The ‘Seinfeld’ Episode That Larry David Would Have Quit Over
Despite first airing over 30 years ago, Seinfeld has maintained a top position in the American sitcom world. It’s beloved to this day, and with a 2021 deal established with Netflix, it’s likely Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld’s brainchild will see even more of a resurgence.
However, it turns out that it wasn’t always easy working on Seinfeld — and apparently it wasn’t always easy working with Larry David. However, the co-creator and writer had frustrations of his own. One particular episode could have led to David quitting the show entirely.
Larry David was not easy to work with
According to Jerry Seinfeld, David was very protective of his writing. When it came to meetings with NBC, David was so argumentative that he was eventually banned from Seinfeld network meetings.
In Seinfeld: How it Began, Seinfeld said of the initial pitch meeting with NBC, “Nobody had even suggested we change it yet, but he was throwing down the meaningless gauntlet.”
And apparently whenever NBC did make changes to the pilot script, David was not having. He said, “It wouldn’t have mattered who rewrote it, Woody Allen could have rewritten it, I would have hated it. … To this day I have a lot of difficulty watching that pilot.”
David was also irritated when Seinfeld was moved to a Thursday night time slot after Cheers. While it was arguably the most profitable time slot on the network, David was concerned over Seinfeld becoming “Cheers’ little brother.”
The ‘Seinfeld’ episode that Larry David would have quit over
One particular episode almost caused David to quit prematurely. The episode in question is “The Contest.” In the now-famous episode, the cast members challenge each other to see who can go the longest without engaging in sexual self-gratification.
“The series always was completely unpredictable, and Jerry and Larry never followed rules, right?” former NBC President Warren Littlefield told Vulture. “They made up their own rules. When it came time to do the table read for ‘The Contest,’ no one knew about the subject matter ahead of time. Rick Ludwin, the program executive on the show, he didn’t know what was coming.”
David told the publication, “I remember being nervous because the NBC executives were there. I really had this thing going on in my head where, well, if they don’t like it, I’m just going to quit the show. I really had this built up in my head where, there’s no way they’re going to do it and I’m just going to quit if they don’t do it.”
Michael Richards, who played Kramer, said, “Larry was going to put his whole job on the line. I’ve known Larry since we did Fridays together, and that’s Larry David. If he believes in something, he’s just going to fight for it.”
To David’s surprise, the executives loved it.
Larry David quit ‘SNL’ and pretended it never happened
While David didn’t end up leaving Seinfeld until season 7, he did quit SNL after less than a year — before returning to pretend he never quit at all.
During an interview with Vanity Fair, David revealed that he was having a terrible time working on SNL. Apparently his sketches were always being cut, and he was done. So he approached his boss and let loose.
“Right before the show was going to air, about 11:25, okay? They had cut another of my sketches,” David said. “This is about six weeks in. And Dick Ebersol had the headsets on, he was sitting in the director’s chair in the back with the monitors. And I walked up to him, and he was sitting over there, and I went, ‘This f*cking job stinks! It stinks, it’s a piece of sh*t! I’m done, I quit, f*ck you!’”
On the way home, David realized he’d just lost himself a ton of money. His neighbor, whom Kramer is based off of, told David to go back in on Monday and pretended nothing happened. That’s exactly what David did — and it worked.