Seinfeldia – a book about nothing
If you’re a fan of the greatest show ever to air on television, you should definitely check out Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Armstrong. Granted you might know a fair bit of the information already on these pages, if you’ve watched the Seinfeld DVDs with commentary going, or watched the extras also on the discs. If you’ve read previous books on Larry David, Jerry or the show itself you’re going to be rehashing a lot of stuff as well. Obviously if you haven’t done those things the book is going to be more informative, but even if you have, there’s still new information you’re likely to discover. For example I had no idea The Sponge was actually a real product. I thought it was a joke method of birth control the writers had come up with. But no, apparently the real product leaked and was taken off the shelves to be fixed, which is where the idea for Elaine stocking up came from. This book is written a lot from the various writers of the show’s experiences. I knew they had gone through a fair few writers but I never realised it was pretty much an unwritten policy to get rid of the ones from last season and replace them with new ones who could retell and embellish events from their own lives to happen to one of the four main characters. Seinfeldia isn’t written so much through interviews with the cast (definitely not the main stars), but with the writers. This is evident by the photos included in two photo section pages (the type you find in the middle of books on paper that fall out after a bit of turning the pages use), consisting of obviously on set staff’s personal photos standing beside Jerry, or usually a less screen time minor role actor where someone else takes the photo (if they were taken today they’d be selfies). The other photos are ones the author has taken herself at events such as the Cyclones Seinfeld themed baseball day.
The book is actually about Seinfeldia, it’s not just entirely about the show itself. Seinfeldia is the world which exists due to those who watched it never letting it die, phrases we still use today, characters that we keep fresh in conversation, and the fact we’ll flock to see someone who played a minor character if they are at an event and things like this. If you were after a book divulging gossip on the actors while they filmed the show or have an actor say something bad about a co-star, this isn’t the book for you. There’s definitely a lot more information on minor one or just a couple of episode actors than the main stars, likely because they were happy to talk to the author, or the author of whatever source material this book author read. The actors who played The Soup Nazi, Rochelle Rochelle for example, along with real life people characters such J Peterman and Kramer were based on you’ll learn everything about. Obviously it would have been great to learn everything about the main actors but they likely never needed money after the show aired and therefore didn’t need to give every detail of their life to interviewers. The interview list at the back of the book takes up about a page in total (first page starts half way down the page and the second ends before the same point on the back of the page), and there’s really no one whose name you’ll recognise before reading this book in that list. Whereas there’s an impressive 269 source notes of various written and video publications. So the book is well researched and put together, but that just shows you there’s not going to be a great deal of new information if you’re a fan who has read and seen a lot of Seinfeld interview stuff. But as I said, what’s in here does flow well and is an easy read, and most people won’t have read/viewed most of the 269 source materials. There are some odd omissions though, such as I would have thought Stanley Spadowski, the janitor from “Weird Al’s movie UHF would have been a major influence on Michael Richards either getting cast as or how he/Larry/Jerry decided to make Kramer be like on the screen, but the movie character is not even mentioned at all.
There are probably some things that won’t interest you much such as a guy who didn’t like some other guys starting a blog of what Seinfeld characters would get up to if the show still existed today so started a parody site of that website. But overall I found the book quite interesting for new information every now and then as well as a pleasant reminder of reading stuff I already knew while fondly remembering the episodes being talked about at the time. I liked how unlike a lot of other publications, this book doesn’t present Larry David as being a total loser preSeinfeld days. It acknowledges that the show wasn’t seen by the general public as being quite as great leading up to announcing it was coming to an end, as it was during most of the seasons. I’ve read other stuff that just states the show announced it was wrapping up when it was yet to peak, which if you were alive back then you know wasn’t quite true. It does tackle topics such as Michael Richards stand up gig where he didn’t handle hecklers too well.
The book was obviously published before Jerry’s world stand up tour was announced for 2016/17 as it doesn’t mention it. I for one look very forward to seeing him at The Brisbane Entertainment Center. Testimant to how popular Jerry still is, is that everywhere except for Brisbane had sold out at 9:05am (QLD time). Brisbane’s were only left as other than pre sale tickets, you couldn’t get them until 10am as we don’t have daylight savings.
This book also doesn’t mention merchandise like Funko Vinyl Idolz: Seinfeld figures (which I have photographed enjoying this book), which has been great to finally see Seinfeld merchandise finally hitting the stores after all these decades. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the memories of watching Seinfeld that Seinfeldia brought back as I turned the pages. I also learnt a few new things along the way. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you’ve got check this book out!
City of Gold Coast Libraries have hardback, as well as digital copies available on Overdrive and 3M. If you’re purchasing the book you’ll also find it as a Kindlebook. We of course also have every season of the greatest show ever made on DVD for you to borrow as well, as you’ll no doubt want to relive those, once you’ve read this!
From the Seinfeld episode The Summer of George (ep822) –
“George: Severance package…The Yankees are giving me three months full pay for doing nothing.
Jerry: They did it for three years. What’s another few months.
George: I’m really going to do something with these three months.
Jerry: Like what?
George: I’m gonna read a book. From beginning to end. In that order.
Jerry: I’ve always wanted to do that…”