Inside the Genuinely Horrifying Halloween Children’s Book by Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld isn’t commonly associated with Halloween, hauntings or horror, but after reading his spooky season-themed children’s book Halloween, I’ll be seeing his Little Nicky meets The Polar Express cartoon face in my nightmares.
In the entertainment industry, successful stand-up comedians are asked to wear many strange hats — TV writer, game show presenter, completely unnecessary travel show host — but one of the most hilarious paychecks a previously profane comic can secure has always been in children’s entertainment. Bob Saget had Full House. Gilbert Gottfried had a voice acting arc in Aladdin and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Andrew Dice Clay had his nursery rhymes. But what happens when a comic whose material is already squeaky clean decides to start mining a younger demographic?
Well, in Jerry Seinfeld’s case, all he had to do was license out a bit from one of his stand-up specials to be developed into a picture book for pre-K comedy fans. That’s how we arrive at Halloween, Seinfeld’s most cursed, upsetting and sacrilegious project to date — and that’s including Bee Movie.
In 2002, Seinfeld wrote an illustrated adaptation of a bit from his 1998 HBO special I'm Telling You for the Last Time to be purchased by parents who felt that their sweet, young son or daughter was growing up with far too little trauma to be a stand-up when they’re older.
To Seinfeld’s credit, the actual story of Halloween isn’t the problem — it’s a light-hearted (if not entirely milquetoast) observational tale about candy and Superman, perfectly appropriate topics for children. My issue with Halloween revolves around the publisher’s apparent decision to hire a caricature artist to create the most upsetting, dead-eyed, eggplant-headed depiction of a young Jerry Seinfeld possible.
Putting Satanic Seinfeld’s eyes, nose and mouth all in the exact middle 5 percent of his enlarged, serving-plate face gives the impression that whichever depraved puppet maker brought him to life began by taking the face off of a real boy and before stretching it over an over-inflated rugby ball, a fact that I choose to believe was alluded to in the sequence where young Jerry rips off his cheap Superman mask.
Nevertheless, Halloween could have been a completely passable picture book for young pedants, and I won’t knock Seinfeld for coming up with the novel idea while he was taking his girlfriend trick-or-treating.