Seinfeld on HBO award: "Awards are stupid"

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Seinfeld experienced much success with his eponymous sitcom before returning to stand-up. (Photo: Alan Light)

Stand-up comedian and sitcom star Jerry Seinfeld was "honored" Sunday in an HBO TV special entitled "Jerry Seinfeld: The Comedian Award," hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper and featuring fellow comedians Robert Klein, Chris Rock, and Garry Shandling as panel members.

A several minute recording of Seinfeld's stand-up started off the event, but the focus was on the panel discussion. Topics included Jerry's decision to re-enter the world of stand-up comedy post-Seinfeld, his and Shandling's first gigs on The Tonight Show, and the panelists' typical methods for creating and presenting material. Klein also shared colorful anecdotes regarding his late mentor, Rodney Dangerfield.

Though the Las Vegas ceremony was taped in 2005, for reasons not known its inaugural airing was not until now, several years later. Although HBO executives claim it was not originally intended for broadcast, the panelists referred to the event on-camera as a "TV show".

Perhaps some of Seinfeld's derisive on-camera commentary is to blame for the delay. "Your whole career as a comedian is about making fun of pretentious, high-minded, self-congratulatory, B.S. events like this one," he explained in his cutting acceptance speech as Cooper laughed uncomfortably with the crowd. "I really don't want to be up here."

This, after long-time colleague Robert Klein praised Seinfeld's lack of reliance on "mean-spirited" or "vulgar" humor. Klein sought to draw contrast between Jerry and Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, whose Curb Your Enthusiasm generates laughs from the sociopathic behavior of David's character.

Explaining that he and the other panelists were only in attendance because they owed HBO for getting them their starts, Seinfeld seemed to prove Klein wrong. "Awards are stupid," he said repeatedly. "It's a jerk-off."

The show's debut was April 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and it is also available on HBO's On Demand service.