Comedian Jerry Seinfeld's 1990s TV show remains everything to many of its fans

Portland Press Herald, MaineMay 8, 2014 

Stand Up For Heroes

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will be at the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond on Friday.

JOHN MINCHILLO — Invision/AP

  • IF YOU GO

    Jerry Seinfeld

    When: 7 p.m. May 9

    Where: EKU Center for the Arts, Lancaster Ave., Richmond

    Tickets: $65-$120 (only tickets priced at $85 were available at press time). Available at (859) 622-7469 or EKUcenter.com.

    ON TV

    'Seinfeld'

    Repeats are broadcast four episodes in a row, 5:30-7:30 p.m. weeknights, on TBS

Sixteen years later, people are still marveling at the magic of muffin tops, uttering "no soup for you!" to dinner guests and giggling any time the word shrinkage is used. Yes, there are many among us who live life according to Seinfeld.

To do so is to reject what critics said about the show — that it was about nothing — and instead embrace that it was about everything.

Jerry Seinfeld is mostly a stand-up comic these days, and he'll bring his act to the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond on Friday.

His appearance is a reminder of what a powerful pop culture force his sitcom was, and is.

Seinfeld ran from 1989 to 1998 on NBC, before online video streaming and other technologies started to whittle down the reach of network shows. Consider this: More than 76 million people watched the Seinfeld finale in 1998. Last fall, only 10.3 million saw the finale of one of today's hottest shows, Breaking Bad.

Never before or since has a sitcom been so focused on life's minutiae and mundane moments, and therefore so easy for millions to relate to. The Cosby Show was funny, but how many of us have a doctor father and lawyer mother? M*A*S*H was funny and poignant, but few of us experienced anything like being in a war in Korea.

One 1991 Seinfeld episode focused on the four main characters' search for Kramer's car in a mall parking garage.

Seinfeld was truly an ensemble comedy and not just a vehicle for Seinfeld. The characters of Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George (Jason Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards) were all as important as Jerry.

Still, in Seinfeld's career after the show, he is synonymous with the term "observational humor." As a stand-up comic, he continues to take little details of life overlooked by most media and find the ridiculousness in them.

He produces and stars in a Web series called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In one episode, Seinfeld is driving through Manhattan with Tina Fey when he spots an older woman with "the greatest hair an old woman has ever had." This observation leads to a discussion of wigs.

"I don't mind a wig," Seinfeld says. "I like healthy hair. I don't care where it's from or whose it was originally."

When Seinfeld ended, Seinfeld made an effort to go back into stand-up comedy. His attempts to get back into stand-up shape, by doing nightclub gigs constantly, was documented in the 2002 film Comedian.

Seinfeld grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and began honing his comedy at comedy clubs in New York City in the 1970s. By the early 1980s, he had appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and he went on to become a staple of other late-night shows.

In 1988, he and Larry David created The Seinfeld Chronicles for NBC, which later had its name shortened to Seinfeld. The series pilot debuted in summer 1989, but because of poor ratings, NBC decided not to air additional episodes that already had been filmed.

But the next year, an NBC executive who believed in the show fought to have the other episodes aired, and its popularity began to grow.

With reruns, DVDs and online streaming, the wisdom of Seinfeld continues to grow.

Little by little.

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