Why performers like Jerry Seinfeld are choosing residency

Residency an attractive option for older performers

Jerry Seinfeld announced last week that he will officially begin his residency at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre in 2016, where once a month he will perform a series of shows titled “Jerry Seinfeld: The Homeland.”

The actor-comedian isn’t the first to do this. Billy Joel has residency at Madison Square Garden, where he performs once a month until his shows stop selling out – which has yet to happen.

But why choose residency in one venue over touring across the country or even around the world?

The idea of performing in the same place seems dull to an outsider, but for performers, the consistency is nice. Touring can be difficult and strenuous, especially for older performers. It also makes their show more accessible to those who want to see them.

This trend extends across the country – other performers, such as Britney Spears, have residency at venues in Las Vegas.

I grew up with Seinfeld – watching his self-titled show – Cosmo Kramer is one of my favorite characters ever – reading his book and seeing his stand-up. My parents love him – why wouldn’t they? A Jewish New-Yorker couldn’t be more relatable for them, and in turn, for me.

I like the idea of residency because it allows older performers who aren’t consistently producing new material to continue to have shows. When someone’s music or comedy dies down, they often fall out of the limelight. They’re often dwindled down to pictures in magazines or even worse – throwback music. Residency allows for these performers to showcase material that people love.

At the same time, the shows become routine, which can be boring for an artist. Artists who like to put out new material can get sick of the doing the same thing over and over, especially if it’s like Spears, who performs almost every night. Residency is more for performers that are past the peak of their careers.

Comedians, like Seinfeld, also gain some creative freedom. Though he will be performing essentially the same show, he can experiment with his material more because he’s comfortable in the space. Singers have freedom to choose which songs they perform, but if the entire show is crafted around lights, dancing and other elements, this switch can be difficult. Instead, they can choose to talk about more topical things with the audience during their breaks from singing.

Seinfeld’s decision to have residency at the Beacon comes at an appropriate time in his career. His touring days are essentially over – though he’ll be at Shea’s Performing Arts Center on Jan. 22 – and his television and film work has waned significantly. His comedy is particularly New York centered and is still just as funny. It’s a logical step for him to go somewhere he’s comfortable and continue to do what he loves.

I haven’t seen Seinfeld live and now I finally have an opportunity to. It’s not just that he’s close to home for me, but the fact he’ll be in the same place for a while makes him more accessible.

I think all performers should try residency, even if just for a year. It’s a different method of performing – it’s the same show over and over, but it’s the best of what that performer has. It’s your best songs or your best skits put altogether into one place – a place that feels like home.

Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at tori.roseman@ubspectrum.com.