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

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.

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Jerry Seinfeld through the years
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Jerry Seinfeld through the years


Pictured: Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld

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'The Seinfeld Chronicles/Pilot' Episode 1

Pictured: Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld

(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)


Pictured: Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld

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SEINFELD -- Season 6

Pictured: (front, l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, (back, l-r) Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer

(Photo by George Lange/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jerry Seinfeld receives a honorary doctorate from his alma mater Queens College in New York June 2, 1994. Seinfeld told his mother, who was in the audience, that he was finally a doctor.

(REUTERS/Mark Cardwell)

SEINFELD -- Season 9

Pictured: (l-r) Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld

(Photo by Andrew Eccles/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld hoists his award as if it were a football March 10, after his show "Seinfeld" was voted Favorite Television Comedy Series at the 22nd Annual Peoples Choice Awards in Universal City.

(Fred Prouser / Reuters)

Jennifer Lopez and Jerry Seinfeld on the 41st Annual Grammy Awards.

(Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)

Jerry Seinfeld & Mayor Rudolph Giuliani photographed backstage of 'Stand Up for New York,' a performance that will benefit the Twin Towers Fund and the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund(NYPFWCBF).

(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld (C) looks on along with comedians Colin Quinn (L) and Will Ferrell (R) attend a press conference for the 'Stand Up for New York' benefit for the Twin Towers Fund September 25, 2001 in New York City.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jerry Seinfeld and Mike Piazza during Jerry Seinfeld Throws The First Pitch at The Mets/Yankees Subway Series Game to Promote The Release of the 'Seinfeld' Season 4 DVD at Shea Stadium in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage)

Jerry Seinfeld during Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Simon Perform One Night Only A Concert For Autism Speaks - Press Conference at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States.

(Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

Talk show host Jay Leno (L) and actor Jerry Seinfeld pose at the premiere of DreamWorks Animation's 'Bee Movie' at the Mann Village Theatre on October 28, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jerry Seinfeld arrives at the Bee Movie New York City Premiere at Loewa Lincoln Square 13 on October 25, 2007 in New York City.

(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Jerry Seinfeld performs at the Susan And Tony Bennett's Exploring The Arts Gala Hosted By Whoopi Goldberg at Cipriani Wall Street on September 23, 2008 in New York City.

(Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)

Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick backstage for the David Lynch Foundation 'Change Begins Within' concert at Radio City Music Hall on April 4, 2009 in New York City.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Jerry Seinfeld, explains some frustrating points in life to Late Show host David Letterman during Tuesday 11/23/10 taping in New York.

(Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
Kathy Griffin and Jerry Seinfeld pose at the Opening Night After Party for 'Colin Quinn Long Story Short' on Broadway at Forty Four at the Royalton on November 9, 2010 in New York City.
(Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)


Pictured: Jerry Seinfeld appears on NBC News' 'Today' show

(Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)


'Jim Breuer, Nick Cannon, Caroline Rhea' Episode 207 

Pictured: Jerry Seinfeld

(Photo by Patrick Harbron/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jerry Seinfeld arrive's at the 'Grammy Awards' held in Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditorium.

(Dan Callister via Getty Images)

Actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld checks out the new Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, listed at $228, 000, during the 2nd Annual Tailgate Party and silent auction fundraiser in celebration of the 2001 New York International Auto Show April 11, 2001 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

(Photo by Arnaldo Magnani/Liaison)

Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Clinton, and Jessica Seinfeld photographed backstage of 'Stand Up for New York,' a performance that will benefit the Twin Towers Fund and the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund(NYPFWCBF).

(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld (R) and actor Dick Cavatt attend the Hamptons Concours d'Elegence auto show June 8, 2003 in Bridgehampton, New York. The fourth annual Concours d'Elegance presented by Road and Track magazine, features coachbuilt classic cars and sports cars. The event features a luncheon and fashion show to benefit South Fork Breast Health Coalition.

(Photo By Steven Henry/Getty Images)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld attends a game between the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on December 14, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld visits 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center on September 25, 2012 in New York City.

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 12: Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Jerry Seinfeld attend the Toronto East General Hospital's First Annual Comedy Gala, 'Laughter Is The Best Medicine' at Allstream Centre on April 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock attend the 'Top Five' New York Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 3, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Mike Pont/FilmMagic)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld arrives for the 2014 Women's Leadership Award honoring Stella McCartney at Alice Tully Hall in New York November 13, 2014.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Comedians Jimmy Fallon and Jerry Seinfeld laugh together as they arrive on the red carpet for the taping of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor ceremony and performance, honoring comedian Jay Leno, at the Kennedy Center in Washington October 19, 2014.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Jerry Seinfeld attends the TimesTalks at The New School on December 1, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

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)

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)

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)


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Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, First Lady Michelle Obama, host Jimmy Fallon, and comedian Dave Chappelle play Catchphrase on January 11, 2017

(Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)


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