Jerry Seinfeld reveals the joke he wrote for Obama, plans to bring 'Comedians in Cars' to TV

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Jerry Seinfeld Goes Head-to-Head Against Jimmy for an Emmy

Jerry Seinfeld was just as surprised as everybody else to hear that his Crackle series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, was nominated for an Emmy alongside Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon andJimmy Kimmel Live!

"I feel like Lewis and Clark here paddling down the river to find the new world, and I can't believe I've found it," he says of the Sony-produced show in which he interviews comedy heavyweights including Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin and the late Garry Shandling over a car ride and coffee. The show's nomination in the variety talk category — Comedians has been nominated twice before, but both times in shortform categories — comes eight seasons into its run and has snagged a spot that might otherwise have gone to Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert or The Daily Show's Trevor Noah. Adds Seinfeld, "To be still in a world of trying to innovate at this stage of my career is thrilling."

With that astonishment evident in his voice, the 62-year-old comic opened up about his episode with President Obama, potential plans to bring the web show to TV and why he's no longer so sad about the late-night landscape.

You're in the eighth season of Comedians. How has your process evolved over time?

I used to worry: Is this really a show? Is anyone going to like this? Will anyone even watch this? So the process hasn't changed, I'm just more comfortable and confident now that I know this is something that people like. I didn't know that about Seinfeld in the early 1990s, either. I thought, "I like this show. I wonder if anyone else will." And it took years before people reacted to that.

Read more: Emmys: Netflix Leads Streaming Nominations as Crackle Breaks Through With Jerry Seinfeld Coup

You recently had President Obama on the show. How did it come together?

My producer called someone on the White House staff, and they said they'd been wanting to get in touch with us because they were interested in him doing the show. I really didn't believe it was going to happen. My favorite moment was when I said to him, "When I call you, you answer the phone, 'White House,' I'll say, 'I'd like to speak with the president, please,' and then you say, 'Speaking.' " He thought that was a great joke, so we started with that.

What's on the cutting-room floor of that episode that we didn't see?

We're actually talking with some other platforms now about releasing the show in other forms with different material. That's one of the fun things about this world I've fallen into: I can remake these shows into other things for other places. So some of the stuff on the cutting-room floor from all of the episodes could come out in the future.

What does that mean exactly?

We're talking to television and cable and streaming [outlets], and so there are a variety of forms that this show might take. Nothing is set yet. It's just conversations now, but there's been a lot of interest.

As you drove away from the White House, what was the thing that made you go, "Damn, I wish I had asked him that"?

He was telling me about how the thermostat worked and the fact that you have to call somebody [to operate it]. I really wished I had asked him more about that call and how annoying it is to have to call someone to change the thermostat if you're cold or hot. Yes, that's the kind of stuff I'm interested in. (Laughs.)

Read more: 7 Most Revealing Moments From Jerry Seinfeld's 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'

You've said you decided Obama made sense for the show because he's a "comedian president." We now have a presidential candidate in Donald Trump who some would argue is unintentionally funny. Would you consider doing an episode with him?

I think it's funny that he likes to end sentences with, "Believe me," which is really asking a lot when you say something crazy. But I only would have a guest on if they can make me feel funny, too, and I'm not sure if he makes me feel funny or just ... weird.

Looking at this season of Comedians, what was the highlight?

Garry Shandling hugging me and saying "I love you" was probably the best moment of my year. I didn't know that would be the last time I'd ever see him. And then being in the White House and having the president trust me to come in with cameras and make a silly show in the Oval Office and eat the fruit off the coffee table and then ask if it was washed.

Who's left on your guest wish list?

I think I'm going to start bringing some people back. Charles Nelson Reilly would come on The Tonight Show all the time, and I was always happy to see him. I'd like my show to be like that. I'd love to see Alec Baldwin again. Larry David, Bob Einstein, Sarah Silverman.

Three years ago, you told me that the late-night shows were leaving you with "a sad feeling." Is that still the case?

