Jerry Seinfeld was to perform standup in India this month but his show was cancelled due to what authorities call a lack of ample parking. Yada-yada-yada... Seinfeld didn't go to India. Ironically, if you had shown up to the non-existent performance, you would've still seen "a show about nothing." Evidently, the organisers, Only Much Louder, had to call Seinfeld's team before he took off. Fortunately, Seinfeld's private jet wasn't already airborne or he might've had to make an emergency landing in Latham, MA.
It was to be the ultimate East-meets-West merger of comedy. Sure, the same could be said for Russell Peters, whom I once brought to the stage with, "The person who has introduced the medium of standup to more people than anybody in history." But Peters is still Indian. For a Jewish man to do standup in India was something else entirely. Seinfeld is an American institution and widely regarded as the most accomplished of the living comedians. After my personal favourite, Bill Burr, set the stage in February with a successful jaunt to the Stage 42 Festival, this was to be the comedy equivalent of The Beatles' 1968 voyage to Rishikesh. And it was called off due to parking. Wow. How did they tell people? Paraphrase The Soup Nazi? "No show for you!"
"In 2015, it's possible to get the word out -- just give spots to the highest-price ticket-holders and have everybody else hitch a ride."
This is more mystifying than the answers of life for which John, Paul, George, and Ringo were searching. Many speculated that it was vengeance for the All India Bakchod show. But it later came out that it was an internal political battle within the state of Maharashtra. Whatever the reason, this could potentially scare off international comedians for quite some time. I mean, if Jerry Seinfeld can get the kibosh, then anybody can. And it's all the more ironic that Seinfeld has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 40 years. I'm sure not coming to India is as much a personal disappointment as a professional one.
(Incidentally, India is the only country in the world in which Jews have never been persecuted, probably because next to Indians, Jews look like big spenders. "Who are these ballers?" asked a fictional Mumbaikar in an accent sufficiently thick to make this joke funny.)
But perhaps the solution could've been found in a Beatles song: "Drive My Car." You see, that might've been the problem. The tickets were US$125 and US$208. This ensured that virtually all the attendees -- all 7,000 of them (a.k.a., 0.00000001% of the Southeast corner of Mumbai) -- had automobiles. (In this way, India and America are opposites, where the rich in the States have drivers.) And such pricing at such an event would necessitate showing up in the most expensive of vehicles to keep up with the Joneses (or the Jainses). Now, I come from the land of capitalism and subscribe to "whatever the market will bear," but had the tickets been made available for a lower cost, the middle class would've planned to come. Hence their drivers would've dropped them off, resulting in far less need for so much parking. That's what you get for going for too much. It's karma. Or... Car-ma.
"Or maybe it's car-ma for [a scene] from Seinfeld, with the apropos title, The Betrayal: 'Don't go. India is a dreadful, dreadful place.' "
How about the idea of, hmmm, not waiting till the week of the event to sort out the parking? Told you Indians are late to everything. I still think they could've gone through with the show. In 2015, it's possible to get the word out -- just give spots to the highest-price ticket-holders and have everybody else hitch a ride. In this day and age of social media and 24/7 mobile connectivity, Mumbaikars could've made alternate arrangements on the fly and walked, caught public transportation, or had their mothers drop them off by scooter... they're Mum-bikers, right? (OK, OK, that was horrible.)
Or maybe it's car-ma for this scene from Seinfeld, with the apropos title, The Betrayal: "Don't go. India is a dreadful, dreadful place." Even though he also makes fun of New York City, this was the one scene in nine years of the show that made me truly cringe. I wouldn't say I was exactly offended (since I'm a comic and we're hard to offend), but this never sat well with me. I'll leave you with my other possible theories. And if nothing else, enjoy the walk down Seinfeld memory lane -- it's all we have of Jerry, for now.
• The parking lot experienced Shrinkage.
• Babu Bhatt simply didn't grant Seinfeld's visa this time around. Or couldn't because he's Pakistani?
• They were afraid this scene would break out from the aptly named The Parking Space.
• Religious authorities were afraid that Seinfeld would make The Cow Remark like he made The Pony Remark. Why would anyone leave a pony country to go a non-pony country?
This whole thing to me seems so gay... not that there's anything wrong with that.
Rajiv Satyal is a standup comedian. He resides at the intersection of Indian comedy and Seinfeld quotes. For info on his fourth standup tour of India this week, please visit www.SeeRajiv.com.