First things first: Don’t refer to the AMA that Jerry Seinfeld just did as a “chat about nothing.”
“The pitch for the show” — Seinfeld, that is — “was we want[ed] to show how a comedian gets his material,” Seinfeld explained to fans on Reddit this afternoon. The whole “show about nothing” thing, he continued, “was just a joke in an episode many years later.” To this day, Seinfeld and Larry David don’t get why it’s a phrase people keep using to describe their classic sitcom — “because to us it’s the opposite of that.”
Lesson learned! And this, of course, is just one of the many tasty nuggets of information Seinfeld dispensed during his wide-ranging “Ask Me Anything” event. (See the full text here.) What else did we learn from him? See below to find out — unless you’re Newman. Newman is not welcome here.
1. He’s not shy about doling out praise
When Reddit user BAXterBEDford asked why professional comedian Jerry Seinfeld was often Seinfeld‘s straight man, here’s how Seinfeld started his response: “Very good observation and analysis on your part, Baxter. You are truly exhibiting a good comedic eye.” He called another user, P_ro, “DEEP. And super-observant.” And after user maddabattacola called Seinfeld a show about “social faux pas and ridiculous social customs” instead of “nothing,” Seinfeld practically knighted him: “FINALLY I have met someone that understands the show,” he wrote. “Thank you for your rare and perceptive analysis.” Bottom line: Say something perceptive (and complimentary) to Jerry Seinfeld, and he’ll make you feel like the smartest person who ever lived.
2. Michael Richards can break even the most stalwart of men
Said Seinfeld: “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.”
3. This is how he met Larry David
“I actually was eavesdropping on him talking to another comedian, and I wasn’t even in comedy yet. But he was leaning on my car in front of the Improv on 9th Ave and 44th Street, and this would be probably 1975. That was the first time I ever saw him. But we didn’t talk. But him and this other comedian were leaning on the fender of my car, and I knew that they were real comedians and I was still just flirting with it. So I don’t know if that answers the question.” P.S. The two actually had a conversation a few years after that, and they “couldn’t stop talking.” The rest is TV history.
4. He couldn’t make guns funny
When asked if Seinfeld ever had to scrap a story, Seinfeld recalled an episode based around Jerry buying a handgun. After a read-through, they decided not to move forward with the idea: “A lot of other stuff happened, but trying to make that funny ended up being no fun.”
5. He knows the secret to heckling hecklers
Early in his career, Seinfeld used to deal with obnoxious audience members by acting as a sort of ersatz therapist: “I would immediately become very sympathetic to them and try to help them with their problem and try to work out what was upsetting them, and try to be very understanding with their anger.” The audience would roar; the heckler would be “discombobulate[d]”; the set would be saved.
6. If he could grab coffee with any deceased comedian in any car…
… it’d be Charlie Chaplin in a Duesenberg.
7. He and Larry David recently wrote something “big, huge, gigantic”
But Seinfeld didn’t specify what, exactly, it is — just that there’s a bit in it about “intentional mumbling.” Did somebody say Bee Movie 2?!
8. Twitter accounts that imagine a modern-day Seinfeld are “a very painful subject”
“Oh this is a very painful subject. As you can probably imagine, over the 9 years of doing the show, Larry David and I sat through hundreds of ideas that people wanted to do on the show. And most of the ideas are not good. Which I saw Larry say the other day on some show, somebody asked him the same question and he said ‘I know you think it’s funny, but it’s really hard.’ The ideas that Larry and I would respond to, I don’t even know, they just need to be very unique. It’s just a lot harder than it seems to come up with. And particularly for that show, where we tried to do things that were unusual, and you had to go through a lot of ideas to find the ones you like.”
9. Larry David IRL is actually “not as nice” as Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Huh. We’ll just leave that one there.
10. He has some thoughts about Man of Steel
And while he’s “really reluctant to be critical of it in any way,” Seinfeld will say that the movie had one fatal flaw: “I thought the glossing over of the figuring out a secret identity and why he felt he needed one was a huge missed opportunity for that character, and one of the most interesting things about Superman is the whole secret identity. So to me it was too much action / violence and not enough character study.”
11. The enormously wealthy have their own ways of amusing themselves
“I do have a long driveway in my house in Long Island, and sometimes I ride on it on a scooter. And that makes me feel like Richie Rich.”
12. And finally, if he weren’t doing comedy, here’s what he’d want to do:
“Die.” Well, then. Good night, everybody!