I'm feeling less sad now. Sometimes actors and actresses make me sad when they come out and tell you how great their show is and what a great time they had working with so-and-so. I just can't hear that anymore. First of all, you're working, so we don't care if you like them or if you're having a good time. And all we care about is the show anyway, so there must be a better question. But the political season has made late-night TV much more uplifting because you get to hear things reflected off of these people. I want to hear Bill Maher and John Oliver react — that has more substance than the general promotional tour that everybody else is on. So it's a good time for late-night comedians. I watch all of them, but I'm a really big fan of John Oliver.

You've said you don't watch a lot of TV. What's made you stop and pay attention?

We started watching [ESPN's]O.J.: Made in America last night, and that's just a hell of a piece of work.

Your pal Larry David is finally getting back to Curb Your Enthusiasm. Would you be up for making another cameo?

Anything with Larry, I'm in. I talked to him last week, and he says it's going great. Can you think of another popular show that went away and then came back five years later with the same cast?

If you wanted to pick up with Seinfeld tomorrow, you'd have a slew of options, too. But I'm guessing that won't happen?

No. But we did have an offer — I won't say who from — to do a new, live episode of Seinfeld on TV.

Did any piece of you consider it?

No! (Laughs.)

What happens when you land on a rerun of Seinfeld? Do you stop and watch for a few minutes?

I don't. I really should. I don't know why it makes me so uncomfortable. Whenever I see a clip of it, I think, "This is a very funny show."

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

See more from Jerry Seinfeld in the gallery below!

Jerry Seinfeld through the years
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Jerry Seinfeld through the years
Jerry Seinfeld attends "An Evening Honoring Stella McCartney" presented by American Express, benefiting the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund, at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Jerry Seinfeld and Jessica Seinfeld attend "An Evening Honoring Stella McCartney" presented by American Express, benefiting the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund, at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Jerry Seinfeld pauses as he is interviewed on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and wife Jessica Seinfeld attend the Baby Buggy Bedtime Bash at Wollman Rink in Central Park on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performs at the Stand Up for Heroes event at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in New York. (John Minchillo/Invision/AP)
Jerry Seinfeld attends a special screening of "Enough Said" on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, right, and his wife Jessica Seinfeld, attend the "Kiss the Water" premiere during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on Monday, April 22, 2013, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Jay Leno, left, and Jerry Seinfeld arrive at the David Lynch Foundation: A Night of Comedy honoring George Shapiro at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Saturday June 30, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for David Lynch Foundation/AP Images)
US comedian, actor and writer, Jerry Seinfeld, gestures, as he presents his newly created comedy-reality format "The marriage ref." during the 25th MIPCOM (International Film and Programme Market for TV, Video,Cable and Satellite) in Cannes, southeastern France, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
U.S. actor Jerry Seinfeld is seen prior to the presentation of his latest movie 'Bee Movie' in Berlin Friday, Dec. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Jerry Seinfeld attends the TimesTalks at The New School on December 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Jerry Seinfeld attends 10th Annual Stand Up For Heroes - Show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: (L-R) Jon Stewart, Bob Woodruff, Jerry Seinfeld attend as The New York Comedy Festival and The Bob Woodruff Foundation present the 10th Annual Stand Up for Heroes event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruff Foundation)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his wife Jessica Seinfeld arrive at the White House for a state dinner October 18, 2016 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting a state dinner for Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 04: Jessica Seinfeld and Jerry Seinfeld attend HBO Presents the New York Red Carpet Premiere of 'Divorce' at SVA Theater on October 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jerry Seinfeld arrives at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08: Jerry Seinfeld (L) and Jessica Seinfeld Founder, GOOD+Foundation Host GOOD+Foundation's 2016 Bash Sponsored by Beautycounter, Hearst and Johnson & Johnson at Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink Central Park on June 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02: Jerry Seinfeld (L) and Jessica Seinfeld attend the CHANEL Fine Jewelry Dinner supporting treasures from the New York Public Library Collection at the New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on June 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 20: Host Jerry Seinfeld attends the 2nd annual Los Angeles Fatherhood Lunch to benefit GOOD+FOUNDATION at The Palm Restaurant on April 20, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for GOOD+ Foundation)

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