Jerry Seinfeld on ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’ Laugh Tracks, and Meditation

Jerry SeinfeldRobin Marchant/Getty

It’s a big deal when Jerry Seinfeld comes on Reddit. Apparently, Louis C.K. told him to do an AMA when they met for Seinfeld’s new show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Unlike C.K., who is something of a Reddit veteran, Seinfeld did things a little differently. He answered Reddit’s question from the Reddit offices, and at one point, he broke all the rules by asking a question himself: “Have you ever seen that grilled cheese truck around here? That food picture is great.” Despite this hilarious break with tradition, Seinfeld was an AMA natural. Here are his best answers. 

On his typically clean comedy act: 
“Well when I started out in comedy in the 70s, if you didn’t do clean humor you weren’t getting on TV, so I started doing that so I could be on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. And then when I saw what other people were doing, I just always wanted to be a little different.”

On a Seinfeld episode that almost went too far:
“…There was one episode where Jerry bought a handgun. And we started making it and stopped in the middle and said “this doesn’t work.” We did the read-through and then cancelled it. A lot of other stuff happened, but trying to make that funny ended up being no fun.”

On laugh tracks: 
“This was something we struggled with quite often on Seinfeld. Because we had real laughs on the scenes that were shot in front of an audience, but then we would shoot other scenes that were not in front of the audience (which didn’t have any laughs) and then it felt like a bit of a mismatch, so we tried to compromise and put in a subtle laugh track. I think that one of the fun things of a sitcom is feeling like you’re in an audience even though you’re home, watching it by yourself. I have to say I like some sitcoms with them and some without. Depends on the show.”

From user BAXter BEDford: Where did the idea of, in Seinfeld, your character being a comedian for a profession, but be the straight man for your friends, come from? I always thought that juxtapositioning for the show was genius.
“Very good observation and analysis on your part, Baxter. You are truly exhibiting a good comedic eye. The reason I would play straight was it was funnier for the scene. And very few people have ever remarked on this, because it was a conscious choice of mine, only because I knew it would make the show better, and I didn’t care who was funny as long as somebody was funny and that the show was funny. So you have hit upon one of the great secret weapons of the Seinfeld series, was that I had no issue with that.”

On the Seinfeld bass line: 
“The composer was Jonathan Wolff, and we were trying to come up with something that would not interfere with the standup portion in the beginning of the show. We didn’t know how iconic it was going to be.”

His favorite Seinfeld supporting character: 
“Newman would be my favorite supporting character. I mean, when I got to have a real evil nemesis like Superman would have, that was a dream come true for me. There’s no superhero that doesn’t have an evil nemesis, and I got to have one. And I love that nobody ever asks “Why didn’t you like Newman?” No one ever asks me that, and no one ever questions it. There was no reason, but it was just fun.”

On his white sneaker collection: 
“It started with wanting to be Joe Namath of the 1969 New York jets, who at that time was one of the only football players to wear white shoes. And I wanted to be like him, so I always wore white sneakers. Also, Bill Cosby on I SPY always wore white sneakers. And they were my fashion icons.”

The comedian he’d like to feature on his new show: 
Great, great question. Wow. I probably would have to say Charlie Chaplin in a Duesenberg.”

The best thing he gets to do on a daily basis: 
“That I get to do on a daily basis? Probably walk to work. I think that’s about the coolest thing that there is. Or take my bike. If you can walk to work or take your bike on a daily basis, I think that’s just about the coolest thing that there is. Every morning I listen to the traffic on the radio, and they talk about how they are jammed and I just laugh. I love traffic. I love traffic reports because I’m not in any of them.”

The Seinfeld line he quotes most often: 
“The only line I quote from the show (and I’ll be very impressed if anybody out there remembers this line) is “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” I find myself saying that to my kids a lot. It’s a very obscure line, but George was working at some company where they all had lunch together, and he wasn’t trying the apple pie, and the boss finally says “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” A lot of times kids won’t want to try certain foods, and so I’ll use that line. Sometimes I’ll quote Newman in flames screaming “Oh the humanity.””

On writer’s block: 
“Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”

On revealing that he meditates: 
“I don’t know if people were surprised, I would have to see all of their eyebrows to see if they go up. But meditation helps because it’s the ultimate way to rest when you’re working. It’s just as simple as that.”

What he does on a day off: 
“It’s usually, the kids and I will go get bagels and lox on a weekend. And then we’ll come home and eat them.”

What he would do if he wasn’t in comedy: 

Read the rest of the AMA, including some of Seinfeld’s lengthier answers, here