Who Is Jerry Seinfeld?
Jerry Seinfeld is an actor and comedian who made his stand-up debut at an open mic night in 1976 and appeared on The Tonight Show in 1981. After starring in his own television special in 1987, he developed the sitcom Seinfeld for NBC with fellow comedian Larry David. The sitcom ran for nine seasons and was the highest-rated show in the United States when the final episode aired in 1998. He later created the reality show The Marriage Ref and the interview series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Early Life and Career
Jerome Seinfeld was born on April 29, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York. Seinfeld's interest in comedy was sparked at an early age through the influence of his father, a sign maker who was also a closet comedian. By age eight, Seinfeld was putting himself through rigorous comic training, watching television day and night to study the techniques of comedians. Over the years, he developed a unique style of comedy that centered on his wry observations on life's mundanities.
Seinfeld studied communications and theater at Queens College, City University of New York, and shortly after graduation in 1976 he made his stand-up debut at an open mic night in the Catch a Rising Star nightclub. He worked his way up to an appearance on The Tonight Show in 1981, which gave Seinfeld his first national exposure. By the late 1980s, he was one of the highest-profile stand-up comedians in the United States.
Commercial Success and 'Seinfeld'
After starring in the television special Jerry Seinfeld's Stand-up Confidential (1987), Seinfeld was asked to develop a sitcom with NBC. He teamed up with friend and fellow comedian Larry David to create Seinfeld, which hit the air in 1989.
Produced and sometimes co-written by Seinfeld, the quirky, widely watched show emphasized loosely structured stories; seemingly insignificant subject matter; and a buddy system of comedy in which the Jerry character often played a straight man to his three tightly wound screwball friends, Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards).
The sitcom reached unprecedented levels of popularity and critical acclaim, and many of its catchphrases and plot elements became part of the cultural lexicon. Seinfeld ran for nine seasons and was the highest-rated show in the United States when its final episode aired in 1998.
Films and Books
Seinfeld returned to stand-up comedy in the late 1990s, embarking on multiple national tours of comedy clubs and theaters, one of which was documented in the 2002 film Comedian. He also wrote Seinlanguage (1993), a best-selling book of humorous observations, and the children's book Halloween (2003). Additionally, he co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the animated Bee Movie (2007).
'The Marriage Ref' and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'
In 2010, Seinfeld made a return to television with The Marriage Ref. This reality show featured a panel of comedians who were asked to weigh in on the real-life conflicts and squabbles of different couples. It was canceled after one season. Seinfeld has fared much better with his interview show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which debuted in 2012. Over the years, he has talked with such comedy stars as Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy and Amy Schumer.
In early 2018, TMZ reported that a producer named Christian Charles had filed a lawsuit alleging that Seinfeld stole the idea for Comedians in Cars from him. According to the lawsuit, Charles pitched the idea to Seinfeld as far back as 2002 and even directed a pilot episode, but was cut out after demanding ownership interest. Seinfeld's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the suit in June 2018, his court brief asserting that the idea of the show was too broad to justify the lawsuit and that Charles only sued after learning how much Seinfeld was getting paid per episode.
In September 2019, a Manhattan district judge ruled in favor of Seinfeld on the grounds that the statute of limitations for Charles' legal claim to ownership of the Comedians in Cars concept had expired.
Netflix Specials: 'Jerry Before Seinfeld' and '23 Hours to Kill'
September 2017 brought the Netflix special Jerry Before Seinfeld, which showed the comedy icon revisiting some of his early jokes at Manhattan's Comic Strip club, where he honed his routine in the 1970s, along with off-stage reflections and little-seen footage of his childhood.
On May 5, 2020, Netflix aired Seinfeld's first stand-up special of original material in 22 years with 23 Hours to Kill. Along with featuring his riffs on marriage and the irritating habits of friends, the special showed the now senior citizen-aged comedian jumping from a helicopter into the Hudson River.
Wife and Kids
Seinfeld married public relations executive Jessica Sklar on December 25, 1999. The couple has three children.
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