Six Things I Learned From Jerry Seinfeld’s Reddit AMA

The night I ended my year long run at the greatest sitcom of all time, I scoured the internet like a jaded old man for anything that could make me feel like I was watching a new episode. This led me, of course, to the Seinfeld subreddit where I ran into an informative “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Jerry Seinfeld did back in January. Some questions had to do with Jerry’s personal life or Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but the bulk of them were about Seinfeld. In keeping with the internet’s affinity for numbered lists, I’d like to offer six things I learned from Jerry’s AMA.

1. Jerry as comedian but straight man to his friends absurdity is genius

Jerry as the straight man

Jerry may not always function as a typical straight man, but his antics are often tempered in comparison to his three closest friends. A man who makes people laugh for a living but takes a back seat to his friend’s comedy is not only ironic, it’s brilliant. This seems like an obvious obvious thing looking back, yet, as Jerry said, “Very few people have every remarked on this,” and I was not able to articulate it until I read this. My friend often describes Jerry as “the glue that holds the show together.” This is true in many respects but especially from the standpoint of comedy.

2. Seinfeld was not a “show about nothing.” 

“…The show about nothing was just a joke in an episode many years later, and Larry and I to this day are surprised that it caught on as a way that people describe the show because to us it’s the opposite of that.”

show about nothingWhenever I told someone I was watching Seinfeld straight through, it was not uncommon for them to mention it being a “show about nothing.” I didn’t understand why until I reached season four when Jerry and George decide to pitch “Jerry,” their “show about nothing” to NBC. At first I thought they were responding to criticism about the show. When I learned that wasn’t true, I struggled to apply that phrase to Seinfeld as it seemed so many people had. At the bare minimum, we have to admit that something happens in each episode, and while there may not always be much of a plot, there is certainly substance. Most of this substance has to do with hilarity of relationships and social customs. Although they are often stretched into a caricature, we can all resonate with, for example, interacting with a low talker or close talker. I propose that from now on we make it a goal to refer to Seinfeld as “a show about something.”

(Just to be clear, this is what Seinfeld would look like if it was about nothing:)

3. Kramer’s “look away, I’m hideous” scene was funniest to Jerry in the moment

“…if you think Kramer is funny on TV, imagine his real face six inches from your nose, how funny that is. You can’t imagine. It’s impossible not to laugh. So I would.”

Jerry laughingJerry often attempts to bottle up his laughter, but the resulting grins aren’t fooling anybody. It seems he had a particularly difficult time with Kramer’s “look away, I’m hideous” scene. Watch the outtakes, and then the full scene, where Jerry half snickers the whole time and turns away from the camera to conceal his laughter at the end:

4. Jerry was happy with the finale

finale

I was glad to read that Jerry was happy with the finale, and I more or less agree with him. The only other way I could think to end it would be for Jerry to close the door to his apartment after all the characters walked out. I had no issue with the ending as they did and thought it was great that so many of the supporting characters got to come back for the finale. I also enjoyed Jerry and George repeating the opening dialog from the first episode.

5. Newman was Jerry’s favorite supporting character 

Newman arch enemy

It doesn’t bother me that the show never explains why Jerry and Newman are at odds or his often villainous demeanor for that matter. I never thought of Newman as Jerry’s arch enemy, but I love that he celebrates that.

6. Superman is not in every episode.

superman

We can officially catalog this as urban legend and all stop talking about it.

 

Seinfeld Monday: “The Soup Nazi”

SOUP NAZI

I am finally back to blogging about Seinfeld. When we left off, I was in the middle season 7, and now, we have come to one of the most iconic Seinfeld episodes of all: “The Soup Nazi” (TSN) I actually have memories of this episode from when I was a kid, but I can’t remember from when. In any event, I don’t think I saw the whole episode then or even most of it, but I’ve carried a picture of the soup stand in my head since then. For a long time, when I thought about Seinfeld, that mental picture was all that came into my mind. All that to say, I was happy to finally get to experience this episode in its entirety. Here is my breakdown of TSN.

The Periphery

There are a few issues unrelated to the plot of TSN that are, nonetheless, entertaining. Jerry is dating a woman named Sheila who he affectionately refers to as “Schmoopie.” However, she also calls him “Schmoopie,” resulting in an ongoing debate over which one of them is really “Schmoopie”-and irritating everyone within earshot.

A frustrated George retaliates by lobbing his own terms of endearment at Susan in front of the Schmoopies, causing Jerry spews forth more ridiculous pet names at Sheila. Not to be outdone, George grabs Susan and starts making out with her, and Jerry and Sheila follow suit. It is a war of affection.

This is war.

George’s brief victory comes back to bite him later in the episode when Jerry and Sheila break up, and Susan tells him she is thrilled with the step forward his new public display of affection represents for their relationship.

The Premise

"You will be stunned! You can't get this soup standing up; your knees buckle!"

“You will be stunned! You can’t eat this soup standing up; your knees buckle!”

Peripheral details aside, the plot of “The Soup Nazi” revolves around a chef who makes the best soup in New York, the kind of soup you would choose over your girlfriend.

This chef earned his nickname because he operates his soup stand like a Nazi regime. There is a very strict ordering process, as Newman correctly demonstrates. If a costumer fails to follow the procedures, he is forced to leave, traumatized and soupless, as illustrated by George and one Spanish patron.

"This guy makes the best soup in the city, Jerry; the best!"

            “This guy makes the best soup in the city, Jerry; the best!”

The Armoire

While the rest of the gang is feasting on soup, Elaine is distracted by an armoire she finds at a street sale.

armoire

Elaine skips the best soup in town for an antique armoire. Only $200 with the “nice face” discount.

