Jerry Seinfeld

1. A 'Seinfeld' Primer
When TV Guide recently rated the best television shows of all time, what do you think was number one? I Love Lucy? M*A*S*H? The Honeymooners?

The winner was none other than Seinfeld! How did the self-described "show about nothing" secure this lofty reputation and maintain its high level of popularity, even though there hasn't been a new episode since 1998? The credit lies at the feet of the talented cast: Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards.

They haven't been together on television in six years, until now.
Jerry Seinfeld on show's finale

2. The Moment You Get Off the Stage
In its last of nine seasons in 1998, Seinfeld was one of the most popular shows on television. It was a certified cultural phenomenon—the subject of many water-cooler discussions. Its humor even worked its way into our daily vocabulary with catchphrases such as "yada yada yada," "no soup for you," "sponge-worthy" and "master of your domain." But at the height of its power and reach, they pulled the plug. The final episode was a greeted with tributes and retrospectives, and was seen by 76 million people.

So, why end it then?

Jerry: It's from years and years of being on stage as a comedian. I'll get on stage and I'll do an hour, or an hour and 10, or 50 minutes or something. But there's that moment when you're on stage, when you just feel—and you learn it. It takes years to learn that this is the moment. And you just get off stage then. … Another five minutes can bring [the audience] to a completely different place. Just like a little too much food, you know what I mean? You can have this great meal…

Oprah: Like two bites too many.

Jerry: Two bites. And how was the food? "It was okay. I ate too much." You don't feel as good.
Jerry Seinfeld on the legacy

3. A Sitcom's Legacy
One of the more exceptional elements of the Seinfeld legacy is that the show has remained popular even six years after it officially ended. It has even developed an audience within a generation that was too young to see it the first time around. "That's the amazing thing," Jerry says. "We went to a movie—a children's movie—the other day, and there were young kids there—10 and 11 and 12. And they were coming up to me. They knew who I was. I go, 'How do you know who I am?'"
Will Jerry Seinfeld return to television?

4. A Return?
Ever since Seinfeld ended its run, there has been one question fans have been dying to know: Will Jerry Seinfeld ever make another show?

"You know, I watch Sesame Street a lot, because I have two little kids," Jerry says. "And a lot of people ask me, you know, 'Would I ever consider doing another show?' I sit there and I watch this Elmo guy—he is so likable and so funny and so charming—and I sit there with my daughter and I think, 'Let him bust his little red ass every week.'"
Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica

5. Settling Down
On Seinfeld, Jerry famously remained a bachelor, often breaking up with women over the most nit-picky of reasons. In real life, Jerry also remained a bachelor until meeting and marrying his wife, Jessica.

Oprah: When did you know she was the one?

Jerry: You know what it is? It's not the conversation or the attraction that you feel. It's just like this comfort level when someone is in your house. That's what's important. When someone comes into your house and you still feel comfortable.

Oprah, to Jessica: What is it about him that you just felt, "Okay, he's it?"

Jessica: Oh, he is so funny. And I know everybody knows that, of course. But he really is just so funny and he's so sweet. His character doesn't seem so sweet on TV but he is so sweet… And he's so kind.
Jason Alexander

6. Jason Alexander Played George Costanza
Jason Alexander played George Costanza on Seinfeld. George, Jerry's long-time best friend, was cheap, insecure, often dishonest and lazy. But America just loved him.

The truth is, Jason really isn't like George at all, and he had some trouble understanding the character's motivation. So when was the moment when he came to know George?

"I can't remember the episode but it was early, like eight or nine episodes in," Jason says. "We got a script and I went to [Seinfeld co-creator Larry David], and I said, 'You've got to help me on this one, because, first of all, this would never happen to anybody. And if it did, they'd never react like this.' And Larry said, 'What do you mean? This happened to me and this is exactly what I did.' And I went, 'Oh, okay.' And then he became my guide [to George] after that."
Jason Alexander

7. 'Yada Yada Yada'
Oprah: Do you miss doing the show?

Jason: I miss the gang, you know? We sat around for nine years and just laughed every day. We essentially had the same crew and it was a really kind of a wonderful family. Jerry's right, I mean, we all felt it was the time to put it to bed.

Oprah (to Jerry): I didn't ask you. Do you miss it? Do you miss the camaraderie?

Jerry: Yes. I mean, we were sitting backstage and we were just howling back there. And it was just exactly the way it was. We were just laughing so hard.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus's audition

8. Julia Louis-Dreyfus Played Elaine
Julia Louis-Dreyfus played Elaine on Seinfeld. She was Jerry's ex-girlfriend and the queen of confrontation who always got the last laugh.

When searching for an actress to play the part of Elaine, Jerry says they "auditioned millions of people" for the part, including Rosie O'Donnell. During her audition, Julia read a scene with Jerry, but it was so casual, Julia had to jog Jerry's memory.

Julia: I recognized him, sort of-ish. I didn't know the world of stand-up particularly well. I sort of recognized him, and he came out and he was eating a bowl of cereal. And so then we just sort of hit it off.

Jerry: We read a scene together, right?

Julia: Yeah, we did. That's right.

Jerry: Very casually. You read there and I'll read this. See how it feels.

Julia: We did. It was really casual.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

9. The 'Elaine Dance'
One of the most famous moments on Seinfeld was Elaine's dancing. It was an arrhythmic mess of pointing thumbs and jerky motions, and it could have you laughing until it hurt.

Oprah: I thought you were going to throw out a joint there. Okay, so obviously you haven't lived that down.

Julia: Evidently that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Jerry: She said, "What do you think of this kind of thing?" And I thought, "Oh, I don't know, I guess that's bad." We were trying to come up with a really bad dance.
Michael Richards was Kramer

10. Michael Richards Played Kramer
Michael Richards played Jerry's neighbor, Kramer, on Seinfeld. All he had to do was walk into a room and people would start laughing. Kramer was a wholly unique character: a whirling volcano of physical comedy and crazy stunts that always kept viewers in hysterics.
Michael Richards

11. Working on Kramer
Michael's portrayal of Kramer always seemed so natural that his comedic genius may not be so apparent. But the role actually required quite a bit of preparation in a short period of time.

Michael: There were so many ways to go [with each scene], and so we didn't really have a lot of time to do a TV show. We had three days of rehearsal, so I just spent as much time as I could to get at the material.

Jerry: He'd find all these little things, you know? I remember watching him working on something. I'd go, "What are you doing?" "Oh, I'm working on a little thing here." I would go, "I don't know, I'd just read it." And now when I watch it and I see all that work he put into it, that it all really made a difference.
The pep talk

12. The Pep Talk
The final episode of Seinfeld was not only a huge moment in television history, but also a sentimental backstage moment for a famously unsentimental show.

"Remember you asked how [Jerry] was sweet?" Jason says to Oprah. "I'll give you an example…. Before we went out for the last audience taping, Jerry said, 'I just want to say something,' and we said, 'Uh-oh.' He said, 'For the rest of our lives, when anyone thinks of one of us, they'll think of all four.' And then added, 'I can't think of three people I'd rather have that be true of.'"
FROM: Exclusive: The Cast of Seinfeld Reunites
Published on November 29, 2004


Next Story