Happy Birthday

jerry seinfeld
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Happy Birthday, Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian and Actor

April 29, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
Jerry Seinfeld is most famous for playing himself on the hit TV show “Seinfeld,” as well as in the documentary “Comedian.” “Seinfeld” the show has been off the air since 1999, but it continues to play in syndication and is one of the most popular comedies on DVD. Seinfeld the comedian has continued doing stand-up.

Jerry Seinfeld’s Early Days

Jerry Seinfeld was born on April 29, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Massapequa, New York. He first sensed that he had a passion for stand-up at 8 years old, when he made a friend laugh so hard that the other boy spit up his snack. Seinfeld told Larry King, “I felt the milk and I saw it all coming at me and I said, ‘I would like to do this professionally.’”

It wasn’t until he was a theater and communications major at Queens College that he ventured onstage during amateur night at the club “Catch a Rising Star.” After he graduated, he tried his luck at various comedy clubs. He first appeared on TV in 1976 as part of a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special. He had a very brief stint on the sitcom “Benson,” and then in 1981, made his first performance on “The Tonight Show.”

Seinfeld’s Notable Accomplishments

By 1988, Seinfeld was performing in clubs around the country and appearing regularly on “The Tonight Show.” He was in talks with NBC to host a talk show when he and fellow comedian Larry David had the idea for a sitcom about the life of a comedian in New York.

The idea was developed into “The Seinfeld Chronicles,” later shortened to “Seinfeld,” with Seinfeld starring as a fictional version of himself. Debuting in July 1989, the “show about nothing” was unlike other sitcoms, focusing on the minor annoyances of daily life.

“I think the show became a hit because we took a little step forward in comedic tone. We gave it our own style,” Seinfeld told New York Magazine in 1998. “When it first came on, it didn’t sound like other sitcoms that were on at the time. …We got much more specific, and more neurotic, and more New York.”

Though the show was lauded by critics, it took several seasons until it became a hit in the ratings. By its sixth season, it was one of the most popular shows on television, and remained so until its final season in 1998. Seinfeld reportedly walked away from a $5 million-an-episode offer from NBC to continue the show.

Seinfeld was unsure of what to do after the series ended and felt “kinda lost,” he told Time in a 2007 interview. “I got tired of being treated like a precious little egg on a pillow. … I missed people yelling at me and treating me like a regular guy,” he said.

Eschewing the chance for a lucrative film career, he left Hollywood and returned to doing standup. In 2002, he was featured prominently in the documentary “Comedian,” which examined the lives of stand-up comedians. The film is full of the honest, personal and amusing antics of Seinfeld as he makes surprise appearances at various comedy clubs.

Seinfeld’s career had another resurgence in November 2007 with the release of “Bee Movie.” Seinfeld both co-wrote the film and provided the voice for main protagonist. Critics lamented Seinfeld’s limited emotional range, but the movie performed well at box offices.

The Rest of the Story

In 2009, 11 years after “Seinfeld” went off the air, Seinfeld, David and the cast reunited on David’s comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” staging a fake “Seinfeld” reunion show. “Seeing him back with Larry made one sense he had returned to familiar, comfortable terrain, with his old pal, just trying to be funny again,” wrote Will Leitch in New York Magazine.

Seinfeld’s latest project, the reality show “The Marriage Ref,” has been panned by critics. Many people consider his post-“Seinfeld” television and film career to be a disappointment, but Seinfeld has remained dedicated to performing stand-up, touring regularly around the country.

“Jerry is very Zen smart about show business, knowing what he can do and what he can’t,” said comedian Wayne Federman to The Daily Beast. “He’s a standup at heart. … Seinfeld works on bits, gets jokes to work. He’s a dedicated comedian. That’s his thing.”

As Henry Leutwyler wrote in Time, “After his show went off the air, he did some soul-searching, fell in love and came to the conclusion that the applause of a few hundred people is worth more than the adulation of millions.”

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