May 14, 1998
Owing It All to Jerry
Elon Gold is an Orthodox Jewish comedian whoplayed an offbeat Jewish guy from Long Island on the recent WBsitcom, "You're the One." Though the short-lived series wascancelled, Gold has plenty of Jewish-themed TV and even movieprojects in the works. During a recent conversation with The Journal's Naomi Pfefferman, he said he owes it all to"Seinfeld."
Jerry and I both had Castle Rock shows and we shotthem on the same lot. I was flabbergasted to discover he was a fan ofmine from work I'd done on Comedy Central and the stand-up circuit.He was always asking me to do my impressions; my Jeff Goldblum washis favorite.
So before they taped the historic last episode of"Seinfeld," I had my agent call his manager and ask if there were anyspeaking parts for me. He said no, but would I consider being anextra? I was like, 'Are you kidding? It would be the thrill of alifetime.'"
I ended up being the guy in the diner who ispaying the bill at the top of one scene.
At the party on the set after the final taping,Alan Horn, one of the partners at Castle Rock, came up to me andsaid, "This could be you someday." But my thinking is, without Jerry,I wouldn't even have my career. I would absolutely not be takenseriously as a leading man and the star of my own sitcom if itweren't for Seinfeld. He paved the way. Now guys like me and AdamSandler can be more than just character actors.
Paul Reiser has helped, too, but unlike Seinfeld,he never mentions he's Jewish on "Mad About You." Maybe he's afraidto, but it bothers me that he's so obviously Jewish and it's just soglossed over.
Jerry doesn't avoid the fact that he's Jewish on"Seinfeld," and he's had Jewish themes like the bris episode. Of course, GeorgeCostanza was supposed to be Italian, but there is no way thatcharacter is Italian. He's based on Larry David, the creator ofSeinfeld, who is a Jewish comedian and writer. I think maybe hisethnicity was changed because the show initially had pressure fromthe network, saying "This series is too Jewish."
Actually, every Jewish viewer knows that all fourcharacters on that show are Jewish, even if stated otherwise. Thenon-Jews know it too, and that's why the show has been so good forthe Jews. For someone with a name like Jerry Seinfeld to be the mostimportant phenomenon in American pop culture, can't help but dotremendous things for the Jews.
Racism and anti-Semitism are overlooked whenpeople are entertaining you, when you're Seinfeld, Oprah or EddieMurphy. People for some reason are suddenly willing to accept youinto their living rooms.
And there is nothing more Jewish than "Seinfeld."The overtones, the undertones, the writing, the performing is soJewish at the surface and at the core. All four of the actors areJewish; so are 80 percent of the writers, and it's just theirsensibility of looking at the world. They analyze everything from aJewish point of view and speak in Jewish tongues. The charactersdissect the smallest of matters; it's virtually Talmudic.