‘Seinfeld’ Co-Creator Larry David Was Afraid to Pitch Jerry Seinfeld This Classic Episode
Seinfeld didn’t seem afraid of any sacred cows. They had an episode where Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) made out with his girlfriend during Schindler’s List. Jerry wrestled a loaf of bread out of an elderly woman’s hands. George (Jason Alexander) trampled children to escape a fire and complained about shrinkage. Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) would only have sex with men she deemed spongeworthy. Co-creator Larry David said there was only one episode of the classic sitcom he was worried Seinfeld wouldn’t approve.
David, Alexander and Louis-Dreyfus participated in a Seinfeld reunion on Oct. 23 to raise funds for the Texas Democratic Party. We’ll have more from the Seinfeld reunion here on Showbiz Cheat Sheet, but here’s why one episode made David hold off on pitching his co-creator.
If only Larry David had known that Jerry Seinfeld would be master of his domain
The fan-favorite and critically acclaimed episode “The Contest” features Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer (Michael Richards) compete to see who can go the longest without masturbating. David waited several seasons before pitching Seinfeld.
“Even ‘The Contest,’ I didn’t even tell Jerry until three or four years in because I thought oh, there’s no way he’s ever going to want to do this,” David said. “I had it in my notebook and then one day I just said, ‘What about this idea?’ He went, ‘Yeah.’ Whoa, okay, I had it for two years already.”
Jerry Seinfeld is responsible for this memorable part of ‘The Contest’
One of the clever ways Seinfeld got “The Contest” on network television was they never used any sexual innuendo. Those who held out were simply “master of their domain.”
“I’m going to give Jerry full credit because I mentioned something,” David said. “I had some euphemism in the first draft. I don’t know what it was. There’s 10,000 of them. He said, ‘Let’s not even say it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s good. Let’s not.’ That was his thing.”
‘The Contest’ took advantage of the prior episode
“The Contest” eventually aired in season 4, following the episode “The Virgin.” Jane Leeves reprised her role as Jerry’s love interest.
“It was very fortuitous that the previous episode was about Jerry dating a virgin,” David said. “So that really came in handy for this story of dating a virgin because of the sexual frustration that he would have. It just blended in perfectly.”
‘The Contest’ took ‘Seinfeld’ to the next level
It was after “The Contest” that Seinfeld became NBC’s trademark “must see TV.” David noticed something change after it aired.
“That show actually changed something about how we were perceived in television land,” David said. “It really sort of catapulted us to another place. It moved us to another level I think. The show got much more popular, I think, after that episode.”
Alexander said he understood why “The Contest” made such an indelible mark.
“That’s sort of where the watercooler show idea came from,” Alexander said. “Literally the next day, it was all over the news or the entertainment news because you had tackled a subject that just really seemed untouchable and did it so deftly that people were talking about it.”