‘Seinfeld’: Larry David’s Favorite Episode of the Series Was All About Masturbation But Never Said That 1 Word

Choosing a favorite episode of Seinfeld is a lot like a parent choosing a favorite child — almost impossible, and maybe a little embarrassing to admit. But series co-creator Larry David isn’t ashamed to tell the world his most treasured installment of the beloved NBC comedy.

The one David chose is a favorite for many fans and is considered one of the funniest Seinfeld episodes ever made. Perhaps the most hilarious part of all is how the entire adventure focuses on a single topic, yet Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George never say that one taboo word.

Larry David was ready to quit over his favorite episode, ‘The Contest’

Larry David
Larry David on ‘Seinfeld’ | David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

The Seinfeld episode in question is called “The Contest” from season 4. The basic premise has the gang making a bet to see who could restrain from self-pleasure for the longest after George’s mom catches him masturbating and falls out a window. It was based on a real-life bet that David and his friends made together. But he never thought it would make it past TV censors.

“This one, I didn’t even put on the board because I didn’t want them asking,” David said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I just wanted them to come and see the read-through. [When they did,] I had worked myself up into a lather because the read-through really went great. I was watching [the network executives] and I couldn’t tell how much they liked it.

He continued, expressing how deeply he believed in that episode. “But I was ready to pack the whole thing in if they didn’t let us do this show: ‘I’m quitting. I’m quitting. I’m gonna quit.'”

‘The Contest’ was funnier because it never mentioned masturbation

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A show focused on four people avoiding self-pleasure in the face of temptation is hilarious enough on its own. But part of what took that humor over the top was the writers’ wise decision never to say the word “masturbation,” which would have almost certainly gotten the episode banned as David feared.

So the Seinfeld writing team had to come up with some clever euphemisms to use instead. This ended up being way funnier than using the clinical term for masturbation and led to enduring catchphrases in the show, most notably: “master of my domain.”

Larry David sees ‘The Contest’ as a real turning point for ‘Seinfeld’

The cast of Seinfeld
The cast of ‘Seinfeld’ | David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

When Seinfeld premiered, fans didn’t know what to make of the radically new format or joke-telling style. But by 1992 when “The Contest” aired, they’d become a TV sensation and ratings darling on NBC. However, it’s this single episode that David credits with truly turning the tide for the series.

“That show changed something about how we were perceived in television land,” said David of the episode. “It really catapulted us to another place. It moved us to another level, I think. And the show got much more popular after that episode.”

David claims Jerry technically won the gang’s contest. But everyone was a winner when it came to showing how perfectly Seinfeld toed the line between vulgar and hilarious.