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The never-before-told story of how Jerry Seinfeld made his dream come true — of how this very ambitious, extremely driven, compulsively perfectionistic carefully worked his way up through the knock-down-drag-out world of stand-up comedy as it began to explode in the mid-1970s, & how he went on to co-create in the late 80s what is considered to be the most successful TV sitcom in its history. From the start, Jerry has been extremely private about all aspects of his personal life. For more than a year, ...
The never-before-told story of how Jerry Seinfeld made his dream come true — of how this very ambitious, extremely driven, compulsively perfectionistic carefully worked his way up through the knock-down-drag-out world of stand-up comedy as it began to explode in the mid-1970s, & how he went on to co-create in the late 80s what is considered to be the most successful TV sitcom in its history. From the start, Jerry has been extremely private about all aspects of his personal life. For more than a year, Oppenheimer conducted in-depth interviews with scores of Jerry s closes friends, family members, bus. assoc., lovers, & fellow comedians who spoke candidly, painting a riveting portrait of the beloved & talented comedian.
|2||Tojo, Television, and Holy Water||6|
|3||And Betty Makes Two||10|
|4||Near the Mall||14|
|5||Moving On Up||22|
|7||Becoming a Man||35|
|8||High School Loner||42|
|9||Romeo and Juliet||51|
|10||To Israel, with Love||56|
|11||Sex, Drugs, and Suzukis||64|
|12||Campus Odd Couple||72|
|13||I Just Want to Be Funny||81|
|14||Queens College Days||87|
|17||I Want to Do Stand-up||110|
|18||Peanuts on the Bar||116|
|19||The Dianetics Kid||123|
|23||Faster Than a Speeding Bullet||156|
|24||Welcome to L.A.||169|
|25||The Benson Fiasco||177|
|26||Jerry Does Johnny||184|
|27||Comedy Club Bonanza||192|
|28||Love and Death||199|
|29||Sex, Money, and Accolades||206|
|31||Birth of Seinfeld||232|
|33||Fame Is Free||246|
|34||Love in All the Wrong Places||259|
|36||Ups and Downs in TV Land||280|
|38||The End of Life as We Know It||301|
|39||The Marrying Kind||315|
|41||And Baby Makes Three||347|
|Notes and Sources||363|
One of the areas of Jerry Seinfeld's life that intrigued me most during my almost two years of researching and writing Seinfeld: The Making of an American Icon was his business acumen, his prescient ability to say no to offers that other comics would have jumped at, head first, without thinking.
When, for example, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson first offered him a shot, Jerry initially turned down the spectacular offer. It wasn't because he lacked confidence in his talent but rather because he had seen a fellow comic seemingly go down in flames on the show -- because, in Jerry's thinking, he wasn't thoroughly prepared. Jerry didn't want that to happen to him. So he patiently waited to appear on Carson's show until he had a dynamite five minutes of material, and more powerful routines to follow. And when he did appear for the first time on Tonight in 1981, Jerry's career was launched like a rocket to the moon.
Along with his sense of humor, Jerry had inherited his talent for entrepreneurship from his salesman father, Kal Seinfeld, who went from peddling fake holy water to successfully hawking business signs. Jerry credits his father, who died in 1985, for all of the good things that happened to him through his spectacular career, and he even used the character of Kal Seinfeld in his TV show.
I also found it fascinating that Jerry had a remarkable sense of timing, not only in his stand-up act and his "must-see-TV" sitcom, but also in real life. All his career steps, as I track them in the book, were carefully timed, perfectly planned. He decided to get into stand-up just as the comedy club business was starting to boom -- many of the clubs replacing discos, an entertainment form whose day had passed. He also put together a strong, tightly knit team of managers, agents, and publicists.
At that time, he told his booking agent that he wanted to work 50 weeks a year, 52 if he had to, to become a road warrior, to become the best stand-up ever, a household name. And through incredibly hard work and with his immense talent, he succeeded far beyond anyone's imagination.
Once again his timing was right-on when he accepted NBC's offer to do the show that became Seinfeld, because at that point, the comedy club boom was running out of gas. Jerry's is a true Horatio Alger story -- a kid who came from modest means on Long Island to become a comedic and creative genius. Like his childhood comic book hero, Superman, Jerry Seinfeld seems invincible.