Seinfeld: 9 fun facts you never knew about the sitcom
Seinfeld began as a poorly received show titled The Seinfeld Chronicles in 1989, and concluded as a beloved sitcom nine years later that still pervades pop culture to this day. The episodes themselves were—and continue to be—amusing, but what happened behind the scenes has its own intrigue: For example, that now-famous opening music was actually unique to each episode, and one of the only episodes the cast vetoed was about guns. Read about those and more little-known facts about the show below.
1. The inspiration for “The Lip Reader” came from an episode of Howard Stern.
Seinfeld writer Carol Leifer had the idea for the episode (in which George takes a deaf woman to a party so she can lip-read what his girlfriend across the room is saying about him) after hearing an episode of The Howard Stern Show where he talked to deaf comedian Kathy Buckley about her lip-reading skills. “It made me think that, were she a friend of mine, how I would have mined that superhero skill for personal gain!” she wrote in an excerpt of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying: Lessons from a Life in Comedy that appeared on Vanity Fair.
2. An episode about guns never aired.
Larry Charles wrote the episode, a half-hour that focused on Elaine buying a gun—and that was vetoed by both the cast and crew, including director Tom Cherones, who said, “Guns aren’t funny.” But it came close to existing: According to Charles, they cast the episode, built the sets, and even kicked off rehearsa, even though there was “just a lot of discomfort.”
“In retrospect, when I think back on it, it was early in the run of the show and I was still figuring out how to do this,” Charles told Vanity Fair in April, “and I think Larry and Jerry were very supportive, but I wish that I had figured out a way—because this is what Larry David is so brilliant at, both in Seinfeld and in Curb … he can take a premise that would basically not be a comedy or a comedic premise, and he finds a way to do that.”
3. Lawrence Tierney was originally supposed to have an ongoing role on the show.
According to the cast, Tierney—who played Elaine’s dad—took a knife from the set and put it in his jacket. When Jerry Seinfeld confronted him about it, Tierney responded by saying he was trying to make a joke… and then pulled the knife out of his jacket and started imitating the famous Psycho scene. “I remember looking at Tom [Cherones], I remember looking at Julia [Louis-Dreyfus], and just going, this is, we’re in the land of the sick now,” Jason Alexander said. “We’re in really scary territory.”
Louis-Dreyfus put it a bit more bluntly. “I’ll tell you something about Lawrence Tierney,” she said. “He was a total nutjob.”
7. Elaine’s New Yorker cartoon actually made it into The New Yorker.
Elaine’s so puzzled by a New Yorker cartoon in a 1998 episode of Seinfeld that she stages a meeting with the cartoonist himself to get to the bottom of it. Elaine doesn’t gain any insight from the meeting, but does discover the cartoonist likes her ideas—so much so that she decides to attempt her own cartoon involving a pig. Then in 2012, The New Yorker (the real-life one) published a rendition of Elaine’s idea and asked readers to submit captions.
8. Composer Jonathan Wolff tweaked the opening theme music for every single episode.
Each week, Wolff looked at a detailed list of that episode’s opening lines and from there, he’d update the music to better fit that show. “It was a little bit more labor-intensive than most other shows because I had to re-do that opening every time,” Wolff told Vice in May. “But it was worth it … [Seinfeld] was creating new material. As long as he’s creating new material, I’ll do the same thing, and I will create along with him.”
9. Jerry’s last conversation with George in the series mirrors his first conversation with George in the series.
In the show’s first (non-standup) scene, Jerry criticizes the button placement on George’s shirt. In the show’s final scene, Jerry does the same thing—this time though, George comments, “Haven’t we had this conversation before?” Yes, yes, you have.
Hulu begins streaming the entirety of Seinfeld June 24.