Jerry Seinfeld, On His Own Terms

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Jerry Seinfeld. Photo by Jason Sheldon.
Jerry Seinfeld. Photo by Jason Sheldon.
In Alec Baldwin’s conversation with Jerry Seinfeld on Here’s the Thing, Jerry spells it all out in a way that makes it all look so simple. After listening to this, it seems like he pretty much has a black belt in how to be happy. The easy reaction to this is to say, “Well, Jerry has millions of dollars. How could he be unhappy?” But that would be a little too convenient. If you listen carefully, it’s not really about the money.

After the staggering success of “Seinfeld” and its nine-year run – not to mention its continued shelf life – Jerry was offered tons of projects from spin-offs to other series. The projects all entailed the show business model that required the dreaded “committee” of non-creatives who can turn the pleasure of fulfilling, creative work into a political, hierarchical nightmare. As a comic, creator, writer, producer and actor, he has “sat in all the chairs” in the business and professes that he cannot be fooled into thinking that it’s fulfilling, no matter how much money they offer him. He turned all the offers down and opted for a life as a stand-up comedian.

As a stand-up comedian, he doesn’t need anyone’s approval or cooperation to do the work. It’s a life and work mode that is all up to him and the private relationship he has with the audience. As for the money and its contribution to a fulfilling work and personal life, he makes an interesting parallel between the show business process and a desire to live on the water…

“You want to be on the water? How do you want to be on the water? You want to be on a yacht or you want to be on a surfboard? I want to be on a surfboard. I don’t want to deal with a yacht. That (the TV offers) is a yacht. Some people want a yacht so they can say ‘See my yacht’… It’s too much time and energy spent on stuff that is not ‘the juice,’ the really GREAT stuff. As a stand-up comedian, I can control that.”

He’s also been an avid practitioner and advocate of transcendental meditation since 1972. The end result is a guy who loves the work he does and loves the life he lives. I think he’s onto something.

Have a listen to an incredibly worthwhile conversation.


1 Comment

  1. At least he can afford to turn down “Seinfeld the Movie,” “the animated series,” “Seinfeld 2: Seinfelt up…”

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