Jerry Seinfeld Used to Swear In His Standup Comedy: The Brilliant Reason He Stopped

Jerry Seinfeld does not work blue. His standup comedy translated pretty seamlessly to Seinfeld because it was already suitable for broadcast. Before he was famous, Seinfeld admits he did use profanity in his act. He explained why he took it out.

Jerry Seinfeld on The Tonight Show
Jerry Seinfeld | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Seinfeld was a guest on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast on June 8. Maron and Seinfeld discussed all things comedy, and it was even news to Maron that Seinfeld used to swear.

Jerry Seinfeld felt guilty for swearing in standup comedy

It’s not that he was a prude. He said the F word when he told the story to Maron. He just didn’t want an easy laugh. 

“Even then it bothered me because I felt like oh, I just got a laugh because I said f*ck in there,” Seinfeld told Maron. “That’s the only reason they laughed at that. It’s just you didn’t find the gold.”

Seinfeld standup
Jerry Seinfeld | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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Seinfeld held himself to PG-rated language, because if he could get the laugh without profanity, then he knew it was really funny.

“Then it became a style that I liked because it was so much more difficult,” Seinfeld said.

Jerry Seinfeld always had this style

Seinfeld evolved his language quickly to drop the profanity, but parts of his famous style were always present. Seinfeld is noted for his observational humor. In fact, when adapted into a TV show, it became a show about nothing! Seinfeld sticks to that today. 

Jerry Seinfeld on stage
Jerry Seinfield | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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“When I start talking about cereal, I’m going to talk about everything with cereal,” Seinfeld said. “I’m going to talk about the proof of purchase seal. I’m still talking about it. I think the horse has been the steadiest thing in my comedy diet for some reason. The horses constantly pop up in my act. I love the comedy of the horse.”

‘The Tonight Show’ made him a headliner nationwide

Seinfeld started going to comedy clubs in the 1970s, both as a fan and working his own material. He is proud that he became the headliner who would open new comedy clubs in various cities. 

“The mid ’80s, I rode the comedy boom,” Seinfeld said. “I was the comedy boom. I was the act that opened the club, whether Cleveland or [somewhere else].”

Seinfeld credits his late night talk show appearances with giving him the notoriety to play any city. Earlier, he’d told Maron he developed his writing style specifically to formulate strong sets for The Tonight Show so they’d always invite him back.

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld | Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

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“I had The Tonight Show and Letterman,” Seinfeld said. “I think I was the only guy doing both shows regularly.”

Seinfeld had a solid hour he could do in any of those clubs, but the hour could be a little different every day. He kept adding and subtracting from it. 

“I had an hour,” Seinfeld said. “The act never stops. It’s a combine. It’s a threshing machine. You’re just consuming grain and leaving bales of hay behind you.”