Line(s) of the Day #Seinfeld

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Line(s) of the Day #Seinfeldia

seinfeld-book

When Melhman went out into the “real world” beyond Seinfeld’s office walls, he found that everyone wanted in television wanted the “next Seinfeld”, but they didn’t want to take the risks necessary to make such a thing.  They wanted Seinfeld money, but they seemed to resent Seinfeld itself for breaking the rules of television. He would go in to pitch ideas to executives and hear, over and over, “That character’s not very likeable.” He’d thought Seinfeld had done away with likeability.

An anecdote by Peter Melhman as written by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong in her book Seinfeldia (2015). The book tells of the fascinating history of how a sitcom frequently voted the best ever came to be made, its impact on popular culture and how it shook up the rules of comedy. I’ve written quite a few posts on the show including an outline of the show and some of its most memorable quotes by its eponymous protagonist, Jerry Seinfeld.

Line(s) of the Day #Seinfeld

Elaine George and Jerry

Elaine: Married women don’t “get together”. They have affairs.
George: Oh my God, an affair. That’s so adult. It’s like with stockings and martinis, and William Holden. On the other hand it probably wouldn’t cost me any money.

Julia Louis Dreyfus and Jason Alexander in the gloriously brilliant sitcom Seinfeld (1989 – 1998). You can find my reasons for it being the best sitcom ever here.

Reviews and other Features: Sitcoms quiz

As you all will have noticed I really do love to laugh. It really is such a great feeling. Below are 15 of the shows I watched that continually had me in stitches. How many of the 15 sitcoms can you work out? Is there one that make you laugh more than the others? As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

TV show 1 1.

TV show 2 2.

TV show 3 3.

TV show 4 4.

TV show 5 5.

 

TV show 6 6.

TV show 7 7.

TV show 8 8.

TV show 9 9.

TV show 10 10.

TV show 11 11.

TV show 12 12.

TV show 13 13.

TV show 14 14.

TV show 15 15.

 

Answers

_______________________

1. Father Ted

2. The Golden Girls

3. Blackadder

4. Yes, Minister

5. Friends

6. Frasier

7. The Inbetweeners

8. Seinfeld

9. The Larry Sanders Show

10. Only Fools and Horses

11. Everybody Loves Ramond

12. Flight of the Conchords

13. Fawlty Towers

14. Scrubs

15. Arrested Development

 

Line(s) of the Day #Seinfeld

Jerry and Kramer

Jerry: I think I’m in love.
Kramer: Oh. Come on.
Jerry: No it’s true. This woman saved my life. I was crossing the street .I was almost hit by a car…and then we talked and…….the whole thing just seemed like a dream.
Kramer: If a guy saved your life you’d be in love with him too.
Jerry: No, no this woman is different , she’s incredible. she’s just like me. She talks like me, she acts like me. She even ordered cereal at a restaurant. We even have the same initials. Wait a minute, I just realised what’s going on.
Kramer: What?
Jerry: Now I know what I’ve been looking for all these years……myself! I’ve been waiting for me to come along and now I’ve swept myself off my feet.

Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards in the superlative US sitcom Seinfeld (1989 – 1998)

Gr8at – Jerry Seinfeld

Seinfeld

Widely acclaimed as the best sitcom of all time and one of my personal favourites, Seinfeld is a phenomenal show that pushed all kind of comedic boundaries. And holding all the madness together was Seinfeld playing a semi-fictionalised version of himself. Below are eight of his finest quotes from the legendary show.

Jerry: All right. How ’bout this one: let’s say you’re abducted by aliens.
George:  Fine.
Jerry: They haul you aboard the mother ship, take you back to their planet as a curiosity. Now: would you rather be in their zoo, or their circus?
George: I gotta go zoo. I feel like I could set more of my own schedule.
Jerry: But in the circus you get to ride around in the train, see the whole planet!
George:  I’m wearing a little hat, I’m jumping through fire… They’re putting their little alien heads in my mouth…
Jerry: At least it’s show business…
George: But in the zoo, you know, they might, put a woman in there with me to, uh… you know, get me to mate.
Jerry: What if she’s got no interest in you?
George: Then I’m pretty much where I am now. At least I got to take a ride on a spaceship.