Because she isn’t able to load it into her apartment on Sunday (which sounds insane for New York), she gets Kramer to watch it for her until Monday. He requests a hot bowl of Mulligatawny for his services, and Elaine goes to see TSN without knowing the proper ordering procedures. The results are disastrous. In the meantime, two “street toughs” intimidate Kramer and steal the armoire.

Kramer, the one who introduced the rest of the gang to the soup stand, is the only person who seems understand TSN and build a friendship with him.

"He's not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. Most geniuses are."

“He’s not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. Most geniuses are.”

One day he tells TSN about the fate of his friend’s armoire, and-not knowing the identity of Kramer’s friend-he offers up an armoire he has laying around in his basement. Kramer delivers it to an excited Elaine.

the k man

                             “Did the K-man do it, or did the K-man do it?”

She goes to thank TSN, but he is less than thrilled upon discovering she is the recipient of his armoire,  

The episode-and with it, the soup stand-is brought to a close when Jerry discovers TSN’s recipes in a drawer of Elaine’s new armoire. She makes them public, allowing everyone to make delicious soup in their homes and breaking the regime’s stranglehold on the neighborhood.

 

"You're through, Soup Nazi. No more soup for you. NEXT!"

                 “You’re through, Soup Nazi. No more soup for you. NEXT!”

 

Where does “The Soup Nazi” rank in your all-time Seinfeld episodes? 

Is it one of the best or just one of the most iconic? 

Seinfeld Monday: “The Race”

S6-E10 the race

Jerry lines up to rerace Duncan, a former high school classmate, defending his victory 20 years earlier.

I was too busy to write a Seinfeld Sunday post yesterday , but the good news is SF is equally funny on Mondays. The best episode of SF I saw last week was: “The Race” [S6/E10].

During a conversation with George, Elaine discovers her boyfriend, Ned, is a Communist.

George: What are you doing with The Daily Worker?

Elaine: Ned must have left it here.

George: Your boyfriend reads The Daily Worker? What is he, a Communist?

Elaine: He reads everything, you know? Ned’s very well read.

George: Maybe he’s just very well……red.

She becomes fascinated by the fact that she is dating a Communist and references it throughout the episode.

There is also some hilarious interaction between her and a worker at Hop Sing’s, a local Chinese restaurant, when she disputes the contents of her order. He becomes upset and puts her, and later Ned, on the “Do Not Deliver List.”

S6-E10 Host blacklists Elaine

“WE NEED A NAME! GIVE US A NAME!”

George is excited when he discovers a personal ad in Ned’s copy of The Daily Worker by a woman named Natalie: “Exciting, uninhibited woman seeks forward-thinking comrade. Appearance not important.” George is very excited about the last part. When Natalie calls him at work, he struggles to convince her that he is, in fact, a Communist:

“Hello? Yes, Natalie. Uh, well, yes, this is a business office, but I’m not a businessman per say. I’m here working for the people. Yes, I’m, uh, causing dissent, stirring the pot, getting people to question the whole rotten system.”

George’s secretary overhears him and reports to Mr. Steinbrenner that he is a Communist. George then must go to his office and convince him that he is not a Communist. However, Mr. Steinbrenner actually wants to leverage George’s Communist sympathies to get baseball players in Cuba to come play for the Yankees. At the end of the episode, George visits Fidel Castro who, it turns out, has a similar personality to Mr. Steinbrenner. There is also a deleted scene where Kramer uses connections with his Cuban golfing buddies to help George get his visa. It’s worth a watch just to see Kramer come down a chimney in his Santa suit.

Kramer‘s friend Mickey gets him a job as Santa at Coleman’s Department Store.

S6-E10 Kramer is Santa

Kramer shows off his new Santa suit to the gang.

But after working long hours with no break, Kramer embraces Ned’s communist ideology. He begins spouting propaganda to the kids, and he is fired:

Kid: I want a racing car set!

Kramer: …listen, you don’t want that. Those are assembled in Taiwan by kids like you, and these Coleman pigs, they sell it for triple the cost.

Kid: But I want a racing car set!

Kramer: No don’t you see, kid, you’re being bamboozled. These capitalist fat cats are inflating the profit margin and reducing your total number of toys.

Kid: [to everyone] Hey, this guys a Commie!

Meanwhile, Jerry is dating a girl named Lois. He continues to say her name because it makes him feel like Superman (there are Superman references throughout the episode). Jerry discovers that her boss is Duncan Meyer, a former high school classmate of Jerry and George. Jerry tells George and Elaine about the bad blood between Jerry and Duncan over a disputed race in the 9th grade. Jerry won the big race after a 10 yard head start that no one noticed. After the race, a myth began to grow about his speed (…faster than a speeding bullet…), but he refused a rerace, saying (and perhaps quoting Calvin Coolidge), “I choose not to run!” He continued to deny the head start to Duncan for 20 years, thinking he got away with it, but now he is faced with defending his victory again.

Duncan demands to meet with Lois and Jerry to confront him about the race, and George devises a plan where he will show up, pretending not to know Jerry, and defend his side of the story. George nails it, and there is some hilarious dialogue between the two of them.

S6-E10 George 'meets' Jerry

George pretends to see Jerry for the first time in 20 years.

But Duncan is not convinced, and he threatens to fire Lois if Jerry will not rerace. Jerry finally agrees, and in a hilarious series of events, Jerry wins again after another false start.

S6-E10 Jerry wins the race

Jerry crosses the finish line while Duncan screams in the background.

There are a lot of funny moments in “The Race.” Which ones stick out to you?