedy X-ray specs" that are said to penetrate the mystery of humor — a tiresome gimmick that should have been quickly given the hook — Seinfeld is making fresh observations about such matters as high-priced movie-theater concessions. ("There's the jewelry case for candy. You go up to the guy: 'I'd like to see something in a Milk Dud if I could.' And who is buying that horse-bucket-size of popcorn? I don't need that much roofing insulation.")

He spends considerable time on boyhood memories. Recollections of his mother, who still carries swatches of wallpaper in her purse. And his dad, who, like all fathers, kept tight control over the living-room thermostat," harshly warning any child who dared try to fool with the dial ("You know, I set it there for a reason"). And the joy of finding a cardboard packing box for new refrigerators ("When you're 5 years old, that's the closest you're gonna come to your own apartment.")

Seinfeld, who looks something like a svelte Brent Musberger, marvels about the Swiss army, lasting 500 years without a war and fending off potential foes with their little knives ("Back off, I have the toenail clipper right here").

He wonders about the reason for soap-on-a-rope ("That comes in handy; a lot of times in the shower I want to hang myself').

And he proffers the intriguing conclusions that dogs don't need to shake hands because they can't make business deals and that they are unable to buy hamburgers at fast-food drive-ins because "they have no money— they're broke their entire lives. And you know why they have no money? They have no pockets. They see change on the street, there's nothing they can do about it."

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