 

Kramer: No, she was completely topless.
George: How good of a look did you get?
Jerry: What do you mean?
George: Say she was a criminal and you had to describe her to the police…
Jerry: They’d pick her up in about ten minutes.

 

George: I got a message from the Ross’ at work today.
Jerry: Susan’s parents? When’s the last time you talked with them?
George: At the funeral, give or take…. You know, deep down, I always kinda felt that they blamed me for Susan’s death.
Jerry: Why? Because you picked out the poison envelopes?… That’s silly.

 

Jerry: So Miranda’s cooled on you?
George: I’m gettin’ nothin’!
Jerry: Yeah, me neither.
George: Really? I thought you and Celia were sleeping together.
Jerry: Oh, the sex is wild, but she’s got this incredible toy collection and she won’t let me near it!

 

Jerry: Hey, Kramer, if I killed somebody, would you turn me in?
Kramer: Definitely.
Jerry: You’re kidding!
Kramer: No, no. I would turn you in.
Jerry: You would turn me in?
Kramer: I wouldn’t even think about it.
Jerry: I can’t believe I’m hearing this. You’re supposed to be a friend of mine!
Kramer: Well, what kind of person are you going around killing people?
Jerry: Well, I am sure I had a good reason!
Kramer: Well, if you’ll kill this person, who’s to say I wouldn’t be next?
Jerry: But you know me!
Kramer: I thought I did!

 

Jerry: It’s amazing! You’re getting a secretary! Last week you were taking messages for your mother…
George: And now someone will be taking messages for ME!
Jerry: …From your mother.

 

George: So I’m the bad boy. I’ve never been the bad boy before.
Jerry: Why not? You’ve been the bad employee, the bad son, the bad friend…
George Costanza: Yes, yes, yes…
Jerry: The bad fiancé, the bad dinner guest, the bad credit risk…
George Costanza: OK, the point is made.
Jerry: The bad date, the bad sport, the bad citizen…
[George leaves]
Jerry: The bad tipper.

 

Jerry: Don’t you hate the “to be continued” ‘s on TV? It’s horrible when you sense the “to be continued” coming. You know, you’re watching the show, you’re into the story. You know, there’s like 5 minutes left and you realize “Hey! They can’t make it! Timmy’s still stuck in the cave. There’s no way they wrap this up in 5 minutes!”. I mean the whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I want a long, boring story with no point to it, I have my life. A comedian can’t do that, see, I can’t go “a man walks into a bar with a pig under his arms. Can you come back next week?”

Line(s) of the Day

Jerry, George and Kramer

Cosmo Kramer: (still over excited) Who wants to have some fun!
Jerry and George: I do.
Cosmo Kramer: (once again, over excited) Are you just sayin’ you want to have fun,or do you really want to have fun?
Jerry: I really wanna have some fun.
George Costanza: I’m just sayin’ I wanna have some fun.

Michael Richards, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander in the sitcom Seinfeld (1989 -1998)

 

Gr8 – Comedic Characters

They may not be the star of the show, and weren’t even in all of the episodes, but these comedic characters did more than deliver a punchline, shape a storyline or provide insights to the major players. A salute to the characters who were just too damn awesome to limit to just one episode.

Lionel Hutz – The Simpsons

Lionel Hutz pic

A lawyer as unethical as he is unsuccessful. Quite content to claim a phone booth as an office, offer shoe repair and use a doctor as immoral as him, only the resourceful Hutz would sue the casting producers for not giving clients a part whilst starring in the production itself. Hutz was the ultimate ambulance chaser with eternal optimism in search of a quick buck. Attempting to put Homer and Marge at ease he explains: “I’ve argued in front of every judge in this state…often as a lawyer!” He even decided to try his luck at real estate, as most of his clients ended up losing their homes anyway. Hutz was voiced with panache by the irreplaceable and multi-talented and Phil Hartman, who also brought Troy McClure to life. Hartman’s tragic death may have robbed us of other classic lines, but it also meant his character is immortalised with just genuine quality and unlike the show itself, never fell away. Besides, his work with Hutz is just too good to be forgotten. When Bart tells him he wants to be a lawyer just like him, he replies with flawless sincerity: ‘Good for you son. If there’s one thing America needs, it’s more lawyers.”

