Category Archives: Autobiography
My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller
A very light, very short Kindle Single by Fred Stoller, a character actor, comedian and writer recounting his year working on the writing staff of the legendary sitcom Seinfeld. Enjoyable enough but doesn’t contain any particularly juicy revelations about its cast or the way it was produced. Stoller’s main point seems to be how tough it is to make it in Hollywood.
He is not a big time name, but my guess is that most folks would recognize Fred Stoller as he has appeared in a number of television shows (Friends, Murphy Brown, Everybody Loves Raymond), usually playing a nebishy sad sack type, and in movies (Dumb and Dumberer), yet his career was not one that has brought him great wealth. He is a working stiff like most of us, just trying to get ahead. He drives a beat up old car and lives in an apartment. After pitching an idea to Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld, he was brought on as a staff writer. Stoller had had some writing experience before working the stand up circuit, but his main desire was to act. He viewed the steady pay check he would get while on the Seinfeld staff as a way to move that goal forward.
He does shine a very narrow light on the process by which Seinfeld was made. Writers would use experiences from their own lives to come up with situations for use in the show. It was a requirement that each show contain a story line involving the four main stars, and that each one connect by the end of the episode. This was a hallmark of the Seinfeld formula.The story would be pitched to Larry David who would make a snap judgement on its worthiness and order the writer to proceed with a script if he viewed it as a potential episode. Inevitably each script would be heavily rewritten by David and Seinfeld. Basically it seemed like writers were hired so the show could use their experiences as the basis of an episode rather than for their writing skill. This is actually the plot of a later episode when Elaine’s boss J. Peterman buys Kramer’s life stories for use in his autobiography. Later Kramer uses this fact to start a lame “Peterman Reality” bus tour to cash in on the fact that he is the real Peterman. In a case of reality aping fiction, Stoller was later roped into participating in a similar enterprise concocted by Kenny Kramer, Larry David’s friend on whom the Kramer character was based.
Fred Stoller is listed as the writer on one episode of the show,”The Soup,” in which in exchange for a free Armani suit given to him by his comedic rival Kenny Bania, Jerry is obligated to take Bania to dinner. Stoller is responsible for the name of the restaurant that most Seinfeld fans will recognize from this episode, “Mendy’s.” He is also given a “story by” credit for the episode “The Face Painter” in which Kramer gets into an argument with a chimpanzee at the zoo and is later forced to apologize to the animal.
I any case, if you are a Seinfeld fan this would be worth the hour of your time it might take you to get through it. It would have limited appeal for anyone else.