How did Jerry Seinfeld start?

New York, NY
"Seinfeld" by Greve

A sitcom about nothing? In earnest?

The news in January 2020 was not spectacular and did not make waves, because who wants to hear about a new virus right now? An Australian team of researchers found a virus they called "boring," one that affects mosquitoes rather than humans. His name: Yada Yada.

by André Lavoie

You heard that right, "Yada Yada". If you think this is a Latin phrase or an encoded message, then you are clearly not with the cult of the sitcom His field familiar, which was a huge hit and made the box office ring at the American television station NBC from 1989 to 1998. In Seinfeld jargon, "Yada Yada" stands for blah blah. Die-hard fans of the series can tell you when the phrase was first used: by the complex-ridden George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander) in a 1997 episode. Since then, the universe has been split into two groups: those who know what it works, and the others ...

His field is named like other sitcoms after the main character and inventor Jerry Seinfeld. The incorrigible New Yorker, born in 1954, was best known for appearing on the small stages of comedy clubs in the 1980s, when he was gradually introduced to star presenters on late-night talk shows, including Johnny Carson and David Letterman. And what humorous fuel did Seinfeld use to fuel the fire? With everyday whims, the vicissitudes of married life and the stupidity of people, which turn every day into a chain of little nightmares.
 
Based on this extensive material and with the support of comedian, screenwriter and actor Larry David - the epitome of misanthropy, as it shamelessly in the series Leave it, Larry! proved - Jerry Seinfeld literally created a sitcom after his model. And not only because each episode begins and ends with a stand-up number in front of an enthusiastic audience, but also because the series focuses on four cheerful neurotics who don't worry the slightest about whether they are amiable.

His best friend, the misanthropic George, rallied around the local celebrity Seinfeld; his ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes (played by Julia-Louis Dreyfus), a sarcastic lawyer in the typical Upper Westside look (by no means a compliment); and Cosmo Kramer (played by Michael Richards), the eccentric, attention-grabbing neighbor whose hairstyle looks like he's been shocked. The 180 episodes, which were watched by almost 30 million television viewers at the time, dismantled the daily lives of these insignificant New Yorkers down to the smallest detail, from dining out to laundry and from anonymous office towers to their apartments, which were furnished in the style of the 1990s (just like their clothes that bring tears to our eyes today).

The catchphrase "nothing"

It doesn't matter if you have a His field-From the very beginning who is a staunch advocate or an occasional admirer, one thing comes along His field often up front and annoying, at least for those who don't share the passion for the series. This sitcom is just about ... nothing. It's so much about nothing that His field in season four, offers NBC a sitcom that is about ... nothing.
 
That may sound absurd, downright foolhardy. But looking at unsympathetic characters who express their contemptuous attitudes with hilarious abandon is the lot of a great many other sitcoms. Made at the same time Friends (1994-2004) Furore, a sitcom about a group of talkative, mindless and equally neurotic young heroines and heroes who had never started a revolution except on their couch. And when you see their New York apartments, you still wonder what their secret of success was, that they could even pay for them ...

Jerry Seinfeld isn't exactly known for acrid humor. And so he remains someone who praises the everyday, an attentive observer of our manners and customs, even the most despicable ones. He has maintained this attitude to this day when he is on stage - and that is where he still feels most comfortable. This also explains that he stayed away from the big screen and is only discreetly present on television. Nobody worries about their pension; he received a fee of 1 million US dollars per episode, not counting the fee for the sitcom concept and production.

With its nine seasons in the decade marked by US President Bill Clinton, when we still believed in the end of the world and the triumph of globalization, said His field a lot about our carelessness, our egocentrism and our complete lack of empathy for the unhappiness of others. It's easy to say that this is a typical New York attitude. The unstoppable success of this sitcom, to which Netflix acquired the rights in 2021, shows how millions of people still identify with Jerry, George, Elaine and Cosmo. And that is by no means “nothing”.
 
A sitcom about nothing.

About the author

André Lavoie has been a film critic since 1998 Le Devoir, writes for various magazines and radio broadcasts (Aujourd'hui l'histoire) and is a contract researcher at Ici Radio-Canada Télé (Vox Pop). After completing his master's degree in film studies at the Université de Montréal in 1992, he worked for several years as a moderator of introductory workshops on the seventh art. Since 2001 he has devoted himself mainly to his work as a journalist, critic and lecturer.