Jerry Seinfeld isn’t exactly a social butterfly when it comes to giving interviews these days, but he did take to popular social media site Reddit for an AMA, or “Ask Me Anything” session. Users are invited as ask Seinfeld anything at all, and he responds to whichever questions he feels like.
Fortunately for us, Jerry Seinfeld’s Reddit AMA was an interesting one, and I thought I’d compile some of the best highlights from it below. Check out some of the better questions and answers below, or read the whole thing here.
Q: How come you decided upon clean humor and to never go blue?
Seinfeld: “Well when I started out in comedy in the 70s, if you didn’t do clean humor you weren’t getting on TV, so I started doing that so I could be on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. And then when I saw what other people were doing, I just always wanted to be a little different.”
Q: What is the most mundane thing you and Larry have obsessed over?
Seinfeld: “We never obsess over anything that isn’t mundane. Most recent was intentional mumbling. We wrote this script for this thing that you will eventually see but I can’t reveal what it is at this time. All I can do is tell you is that it’s big, huge, gigantic. Even bigger than that Amazon package.”
Q: How do you feel about laugh tracks on sitcoms?
“This was something we struggled with quite often on Seinfeld. Because we had real laughs on the scenes that were shot in front of an audience, but then we would shoot other scenes that were not in front of the audience (which didn’t have any laughs) and then it felt like a bit of a mismatch, so we tried to compromise and put in a subtle laugh track. I think that one of the fun things of a sitcom is feeling like you’re in an audience even though you’re home, watching it by yourself. I have to say I like some sitcoms with them and some without. Depends on the show.”
Q: Any stories that you can tell about your most memorable heckle? Or how did you handle your first when doing stand-up?
Seinfeld: “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.”
Q: What do you think of the Twitter accounts which imagine Seinfeld in modern times?
Seinfeld: “Oh this is a very painful subject. As you can probably imagine, over the 9 years of doing the show, Larry David and I sat through hundreds of ideas that people wanted to do on the show. And most of the ideas are not good. Which I saw Larry say the other day on some show, somebody asked him the same question and he said “I know you think it’s funny, but it’s really hard.” The ideas that Larry and I would respond to, I don’t even know, they just need to be very unique. It’s just a lot harder than it seems to come up with. And particularly for that show, where we tried to do things that were unusual, and you had to go through a lot of ideas to find the ones you like.”
Q: Do you find yourself often quoting the more popular lines from the show?
Seinfeld: “The only line I quote from the show (and I’ll be very impressed if anybody out tehre remembers this line) is “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.”
I find myself saying that to my kids a lot. It’s a very obscure line, but George was working at some company where they all had lunch together, and he wasn’t trying the apple pie, and the boss finally says “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” A lot of times kids won’t want to try certain foods, and so I’ll use that line. Sometimes I’ll quote Newman in flames screaming “Oh the humanity.”
Q: How do you deal with writers block?
Seinfeld: “Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”