Linda Freeman – Two and a Half Men

Linda Freeman

Though she hit the award-laden big time in the current campfest that is Glee, actress Jane Lynch already had an acting CV as long as a comedic wall of China. One that stands out even among her strong acting repertoire is as the acerbic shrink Linda Freeman in Two and a Half Men. Her role as a therapist for Alan’s son Jake, before extending to Charlie and Alan, and later to Charlie’s replacement Walden, Freeman represents a cynical outlook that refuses to pull any punches. When Alan falls asleep for 40 minutes in her session, she charges him for the full hour by reasoning that she was still awake even if he wasn’t. When Charlie tells her that he has become constipated around the same time he has feelings for two different women who want to marry him, she explains he is emotionally and therefore physically blocked: “If you pick one, you can go two”. Her lack of empathy is best summed up when Charlie complains that is it cheaper for him to get a prostitute than pay her fees. She retorts: “Hookers don’t have to listen to you.”

Franklin – Arrested Development

Franklin

With all the phenomenal characters in Arrested Development, it may seem sneaky to go for a puppet but then again Arrested Development was that kind of show. Introduced in series 2, Franklin Delano Bluth was a foul-mouthed, streetwise black puppet who had the ability to make anyone using him adopt his outrageous personality. The racially vocal Franklin was even treated like a member of the family either when being arrested by cops, acknowledged by security guards or being attacked by George Bluth Senior (forcing GOB who is controlling him to say ‘That’s my hand, dad!). Despite only appearing in seven episodes, Franklin was crucial to storylines (once even taking the stand in court!), having a singing career with GOB and making political statements, such as wearing a ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black puppets’ t-shirt) When a laundry accident leaves him bleached, Michael quips: “At least he’ll be allowed in the country club now”.

Bulldog – Frasier

Bulldog

A brash prankster, Bob ‘Bulldog’ Briscoe certainly had the ability to jump off the page and steal any scene. Host of the Gonzo Sports Show, which runs straight after Frasier’s phone-in programme, the amoral Bulldog consistently acts like a pin to Frasier’s pompous balloon. What makes it so much worse for Frasier is that the popularity of Bulldog’s show (even including Frasier’s dad) means he can get away with all kinds of crudely inappropriate comments that would get the rest of us fired. Despite his lack of height and sporting physique, Bulldog acts machismo, but as shown by his fear of lizards and use of his colleague Roz as a shield from a gunman, it’s shown to be all bluster. Believing the three magical words to say to a woman are “Stay for breakfast”, he also refuses to blame himself for anything: “Doctors. You pick up the same disease three or four times, they start lecturing you like it’s your fault.” When called up on his tactless behaviour, his excuse is that of the ultimate showman: “Screw you. I’m an artist. We live by different rules.”

Newman – Seinfeld

newman

Jerry’s “sworn enemy” and Kramer’s occasional partner in crime, the indelible Newman is a cartoon style villain who fits perfectly into the madcap world of Seinfeld. Living down the hall from Jerry and continually able to get under his skin (once quite literally when he introduces fleas into his apartment), Newman is always scheming ways for obtaining financial success and that dream transfer to Hawaii. A postman who hilariously represents the worst of the stereotype, and refuses to deliver the mail when it rains, Newman delights in his mischief. Originally meant to be the son of a landlord and only supposed to be in one episode, Wayne Knight’s stocky build and superb portrayal inevitably meant he was given more, eventually making 48 appearances (out of 180 episodes). Knight’s pitch perfect delivery (which has since led to plenty of voiceover work) fully realised Newman’s vocabulary, which could quote poems, describe broccoli as a “vile weed” and Jerry’s audience as a “half-soused nightclub rabble”.

