Ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Seinfeld.
Thank you, thank you.
Thank you very much, thank you. Okay, now when we first started making my TV series
in '89, we made the first episode— it was basically me, George, and Kramer.
George was kind of a Larry David character, Larry had a funny neighbor
named Kramer so we threw him in. We used as little imagination as possible.
All Larry and I really wanted to do was have two guys talk in an idiotic way
about completely stupid things, which is not nothing. We did not want it to be
about nothing, we wanted it to be about being stupid. Okay, so we make the first
episode, and I don't think anybody liked it that much.
They eventually said, "okay, you can make a few more but you need a real female
character. All you've got is three stupid guys." Now, in the TV network world of
those days when the network executives say, "we have an idea to make your show
better," it is always, without fail, without exception, the worst idea you have ever
heard, which is not their fault. It's not their job to have funny ideas. It would
be like if a geologist sent me out into the desert to find the mineral bauxite.
I could never find it. I don't know what bauxite is—I'm not a geologist. Even if I
found it I would not know that I had found it.
I can't tell one rock from another. This is why most TV sitcoms are not funny—
bauxite: if you're not a geologist, don't go looking for it. Anyway, when the
network tells you what they think you should do, it is called a "network note."
"The network has a note" is what they say, and in this case we thought, "okay, that's
not a bad idea. We should have a real woman character in the show. We've got
three stupid guys, let's add a smart woman, that's funny. My point is, this
person you see over here, Julia, how you doing sweetie, you okay?
It's only a couple more hours.
This person, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who agreed to do this part with three stupid
guys and used it to launch one of the most brilliant and spectacular show
business careers of all time, this person is a "network note."
That's what you're looking at.
That is a humble beginning, which is also not nothing.
Okay, so then we fleshed the idea out a little more, we decided, okay, let's make
it a girl that Jerry used to date, it didn't work out, but was so much fun to
hang out with, they decided to continue the relationship as friends. A completely
absurd idea, could never happen in real life...it's a TV sitcom, it's good enough.
Okay, so, now as lame-o as all this is, I was still required as an actor to play
this situation—that she and I were a couple, we broke up, there was this other
aspect to our relationship that enabled it to survive but without the romantic
element, you know, there's some layers and complexity to that and, candidly speaking,
way, way beyond any acting ability that I possess.
So, how did I do it? Because obviously I did it. People bought it; they
believed it. They believed the relationship
and I think it's fair to say the show went on to do very nicely.
Here is how I did it: I just really, really like Julia.
I could not get enough of her.
Nine years...I was not acting. I couldn't! I thought she was funny,
charming, beautiful, intelligent, every single second I ever spent with her, on
stage and off, bingo, no acting required, just read the lines in the script,
180 episodes, syndication, DVD, streaming, piece of cake.
Now, after the show was over and I started seeing her on other shows having
relationships with other TV characters, I can't say that was the easiest thing for
me to handle. I suffered quite a bit of fake pain from
this fake relationship. But, I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I knew
that these are the things that were required of her to do if she was ever
going to receive the Mark Twain Prize, so I accepted it and I couldn't be happier
for her that tonight she is here accepting this great honor.
Congratulations, Jules, love you.