Jerry Seinfeld Immediately Backtracks on Legit Criticism of Thin-Skinned Howard Stern

Seinfeld’s newsflash: Professional comics are funnier than Stern
Jerry Seinfeld Immediately Backtracks on Legit Criticism of Thin-Skinned Howard Stern

Somehow, the Unfrosted media tour continues to destroy everything and everyone in its wake. Jerry Seinfeld was a guest on Wednesday’s Fly on the Wall podcast with Dana Carvey and David Spade, selling Pop-Tarts and firing some unexpected shots at old frenemy Howard Stern

The conversation was about comedy podcasts, a format that Seinfeld says isn’t exactly new. “Howard Stern invented this, right?” So far, so good — props to the guy who was a pioneer in long-form, comedic conversation.

But the game has passed Stern by, Seinfeld (correctly!) argued. “We're better than him now,” the comic argued. “Howard is a great interviewer. But comedy chops, I mean, can we speak candidly? Let’s face it, he’s been outflanked.” Seinfeld used Spade and Carvey as an example, professional comics who are reliably hilarious. “This show is a comedy podcast.”

“Jesus Christ,” Seinfeld sighed, “make us laugh!”

Oops. Within hours of the podcast dropping, Seinfeld was issuing a public apology. “I really feel bad for what I said about my friend Howard Stern in a conversation with David Spade and Dana Carvey, talking about the glut of comedy podcasts,” Seinfeld said in a statement. “I meant to say he must feel surrounded, but I said ‘outflanked,’ which sounded terrible and insulting. And of course, none of these little shows are any threat to his giant show. Anyway, it was bad and I’m sorry, Howie. I still love you. Please forgive me.”

So much to unpack here. Here are four takeaways from the notoriously unapologetic Seinfeld’s apology…

Stern Is Notoriously Thin-Skinned

“Sometimes, I’m sensitive,” Stern wrote in his latest book, Howard Stern Comes Again. You think? Few in show business have been more susceptible to criticism than Stern, who in his early years used perceived insults as fuel to take him to the top of the radio ratings charts.

In the past 10 years or so, Stern has become hypersensitive to people who believe Stern is racist, sexist or homophobic based on undeniably racist, sexist and homophobic radio bits he’s performed over decades. He’s tried to scrub the internet of those old clips, hoping people will accept his new persona as Sensitive Celebrity Interviewer.

Seinfeld knows better than most about Stern’s prickly demeanor (see their history below), and issued an apology in record time to slap a Band-Aid on Stern’s presumably bruised feelings. Was it enough? Stay tuned.

Seinfeld Apologized for Saying ‘Outflanked,’ But Not for Saying Stern Wasn’t That Funny

Seinfeld meant “surrounded” versus “outflanked”? Both statements are true. Stern is surrounded by comedians competing for ears, including Spade and Carvey, Joe Rogan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Marc Maron, Bert Kreischer, Conan O’Brien, the Smartless guys, Bill Burr and on and on and on. What comedian doesn’t have a podcast?

But if “outflanked” means “outdone,” “outshined” or “outwitted,” Seinfeld was right on that count as well. Professional comedians are reliably funnier than Stern, who relied on shock or handwritten notes from Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling for most of his laughs. Seinfeld said the quiet part out loud, and he wasn’t wrong. 

Podcasts Are Absolutely a Threat to Stern’s ‘Giant Show’

And Stern knows it. In years past, Stern railed against podcasters as guys sitting in their basements with no audience. You don’t hear those diatribes these days as SiriusXM tries to stem the steady flow of fleeing subscribers by, you guessed it, stepping up its podcast game.

Seinfeld and Stern Have a Stormy History

In the 1990s, Stern made a meal out of ridiculing Seinfeld’s relationship with 17-year-old Shoshanna Lonstein. 

After Seinfeld no-showed on the radio show, Stern and Gilbert Gottfried punked him with answering-machine messages from Jerry Seinfeld Jr. 

Seinfeld and Stern kissed and made up around the time that Stern appeared on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, cementing their status as Hamptons Buddies 4 Life. Or are they? I mean, can we speak candidly? Let’s face it, the friendship seems on thin ice after Fly on the Wall. Time will tell if Seinfeld’s hasty apology staved off a reignited feud and a classic on-air Stern berating.


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