Here’s the Jerry Seinfeld Impression Jerry Seinfeld Himself Approves Of
Pete Holmes certainly isn’t the first comedian to do a Jerry Seinfeld impression. Heck, Saturday Night Live essentially built a skit around it, with Jerry himself as the host of a game show where Seinfeldian comedians Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and Dana Carvey riff observational jokes about the mundane, Jerry-style. Even Jerry seems to be doing a Jerry imitation.
Holmes, though, was on a recent episode of the Inside Conan podcast where he talked about his personal contribution to the Seinfeld imitation library. The bit was called New Material Seinfeld, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect — Holmes, as Seinfeld, holding court as if Jerry was constantly spitting out new material by free-associating about whatever’s in front of him.
“Shell Gasoline. It’s not gas, it’s a shell! What’s a dinosaur? Fossil! Fossil jeans. You put on jeans. Diesel. Vin Diesel. Does he wear Diesel jeans?” is a sample riff, always ending the endless pursuit of comic material by holding up a pretend pen and legal pad and asking, “Is that anything?” Most comics appreciate that desparate-for-jokes punch line most of all.
One of Holmes’ writers came up with a joke that was “so Seinfeld,” he says. “It’s really a testament to how clear Seinfeld’s voice is. I’m not saying that to kiss his ass, but I’m kissing his ass a little bit.”
Here’s the joke, best appreciated if you imagine Seinfeld’s voice in your head: “Macaroni! They always have the clear window so you can see the macaroni in the box. Meanwhile, cereal’s over here in the dark. Why is macaroni getting a room with a view?” (Insert Seinfeld transition music here.)
Fast-forward to a swanky charity dinner hosted by Jessica Seinfeld. Judd Apatow invites Holmes to be his guest. “Jason Bateman is there, Judd is there, and they bring me the saddest mushroom I’ve ever seen in my life,” says Holmes. “Jerry Seinfeld is there, of course. This is the man who changed my life. I saw his movie (Comedian) and I moved to New York and everything changed.”
Holmes’ heart was likely thumping out of his chest when Seinfeld approached. Was there going to be a confrontation? In fact, it was the opposite. “I saw the New Material Seinfeld,” said the comedy icon, “and I loved it.”
Your idol loves your tribute? Fantastic! But this is where Holmes believes he blew the whole thing. “I couldn’t help myself,” he said. Rather than responding with words, you know, like a person would, Holmes instead made the universal hand signals for “mind blown.”
“That’s exactly like an episode of Seinfeld,” says Holmes, imagining after his inarticulate response that the show would cut to the diner, where Jerry would complain to an apoplectic George that “he did the mind blow!” But Holmes has few regrets. Not many people get to live a Seinfeld episode with Jerry himself. Or as he reasons, “It was a highlight, for sure.”