Jerry Seinfeld Calls Being Unpopular ‘The Secret of My Success’

Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t have to worry about popularity anymore. His TV show Seinfeld made him one of the most beloved comedians in the world, and he was already doing pretty well before the show. To hear him describe himself, he was never popular before he was famous. He never went to parties or hung out with other comics. However, he says, that worked for him.

Jerry Seinfeld standup
Jerry Seinfeld | David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

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Seinfeld was a guest on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast on June 8 during which he discussed the craft with Maron. He said independence and lack of popularity was what he preferred, and furthermore he turned it into his work ethic. 

Jerry Seinfeld didn’t party in high school

High school is tough for everybody, so Seinfeld was no exception. His classmates didn’t know Seinfeld was their most likely to succeed classmate, otherwise they would have treated him better. 

“That’s the secret of my success,” Seinfeld said. “I didn’t even know when I was in high school that there were parties I was not invited to. [I was] totally comfortable [with that]. I didn’t know I was missing out on anything. I knew there was something going on underneath girls’ sweaters. That was it. That’s what I was interested in.”

Besides parties, Seinfeld had no interest in popularity. Regardless of his own status, he already noticed the cliques.

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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“As far as the other social world, it didn’t appeal to me,” he said. “I didn’t like the scapegoating, the hostility, the elitism… I just knew I am not going to navigate any of this. I didn’t like it, I didn’t care for it, I was very happy to just watch TV. I just want to watch TV. I want to watch Batman.”

Jerry Seinfeld was an outsider at the comedy clubs too

Seinfeld got stage time at Catch a Rising Star in New York City. This was elite and cliquey, but Seinfeld just did his job and went home. 

“That was a closed society,” he said. “You weren’t getting in there. First of all, I wasn’t cool enough. I wasn’t druggy enough. I was never getting in with those guys.”

The clean cut life worked for Seinfeld. He got along with owner Rick Newman, also. 

Jerry Seinfeld at Catch a Rising Star | David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

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“Rick Newman was a great guy, always very nice to me,” he said. “The romance of Catch a Rising Star was something I still, when I talk to [Chris] Rock and [Colin] Quinn and [Mario] Joyner and guys who were there, George Wallace, we’re still waxing about the romance of Catch a Rising Star. There was nothing like it, so exciting.”

Catch a Rising Star was just like high school

While he was one of the titular rising stars, Seinfeld was blissfully ignorant about the sordid social activities going on off stage. He rarely looked up from his notes anyway.

“I didn’t really know about the drugs but I just knew I was not their kind of guy,” he said. “I always had notes in my hand. Total nerd and obsessed with my act. I was obsessed with my act and my stuff. They didn’t work on their acts.”