Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld, PBS Pioneers of TelevisionJerry Seinfeld is best known for his groundbreaking eponymous sitcom Seinfeld, which he co-created and co-wrote with fellow comedian Larry David in 1989. Before Seinfeld, however. Jerry was a typical kid growing up in suburban New York. He first tried his hand at comedy while studying at Queens College, bit spots in theatrical productions eventually giving way to open mics at NYC’s Catch a Rising Start comedy club. In May of 1981, Jerry appeared on Johnny Carons’s Tonight Show, a life-changing gig that thrust him into the spotlight and launched his prolific career. The young comic recognized that those few minutes on Carson’s stage marked a significant turning point, despite some beginner’s jitters.

“To get asked to be on that show was like, ‘Do you want to play in the World Series?’”, he remarked about the experience. “It went well… I had never been in front of 500 hundred people before and that was the biggest audience I had ever seen at that time. I was nervous for a million reasons, but that was very overwhelming to me.”

Shortly thereafter, he received a call from NBC, asking him to drum up some ideas for a sitcom. Though Jerry admittedly hadn’t given the idea too much thought, his friend Larry David was ready to write. The two put their heads together and came up with a genius concept: a show about, well, nothing.

Jerry and Larry penned the show that would become TV legend, a half hour sitcom based on the mundane daily events of a group of 30-something friends living in Manhattan. Lead by Jerry, a strikingly familiar neurotic comedian, each character in the ensemble cast added their own bit of unique color to the script. More than any other sitcom of its time, Seinfeld’s one-liners, catchphrases and bizarre scenarios became embedded in American culture. The funny kid from the suburbs had made his mark.

Life after Seinfeld

In 2002, TV Guide called Seinfeld the greatest television program of all time. Yet, after the blockbuster series wrapped in 1998, Jerry Seinfeld publicly declared never to make another sitcom.

“We killed ourselves to make those shows as good as they were. We weren’t just hanging around,” he explained. “People always say, ‘Why don’t you do another sitcom?’ I think, “’f I could do another sitcom that good, yeah, sure I’d do it.’ You can’t. I can’t.”

It took 8 years before Jerry graced the screen again, writing, producing and voicing the lead character of 2007’s Bee Movie. Besides subsequent appearances on stage and screen, Seinfeld has most recently been dabbling in webisodes, producing and starring in a series of short documentary videos entitled Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The shorts follow real life Seinfeld as he takes his fellow comics out for coffee, assigning each outing a unique, classic car from his collection.