"What's another thing that's annoying me?" Jerry Seinfeld asks a packed Spark Arena last night in Auckland. "Apart from everything."

That right there is a pretty good summation of the show. It's about 90 minutes of finely crafted finickity grousing directed mainly at all the bits of life that happen while you're doing more important things.

Seinfeld starts the show, appropriately enough, at the beginning. People will treasure the memory of being there but will have already forgotten what getting there entailed.

This is Seinfeld's territory and where he begins, offering a painfully funny and accurate breakdown and analysis of the monumental effort and sheer force of will it took to get to the show.


"How many times did you hear the word 'tickets' today?" he asks.

He then breaks down the process, from the buying of the tickets, to the getting ready, the co-ordination with friends, finding a park, dealing with the crowds, waiting in lines... All leading up to saying 'well, I gotta go' at the end of the night.

The 'gotta go' bit will be familiar to Seinfans. Famously, Seinfeld hones and tweaks and pricks and prods his material until it is just right. Now, after being in circulation for a couple of years 'gotta go' is barely recognisable. The gist remains the same, no one wants to be anywhere, but the journey is all different. All gold.

This happens with another couple of bits during the show, with an initial familiar line moving immediately into unfamiliar territory while still remaining true to theme.

That said, Seinfeld isn't a stickler. He drops some local specific jokes in here and there. Observing, and later returning to, black as our satroial colour of choice ("I thought we wore a lot of black in New York but you guys really ran with it") and a funny bit about thinking it was suicide jumpers regularly plummeting past his hotel window before learning it was thrill seekers doing the Sky Tower bungee.

He takes a subtle dig at his hug-free encounter with pop singer Kesha and courts controversy by resurfacing the "gay French King" line that upset a few people a little while back.

But, as expected, Seinfeld keeps it clean. Even in an extended bit about the origin and meaning of "blowing smoke up someone's ass" that ends in a conversation made up entirely of ass related sayings.

It's classic, brilliant, Seinfeld wordplay and pleasingly it's not the only example. There's a witheringly fantastic routine taking down people that use the expression "it is what it is", again culminating in a side-splitting imaginary conversation entirely in meaningless expressions.

Seinfeld is hugely animated on stage. A lot more so than you'd reckon. He's up there waving his arms, goose-stepping around the stage, routinely acting bits out, and flailing his arms around like he's on an airstrip landing a jumbo jet.

And of course there's the voice that rockets from short clipped anger to wildly exaggerated sarcasm in a blink. From soft and seething to a righteous high pitched sqwark. His delivery throughout the evening pretty much encompassed any and every classic Seinfeld scene you care to remember.

Around the midway point he shifted gears away from the trivial to take us inside "Jerry's little world" where he waxed philosophically on life, love and marriage.

"Marriage is chess," he explained. "Only the board is running water and the pieces are made of smoke."

It was keenly observed, and very, very funny. Seinfeld ruminated on the big stuff, being happy, kids, arguing and generally just finding a way to survive life with another person, while punctuating them with trivial bits like staying hydrated ("How many electrolytes am I using going from the kitchen to the couch?") and living with a hoarder ("In retrospect I shouldn't have thrown out the wedding album and I'm sorry. I thought she was done with it.").

His set is effortless and hugely engaging. In large part because it's so relatable. The shared human experience is in those quickly forgotten moments of minutiae. By taking a deep dive into nothing Seinfeld came up with something that nearly everyone can identify with.

His words may suggest otherwise but it's clear that he's having fun up there. Far from being curbed, his enthusiasm is obvious - even when shrugging that he's only here because "I had nothing to do tonight either".

Let's hope he finds himself at a loose end again soon.