Three Seinfeld speeches — this week's ABC radio segment
With so much news gloom around, we looked for a lighter hearted topic for the Sammy J Breakfast seg this week. With a Seinfeld 'extra bit' rumoured, here are speeches from creators and cast.
Jerry Seinfeld set entertainment reporter types scuttling this week with an offhand remark from a stage in Boston:
“Well, I have a little secret for you about the ending, but I can’t really tell it because it’s a secret … Here’s what I can tell you, but you can’t tell anybody: Something is going to happen that has to do with that ending. It hasn’t happened yet.”
My segment about speeches on Sammy J’s ABC Melbourne Breakfast show is in its third year, and we’ve covered many topics, but we hadn’t done speeches by Seinfeld cast members and creators. So we did.
This is such a funny speech, and as I said on air, you suspect Larry David would only deliver a tribute like this to someone in his upper upper pantheon of comedy greats. And the fact he delivers the ultimate compliment with a sledgehammer of an ‘insult’, I laughed out loud.
Lavishing praise on people does not come easy to me.
In fact I find it quite distasteful.
Let’s just say it's not my cup of tea.
Usually I have to wait for somebody to die to do it, and even then I have to give it a couple of years.
But not so tonight. When I first heard The 2000 Year Old Man, I was laughing so hard my father came into the room and turned off the record player. ‘What the hell is going on in here, Larry?’
See, my parents didn’t mind me chuckling at a comedy album, or a TV show. A little chuckle was fine.
But this was something else entirely.
This was disturbing.
So out of the ordinary. I never knew a person could be that funny.
And from the very first moment I heard that album, from that moment on, I said to myself, I can never, ever, be a comedian.
What is the point?
So Mel Brooks didn’t get me into comedy. He kept me away from it.
I wasted years doing nothing because of him.
No job, living at home, lying on the couch watching ‘Shindig’.
My parents were beside themselves. They cried themselves to sleep every night.
He killed them.
He killed my parents that little Jew bastard.
Working with Mel on my show was one of the great thrills of my life. And that season was inspired by what was possibly the greatest comedic premise that anyone has ever dreamed up. The Producers.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 'The really ridiculous thing is that I am just as good at drama', Mark Twain Award - 2018
I said in the segment that this might be straight out the greatest comedy speech of all time. It’s certainly my favourite comedy acceptance speech, narrowly edging out Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s close friend Tina Fey when she won the Mark Twain Award.
It’s set in three parts.
A magical opener (those first eleven words!) with hilarious notes of ‘faux selfishness’ that remind us of why she was such a perfect Elaine. You got to listen to this bit, not just read it:
When Mark Twain first emailed me about the Mark Twain prize, I have to admit I totally misunderstood. I assumed that I was being asked to honour somebody else who was receiving the Mark Twain prize and I thought, oh my God what a hassle. I mean seriously, who would put me through this to have to go all the way to Washington D.C. which no offence, is a nightmare and make up flattering things to say about how funny someone else is. No fucking way.
And then I reread the email and I realised oh, it's me. They're giving it to me. I get the prize and my attitude about the whole thing changed. It really did. I don't know, honestly. I really don't know what I was thinking, this is a great night and a great honour and in beautiful Washington D.C. no less. Anybody would be lucky to be a part of a night like this honouring somebody like me, right?
The second section of the speech is the pure genius. Louis-Dreyfus drops the nugget that she auditioned for the part of Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice on the same day she got the part of Elaine. She then embarks on a few thank yous, but again in the persona of her most famous character, she can’t move on from the fact that she didn’t get the part: (again you MUST listen to this)
So, where was I? Oh, yes, yes, yes. Keegan oh, my god Keegan-Micheal Key thank you so much for being here on my special night …
Look Sir Peter Hall might have made a mistake, okay. My audition was Portia's speech about mercy. You all probably know the scene. I mean obviously I am not gonna perform it right now because that would be a pretty weird tangent to hear Shakespeare intelligently and energetically performed in a middle of a comedy tribute to me, so.
Camille thank you for being here. It is so inspiring that you were able to co-opt your wife's harrowing medical ordeal for an Oscar nomination. Bryan Cranston you are a truly incomparable talent and a pleasure to work with. When I think of us on Seinfeld …
Look I'm just gonna do it. You want to hear it, right? I can do Shakespeare, okay.
The quality of mercy is not strained, it dropeth as a gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed, it blessed of him that gives and him that takes.
This is just incredible stuff. Imagine making your run at a list of thanks yous as inventive and beautiful as this. And the performance of the Portia lines … the crowd just loses its mind.
And the last part of the speech is about cancer. Amazingly, it’s still funny, but Louis-Dreyfus injects love and humanity in equal parts:
Last year I was lucky enough to get an Emmy Award for my performance on Veep which was an incredible thrill and it set some kind of a record for the most Emmys by somebody for doing something or other and then about twelve hours later I was diagnosed with cancer, another hilarious turn of events. I'm only half kidding, of course cancer isn't at all funny, but a big part of dealing with it has been finding the funny moment. The old cliché about laughter being the best medicine turns out to be true which is good because that's what the current administration is trying to replace Obamacare with.
When I was getting my hideous chemotherapy I'd cram a bunch of family and friends into this tiny treatment room with me and we really did have some great laughs. Of course I was heavily medicated and slipping in and out of consciousness so I was probably a pretty easy audience. But my point is, is that laughter is a basic human need along with love and food and an HBO subscription. There's no situation, none that isn't improved with a couple of laughs. Everybody needs laughs so the fact that I've had the opportunity to make people laugh for a living is one of the many blessings that I have received in my life. Okay.
Anyway, it’s in the pantheon of great comedy speeches, amongst the great speeches of all time, any genre. Indeed, I look forward to Julia coming on the podcast to promote the Seinfeld return, if they need the publicity, maybe the week after I finally get Obama. 😊
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