One of my favorite things about this life is the fact that a “show about nothing” can be called the most influential TV sitcom of all time. “Seinfeld” was and always will be the very beginning of my love affair with comedy (I assume it is the very beginning of a sense of humor for many people).
When people say that they don’t think “Seinfeld” is funny or they “just don’t get it” I have to resist the urge to tell them they are wrong. Sure, there might not be any real plot line and there is zero character development in nine whole seasons, but still, it’s comedy at it’s best.
That’s probably because it was created and written by stand-ups. The main comedy of “Seinfeld” was observational. It was like stand-up being acting out in a short play. It wasn’t supposed to tell a fancy story. It wasn’t supposed to feature a bar like “Cheers” or a love story like Ross and Rachel on “Friends.” It was just everyday observations.
That’s probably why “Seinfeld” worked. It was different, but it wasn’t trying to be anything but what Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld set out to make. It had memorable characters and one-liners, but you never got caught up in any sort of hype because the characters always stayed the same. Although Jerry and Elaine might have dated in the past, you never “shipped” them (Well you know you do, but not the Ross/Rachel type of ship. More of a I hope they stay besties forever type of thing.). There was never any big drama or fancy romances. Which meant that in the end the only thing you were allowed to focus on was the comedy.
Have you ever watched “Seinfeld” and thought to yourself, “Man, that is so true! I totally relate to the neurotic thing George is trying to explain to Jerry.” Every time I watch an episode I think that. The observations are so true to real life that the show becomes way more related than anything even John Hughes wrote (no offense, sir). If you don’t think that isn’t the greatest sitcom of all time then you should go back to the start of this blog and re-read everything I just said.
“Seinfeld” holds a special place in my heart for another reason. A very different one actually. The show was really my first exposure to comedy. The sitcom was already well into it’s forth season when I came into the world, but that didn’t stop my father, Steve, from exposing me to it. I sat with him every Thursday night and watched what he called “The only show on television worth a damn.” Something very important that you should know about my father is the fact that he is a harsh critic. He doesn’t think much is funny. He has voiced that he has liked exactly four TV shows that I know of in his life; “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men,” “Seinfeld,” and “Hawaii Five O.”
Even as a small child I knew that Steve was right. It was important for me to learn to be funny from the masters. So, week after week I reluctantly sat with my father and watched Jerry and the gang not understanding a word (because I was small and had no idea what “Yada yada yada” was supposed to mean). Eventually, years later actually, I understood that dad was teaching me about a sense of humor before I even knew what one was and how important it would be to me later in life.
Now I regard my dad as the funniest person I know. He has one-liners and weird observations about life that parallel that of George Costanza and he has shown both me and my brother how to laugh. I don’t think Steve knew back in 1998 when we sat and watched the final episode together that humor would become one of the most important things in my life. He had no idea that my “Seinfeld” roots would one day open the door to numerous comedy heroes and obsessions.
So tonight, in honor of the 25th anniversary of that first episode, I will remember the show that taught me how to laugh and understand good writing and great comedians and I honor my father who introduced me to it all. And as our friend Jerry would say, “I can’t go to a bad movie by myself. What, am I gonna make sarcastic remarks to strangers?”