Trigger – Only Fools and Horses

Trigger

With competition that includes Homer, Coach/Woody, Dougal and Baldrick, Trigger truly is three cards short of a full deck and one of comedies iconic idiots. A friend of Del Boy since school and nicknamed after his resemblance to the horse who partnered with actor Roy Rogers in the 50s and 60s, Trigger is 24 carat road sweeper gold. Even in a show with working class characters, Trigger’s lack of intelligence is astounding and hilarious, capable of stealing even the funniest scene, or livening up an otherwise ordinary one. When Del Boy, surprised to see the wasteland dump closed, says that Trigger had told him it was open 24 hours a day, Trigger replies: “It is, but not at night”. Aware of Rodney’s growing interest in saving the environment, Trigger decides to cheer him up by changing from the fossil fuels of gas and oil to coal. When a girl approaches him and tells him that she is not wearing a bra, he says back “I’m not wearing a vest but you don’t hear me bragging about it”. Trigger’s inability to realise that Del Boy’s brother is called Rodney, and not Dave, is one of comedy’s greatest running gags. But amidst his inadvertent one liners, even his stare was enough to get a laugh, as best seen in the legendary scene where Del Boy falls through the bar and Trigger fails to notice. Though actor Roger Lloyd Pack has had a decorated acting career, Trigger will always be his finest hour.

Mrs Wolowitz – The Big Bang Theory

Mrs Wolowitz

When it comes to great recurring characters in The Big Bang Theory, we really are spoilt for choice. There is the self-deprecating comic shop owner Stuart who openly admits his professional failures and dating shortcomings that always puts the group’s problems into comical perspective. Not to mention the experimental physicist Leslie Winkle who is un-intimidated by the “dumbass” Sheldon and has her own take on romantic social conventions. But arguably, the star is Mrs Wolowitz, Howard’s mother. Jewish mothers are ripe for comedic interpretation, and her role as an overprotective, overbearing and opinionated single mother is a joy. She joins Maris Crane, Vera Petersen, Carlton the Doorman and Bob Sacamento in a list of characters who are mentioned but never seen, though unlike them we actually hear her voice. And boy do we hear it! Shouting everything, Mrs Wolowitz continues to treat Howard as though he was still a child, a relationship she disturbingly (and hilariously) seems to pass on to Howard’s wife Bernadette. Though co-creator Chuck Lorre has promised never to show her face (the odd blurred image aside), the fact she is described as being obese, having facial hair and painted on eyebrows means we could probably pick her out of a line up anyhow.

Larry Duff – Father Ted

Larry Duff

There are running gags of course, and then there are running gags. In the crazy world of Craggy Ireland, a continuous visual joke about a man being called on his mobile at the worst possible time makes perfect sense. A long time friend of Father Ted, (though the two are never in the same room together), Ted himself buys Duff the phone and calls him after Duff is “always complaining nobody ever rings him on it”. This includes getting called while skiing down a steep slope, when just about to turn driving by a steep cliff edge, when trying to control rottweilers he has just bought, being accused of weapons smuggling by armed guards, when about to be trampled by donkeys, and when getting skewered by a blindfolded knife thrower. Arguably, the two most memorable ones are when he is just about to win £10,000 on a gameshow after almost completing the main challenge and when he is just about to finish a card pyramid but knocks it over after mistakenly grabbing the stapler. Regularly described as “tremendous fun” by Ted, Duff certainly leads an adventurous and charmed life, rewarded by always recovering for his next appearance.

Seinfeld

Seinfeld main pic

In a 90s era when great US sitcoms were being produced almost conveyor belt style, the comedy trailblazer that was Seinfeld, always had that ability to stand out from the crowd.

But even 15 years after it finished, the adventures of a New York comedian and his wacky group of friends are still regularly shown, showing that true genius never dates.

Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David (who left after series seven and created Curb Your Enthusiasm) and released in 1990, it has real life comic Seinfeld playing a fictionalised version of himself who tries to avoid getting involved in the chaos that surrounds him. Alongside him are his neurotic, cynical and selfish schoolfriend George (based on Larry David), his ex-girlfriend, the assertive but superficial Elaine and his extremely eccentric neighbour Kramer.

Seinfeld - Merv Griffin Show

Famously described as a show about nothing, the clever storylines included such seemingly trivial things as waiting for a restaurant reservation, an old library book, a junior mint and finding your car in the parking garage.  But each episode was carefully plotted and lying not so beneath the surface was a cavalier and outright hysterical attitude to society’s most controversial subjects.  Seinfeld not only broke the rules but rewrote them as it tackled issues including masturbation, impotence, birth control, and even the Kennedy assassination.

