Like a hundred million other people, I watch Seinfeld every Thursday evening. I've also watched so many reruns at 11 PM that I've seen some episodes three or four times. I find the writing and acting for Seinfeld absolutely brilliant. But my purpose here is not to go on and on about how wonderful I think this show is. What I want to talk about is a discovery I made about Jerry Seinfeld in the fall of 1997. I had been watching the show for about a year (experiencing popular cultural phenomena when the phenomena are almost over seems to be a pattern for me). Suddenly it occured to me that Jerry Seinfeld had done an interview with Playboy magazine some time way back when I didn't even know who Jerry Seinfeld was. So I looked back through my collection, and, sure enough, there was Jerry on the cover of October 1993. The discovery I made is that Jerry Seinfeld and I think alike in many ways and have had similar life experiences. In fact, the only difference between us might be that he is rich and famous and I am neither. Okay, maybe he is a better writer, too. And maybe funnier. At any rate, I've chosen some selections from the interview because I would have given almost exactly the same replies that he gave.
From the Playboy interview with Jerry Seinfeld, October, 1993: Seinfeld: Even I, though I might not seem to be, am constantly irritated. Rensin: What irritates you? Seinfeld: Everything. I just hate everything and everybody. Rensin: How were you with girls? Seinfeld: Uneventful. I kind of withdrew from a lot of social activity. I didn't like group mentality and group behavior. I wanted to focus in on one person. I wanted to tell that person what I think about nuances and details and substructures. And you don't do that in groups. Rensin: Not when you're just eight years old. Seinfeld: And even now you don't. You go to parties and it's all breezy bullshitting, chitchatting. I like that up to a point, but then I'm bored by it. I want to sit with somebody and get down to the nuts and bolts. Rensin: You're not an unwitting dupe of the church? Seinfeld: No, I've always had the skill of extracting the essence of any subject I study, be it meditation, yoga, Scientology, Judaism, Zen. Whatever it is, I go in to get what I need. To me, these are supermarkets. I go in to get my supplies, then I leave. Rensin: [W]hen did you lose your virginity? Seinfeld: I'm not sure whether I was 19 or 20. Rensin: Why so late? Seinfeld: I hated the idea of upsetting a woman in any way, so the slightest amount of resistance would deter me. I had no persistance at all. Still don't, really. If she is at all reticent, I'm out of there. It kills the mood for me. I don't want to sell anybody anything. Rensin: You like doing dishes? Seinfeld: I like the water and I like the soap. Rensin: Do you like to iron? Seinfeld: No. I like vacuuming, though. I like the way the carpet looks after I'm done. I like those lines the wheels make. Seinfeld: See, the thing is, my own age isn't really real to me. I look in the mirror and I just don't feel 39. I don't feel any different than I was when I was 23. And I don't look that much different. So it's weird.
January 13, 1998
John A. Johnson