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The Seinfeld Secret

January 28, 2014

In last week’s Guardian I read an interview with Jerry Seinfeld of Seinfeld fame. I was a fan of the show when it was on TV and I even went to see him live at The Palladium nearly 20 years ago. While his gags were good what really made him something to behold was his perfect delivery and timing. This master class has stuck with me since I saw him perform and having read The Guardian interview it is crystal clear as to how he managed this and to keep at the top of his game.


It will come as no surprise to learn that Jerry is a perfectionist and he will work his material to within an inch of its life. He is never satisfied with his schtick until it is absolutely perfect and can refine it night after night by the way the laughs fall and the length of them. Seinfeld claims that he can tell where he is in his act just by listening to the last laugh. When he started out as a stand-up he pushed himself into a gruelling work pattern by marking a cross on a calendar every day he wrote material. This is a work ethic and discipline that he hasn’t let slip.


As you would expect of a guy who had the most successful sitcom in the 90’s Seinfeld doesn’t need to work, so why he still has such an insatiable appetite to keep going can be difficult to understand, especially the work ethic that accompanies this. He’s just not for coasting.


At the end of the day this must come down to how he is wired, however successful he may be, his sense that life owes him nothing and that it will not provide him what he needs if he doesn’t put in the time and energy. This, I guess, is at the heart of “Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret”, the need to live life the way you want it to be, irrespective of success and all the trappings of fame and fortune.

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