Q&A: Jerry Seinfeld on Teaming Up with Wale

'There's no difference between rapping and standup,' says comedian

jerry seinfeld
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Jerry Seinfeld performs during the 'Comedy For A Cause' Benefit at Gotham Comedy Club in New York.
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Wale has never hidden his fanboy enthusiasm for Seinfeld. The Maybach Music Group rapper's breakout 2008 mixtape, The Mixtape About Nothing, was constructed around the seminal sitcom and featured audio snippets from the show, not to mention a cameo from actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Still, few could have predicted the show's star, Jerry Seinfeld, would ever team up with the Washington D.C. emcee.

Last month, that changed: a video surfaced online in which Seinfeld, seated in a New York recording studio, gave a rough outline of how he came to collaborate with Wale on the rapper's forthcoming record, The Album About Nothing. "Hip-hop's words, right? And I do words," the comedian said at the time.  

Rolling Stone needed more information on this unlikely partnership, and Seinfeld complied. He called in recently to break down his work with Wale, discuss his own musical preferences and explain why he believes rap and comedy aren't all that dissimilar.

Thanks for the chat, Jerry. So tell us, how did this completely unexpected collaboration between Wale and yourself come to pass?
I think someone sent [The Mixtape About Nothing] to me and I got a kick out of it. And Wale came to a show – I think it was in Philly – and we hung out a little bit. And he's a very nice kind of a guy.

Jerry Seinfeld's Second Act

What was your initial impression of working on a hip-hop album?
It's always fun when you cross over lines, you know, in the show business world. It's always fun to go into somebody else's thing and vice versa. So that in itself is just reason enough to do it. My wife is really into Wale so she's playing the stuff and I'm getting into it so it was all great.

Was there any prodding on Wale's part or were you game for this project from the get-go?
Yeah. I think he asked a few times until I finally decided that it would be a fun thing to do.

So you go into a New York City recording studio to make this happen. What happens next?
Well, his guys were there. And we just went in the studio and just started talking. And they just wanted me to say things, whatever I thought about various things. They would ask me things and I would just tell them what I thought. And then they have to do their thing with it, which takes a while as I understand. But just for me to hang out with guys like that was the coolest, you know? Because I don't hang out with 19-year-old music guys. So it was great.

In the teaser video released last month, you said the lines were blurry between hip-hop and standup comedy.
Oh, definitely. There's no difference between rapping and standup. You're trying to catch people's attention with a catchy thought or something that's deeper than it seems. And it just makes your mind jump. So it's the same business, really. It's like hacky-sack with words.

You mentioned your wife is a Wale fan. Is Jerry Seinfeld a hip-hop fan?
Umm, I'm a music fan and my kids play whatever they want; my wife plays whatever she wants. I play whatever I want. And I don't really understand people that only like certain types of music. I've never been like that. When I was a kid, I got into my parent's music of, you know, the Forties and Fifties, which they thought was weird 'cause they couldn't get into my music. But I don't understand how people have trouble with other genres, frankly. I'm very big on [the Duke Ellington quote], "There's only two kinds of music: good and bad."

Based on this experience, would you be open to future musical collaborations?
Well, I haven't seen how this came out yet.

Oh, wow. So you'll be just as surprised as the rest of us.
Yeah. So we'll see how it feels.

Aside from breaking bread with rappers, what else do you have in the fold?
I'm starting a new season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on the Internet and that's my toy right now.