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The End of 'Seinfeld'

Page 8 of 8

'Seinfeld' was described by a writer for 'The New Republic' as "the worst, last gasp of Reaganite, grasping, materialistic, narcissistic, banal self-absorption." Discuss.

Jason Alexander: OK. You know – no argument. That's all there – that's absolutely all there. I guess the Reagan era is defined as the "I want it all for me and screw everybody else" era. And that is certainly reflected in the show. There is no community service in "Seinfeld." But rather than lauding that, I think it shows the insane banality of it.

Jerry Seinfeld: What is it again? I love it. That is so funny. That is so perfectly... unaware. That's someone that knows nothing about humor at all. Because you could say that about Laurel and Hardy. Laurel and Hardy was the worst, last gasp of, I think, Woodrow Wilson-ite self-absorption, these guys always trying to get ahead and turning on each other for their own selfish means. [The mistake is] really thinking that we're beyond that now, that we've all come to our senses: "No one's acting selfishly anymore! We've all woken up!"

Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Well, I guess I don't understand what they mean. I don't think anybody in the Reagan administration could ever have written anything as funny as this show is.

Larry David: [Overcome with merriment] Read it again! [Listens] Yeah, I'll accept that, except for the Reaganite part. They clearly do not like it. There has been criticism of the show that has really got under my skin, but something like that is kinda funny. Oh, that was mean, but it was well written. I appreciate a good turn of phrase. That is just reeking of political correctness, that writer. That is just a humorless individual.

Michael Richards: Jesus. Someone who wrote that was college-educated? Well, I guess you can see whatever you want to see. [Listens to the list again] Yeah. That's there. There's no denying it. That's there, and a lot more. We eat it like nicely fried chicken.

Saturday, April 11th, Evening

That's still not quite the end. One summer, just before the Seinfeld crew returned to work, Seinfeld went into Stage Nine. It was entirely empty, apart from the apartment and coffee-shop sets stuck in the middle of this huge void. And he thought: When all this ends, we will have a party just like this – Stage Nine, the two sets, everyone who has been close to the show.

That party is held this evening. Midway through, a Seinfeld "gag reel" is shown – an extended collection of on-set mess-ups, most of which involve cast members dissolving into hysterics. Afterward, Seinfeld draws the raffle prize of a trip for two to New York. Before the gag reel, he stands on the coffee table in his apartment and says a few words. He tells the gathered crowd how much he loves them, and though he tells them in a funny way, this is one time in his life when the message is clearly more important than the jokes. Louis-Dreyfus takes the microphone and tries to explain how they love him, but she breaks down. Alexander echoes the words. "This is," he says, "the most amazing dysfunctional family in the history of television." Michael Richards steps up, and his words will be equally tender. But first, he looks down, perplexed. "I'm always looking for something in the apartment to do," he says, "and I've never stood on the coffee table." And Kramer never will.

Seinfeld stands there, his eyes wide open, weeping.

A Conversation about Secret plans:

Me: People wonder if you have a secret plan.

Seinfeld: Yes. Well, they can wonder.

Me: Is there a secret plan?

Seinfeld: I'm not saying anything.

Friday, April 10th, late afternoon

Hugo's is shut by the time we get up to leave. No one else is there. Seinfeld and I have been so busy talking that we didn't notice them shutting up. We try the doors. Locked. We check the kitchen. Empty. We can find no way out. I check the sign on the door. They don't reopen until tomorrow morning. "This," says Seinfeld, "is very funny." He wanders over to the counter, lifts up the clear plastic lid that covers the cookies and helps himself. "Have one," he says. "They're free."

Related
'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Seinfeld' Writers Talk About the Genius of Larry David
A History of Comedy Stars on the Cover of Rolling Stone
The 'Curb' Effect: How Larry David Changed Comedy Forever

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