The imaginative concepts broke through traditions and had an astonishing amount of energy.  In the episode entitled “The Invitations”, Jerry meets a woman with whom he has a freakish amount in common.  “Now I know what I’ve been looking for all these years…myself!  I’ve been waiting for me to come along and now I’ve swept myself off my feet!” In ‘The Opposite’ George realises that going against his instincts can radically transform his life.  In ‘The Merv Griffin Show’, Kramer sets up his apartment so that visitors have to act as though they are a talk show guest.

Seinfeld - Kramer and Jerry

And boy, weren’t there some great catchphrases along the way.  “My boys can swim”, “Master of his domain”, “spongeworthy”, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”, and “These pretzels are making me thirsty” are just some of the most recognised the show produced.

But for all Seinfeld’s edgy writing it was a show that revolved around its distinctive characters.  While they couldn’t be trusted, especially George, we revelled in their spectacular failures.  Right from the start the show kept to the “no hugging, no learning” rule, which meant that the characters would happily betray each other for personal gain, constantly avoiding any kind of sentimentality.  While they nearly always got what they deserved, they refused to change their selfish ways and the cycle continued.

Seinfeld - Elaine dancing

Any sign of maturity in the characters was quickly dismissed.  The brilliance comes in making us care for characters who have no respect for each other or society’s traditions. While most other sitcoms have some if not all of their characters in cosy relationships by the end, Seinfeld showed why it just couldn’t work for their characters. George’s decision to propose to an ex-girlfriend is impulsive and done as part of a deal with Jerry.  Elaine once ended a relationship over a guy’s limited use of exclamation marks.  “You gotta see the baby” is the remark that best sums up the gang’s attitude to having children.

Frasier may have set records by winning 37 Emmys, and Friends was always more popular amongst the younger demographic, but it was Seinfeld that really took comedy to new levels.  Never as popular in the UK for reasons including lack of promotion and poor time scheduling, it nevertheless remained popular worldwide. In American culture it still continued to amaze audiences, even after the show took a slightly more outlandish route in the last two series.

Seinfeld - George trying to look cool

When it was announced that the show would end after 180 episodes, it made the front page of all the national newspapers, including the cover of Time magazine.  In 2002 TV Guide voted it the greatest TV show of all time and Entertainment channel E voted it number 1 for why the 90s ruled.  Jerry Seinfeld himself made it into the Guinness Book of records by turning down a deal of $5m per episode to continue the show. To put that in perspective, Charlie Sheen, the lead star of the most viewed comedy at the time, Two and a Half Men, was offered $1.78m per episode when he left in 2010.

While later episodes of Friends and Frasier dropped in quality when allowing marriage to enter into the equation, Seinfeld went against the happy ending formula and finished before betraying its original set up.  For a show that was centred around a comedian, it knew all about perfect timing.

Memorable Quotes

Jerry: All right. How ’bout this one: let’s say you’re abducted by aliens.
George:  Fine.
Jerry: They haul you aboard the mother ship, take you back to their planet as a curiosity. Now: would you rather be in their zoo, or their circus?
George: I gotta go zoo. I feel like I could set more of my own schedule.
Jerry: But in the circus you get to ride around in the train, see the whole planet!
George:  I’m wearing a little hat, I’m jumping through fire… They’re putting their little alien heads in my mouth…
Jerry: At least it’s show business…
George: But in the zoo, you know, they might, put a woman in there with me to, uh… you know, get me to mate.
Jerry: What if she’s got no interest in you?
George: Then I’m pretty much where I am now. At least I got to take a ride on a spaceship.

Elaine: Kevin and his friends are nice people! They do good things. They read.
Jerry: I read.
Elaine: Books, Jerry.
Jerry: Oh.

Elaine: You know, men can sit through the most boring movie if there’s even the slightest possibility that a woman will take her top off.
George: So what’s your point?

George: I have a bad feeling that whenever a lesbian looks at me they think “That’s why I’m not a heterosexual.”

Jerry: Mom and pop aren’t even a mom and pop?
George: It was all an act, Jerry. They conned us, and they scored big-time!
Elaine: So, mom and pop’s plan was to move into the neighbourhood, establish trust… for 48 years, and then run off with Jerry’s sneakers?

