Jerry Seinfeld’s Icons
Q: Can you tell us how your white sneaker collection first started?
Jerry: It started with wanting to be Joe Namath of the 1969 New York jets, who at that time was one of the only football players to wear white shoes. And I wanted to be like him, so I always wore white sneakers. Also, Bill Cosby on I SPY always wore white sneakers. And they were my fashion icons.”
Everyone has idols and icons. Even Jerry Seinfeld parroted a few others early on. He found his own way later, but it’s good to see the 17 year old Seinfeld idolizing Namath and Cosby the way I idolized a Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams. (Still have a collection of gaudy leather jackets).
This is from an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Jerry recently did on Reddit. It was stellar. Here’s some of my favorite quotes:
I chose comedy because I thought it seemed much easier than work. And more fun than work. It turned out to be much harder than work, and not easy at all. But you still don’t have to ever really grow up. And that’s the best thing of all.
On the key to the show:
I would go so far as to say that was the key to the entire show, was that we really felt like together we were funny, and then the audience felt it, and that’s how you can somehow catch lightning in a bottle.”
Reminds me of our chemistry on the Fizzle Show. None of us can take credit for how much we like doing this with one another. I think the show’s gotten big for that reason. (not “show-of-the-90s” big, but big… for a podcast).
On being the straight man:
The reason I would play straight was it was funnier for the scene. And very few people have ever remarked on this, because it was a conscious choice of mine, only because I knew it would make the show better, and I didn’t care who was funny as long as somebody was funny and that the show was funny. So you have hit upon one of the great secret weapons of the Seinfeld series, was that I had no issue with that.
On the TV show Jerry is a comedian. Yet to his friends he plays the straight guy. I never connected those dots before.
Very early on in my career, I hit upon this idea of being the Heckle Therapist. So that when people would say something nasty, 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. It opened up this whole fun avenue for me as a comedian, and no one had ever seen that before. Some of my comedian friends used to call me – what did they say? – that I would counsel the heckler instead of fighting them. Instead of fighting them, I would say “You seem so upset, and I know that’s not what you wanted to have happen tonight. Let’s talk about your problem” and the audience would find it funny and it would really discombobulate the heckler too, because I wouldn’t go against them, I would take their side.
I had a heckler once on a blog post (i’m kind of a big deal, lots of blog posts n’ stuff… action figures too). I’m heading this way from now on.
Reminds me of Marc Maron in his talk with Stewart Lee… “oh no, you’re not liking this are you… this isn’t what you were expecting? I understand. It’ll all be over soon.”
Less of an “I have an obligation to make you like me”… more of a “my job is to talk to my people, do me.”
If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.”
His notes on this were great. This is poster-worthy.