Jerry: To a woman, sex is like the garbage man. You just take for granted the fact that any time you put some trash out on the street, a guy in a jumpsuit’s gonna come along and pick it up. But now, it’s like a garbage strike. The bags are piling up in your head. The sidewalk is blocked. Nothing’s getting through. You’re stupid.
Elaine: I don’t understand.
Jerry: Exactly.

Jerry: I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Whatley. I have a suspicion that he’s converted to Judaism just for the jokes.
Priest:  And this offends you as a Jewish person?
Jerry: No, it offends me as a comedian.

George: It became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision I’ve made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat – it’s all been wrong.

Estelle Costanza: Well, I’m out there (dating).
George: No, you’re not.
Estelle Costanza: Yes I am.
George: No, you’re not! Because I’m out there, and if I see *you* out there, there’s not enough voltage in the universe to electroshock me back into coherence.

Elaine: Why don’t you park in a garage?
George: Parking at a garage is like going to a prostitute. Why pay for it when you can apply yourself, and then maybe you can get it for free.

Elaine: You know, just admitting that another man is attractive doesn’t necessarily make you a homosexual.
George: Doesn’t help.

Kramer: No, she was completely topless.
George: How good of a look did you get?
Jerry: What do you mean?
George: Say she was a criminal and you had to describe her to the police…
Jerry: They’d pick her up in about ten minutes.

Jerry: Why didn’t you tell her your code?
George: I can’t give away my code to her.
Jerry: George, you’re gonna marry this woman… probably.
George: No way. The bank clearly says “Don’t give away your code to anyone”.
Jerry: So, you’re taking relationship advice from “Chemical Bank” now?
George: Why does it always have to be “us”? Why can’t there be a little “me”? Is that so selfish?
Jerry: Actually, that’s the definition of selfish.

George: I gotta call Elaine.
Jerry: She’s out.
George: Oh, yeah. The blind date.
Jerry: They call it a setup now. I guess the blind people don’t like being associated with all those losers.

George: So I’m the bad boy. I’ve never been the bad boy before.
Jerry: Why not? You’ve been the bad employee, the bad son, the bad friend…
George: Yes, yes, yes…
Jerry: The bad fiancé, the bad dinner guest, the bad credit risk…
George: OK, the point is made.
Jerry: The bad date, the bad sport, the bad citizen…
(George leaves)
Jerry: The bad tipper.

Jerry: Well, I cashed the checks, the checks bounced, and now my Nana’s missing.
Cosmo Kramer: Well don’t look at me.
Jerry: It’s your fault.
Cosmo Kramer: My fault? Your Nana is missing because she’s been passing those bum checks all over town and she finally pissed off the wrong people.

Mr. Ross: I don’t think there’s any greater tragedy than when parents outlive their children.
George: Yes, I hope my parents die long before I do.

George: Maybe if he could see me with some of my black friends…
Jerry: That would be great except that you don’t really have any black friends.
(pauses)
Jerry: Outside of us, you don’t really have any white friends, either…

George: And as punishment, I should get to sleep with Elaine.
Jerry: That’s not punishing me, that’s punishing Elaine. And cruelly, I might add…

Kramer: I was returning some pants. I took a short cut in a subway tunnel and fell in some mud, ruining my pants. The very pants I was returning.
Elaine: I don’t understand – you were wearing the pants you were returning?
Kramer: Well, I guess I was.
Elaine: What were you going to wear home?
Kramer: Elaine, are you listening? I never even got there.

Elaine: Married women don’t “get together”. They have affairs.
George: Oh my God, an affair. That’s so adult. It’s like with stockings and martinis, and William Holden. On the other hand it probably wouldn’t cost me any money.

Cast and Awards

Jerry Seinfeld ……….. as  Jerry Seinfeld
Julia Luis Dreyfus ……….. as  Elaine Benis
Michael Richards ……….. as Cosmo Kramer
Jason Alexander ……….. as  George Costanza

Number of series: 9
Number of episodes: 180
Years: 1989 -1998

Emmys: 10 from 68
Golden Globes: 3 from 15