book excerpt

Jerry Seinfeld Reflects on Coronavirus, Death, and Infomercials

An excerpt from his new book.

Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images
Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images
Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images

Over the course of all these years when I look at all this stuff it reminds me of my horse-racing bit.

Where the out-of-breath horse doesn’t understand why the jockey took them

all around the track, the longest possible route. He gets to the finish line and says,

“Why didn’t we just stay here? We would have been first.”

So, the horse has quite a good grasp of the logistics of the racetrack.

But incredibly, so little understanding of the horse race itself. So smart and so dumb.

And I guess that’s me.

It took a lot of effort for me to get all the way around the track to finally discover

the end point is exactly where I wanted to be at the beginning. So many other avenues have come my way over the years.

And I have taken a visit here and there to the other forms in which I could press myself into service.

As I write this, we are in the time of corona, so there is no live performing.

Stand-up is about a brief, fleeting moment of human connection.

Like surfers sitting in the water on their board, just waiting for one more ride.

One more thrilling skim across the top of the world. People often ask me where I like to work.

What kind of places, theaters, which cities?

The place I like to work is in my head. To try and reach someone else’s.

The special, special thing about stand-up is the sound that tells you for sure that you did it.

You reached them.

Of course, we can never know exactly how all of it really even happens.

We don’t need to know everything. We can feel what’s real.

And I hope we get to be together again someday soon.

In the meantime, putting all this together in a book has given us another kind of real connection.

You can feel that it’s how we’re supposed to be.

Corona Kamikaze

I feel like if I could talk to the coronavirus I would say, “Let me understand this.

I get you.

You kill me.

And then that kills you.

Where are you going with this?”

If any of these conditions was able to outmaneuver all medicines and treatments.

Kill everybody.

They would get down to the last guy and go,

“You know, I don’t think we completely thought this thing through.

We just wiped ourselves out. That was a complete dead end.” I guess it’s just a Kamikaze thing.

Which is a group of people I have always been fascinated by. Dedicated.


Completely off on their own.

It’s basically the show you’re watching right now. What about the Kamikaze pilot parents?

Died Doing

We also like to say things to make ourselves feel good like,

“Well, at least he died doing something that he loved.”

Yeah … well, okay.

But he’s not doing that anymore.

Also, not sure how “in love with it” he would still be,

after the very negative outcome.

I think he might be feeling,

“Yeah, I loved doing it when I didn’t die.

That’s when I loved it.

Because, of all the things I like to do, I think my favorite is living … !”

I’d like to die doing something that I hate.

Like cleaning a row of outdoor Port-A-Pottys.

Clutch my chest.

Drop the brush.

Keel over.

And go …

“Fantastic. At least I’m done with that …”

Flex Seal

I would say my favorite show on TV is the Flex Seal infomercial that comes on TV late at night.

If you don’t know what Flex Seal is— It’s a miracle.

For people that have leaks and do not want them.

If you have drips, drops, streams, gushing or trickling.

If you’re sitting on your roof waiting for a chopper … really bad leak.

You get Flex Seal. Just get it.

Don’t “look into it.”

We’re way past that.

They have a 30-second spot in prime time

And a half-hour infomercial they run late at night which I think is way better.

It’s just more leaks.

They go into a lot more depth with each leak.

When Flex Seal comes on my TV,

my whole family knows,

“Everybody just shut up.

This is my show.

Just let me watch it.

Look at all these leaks.

This is going to be an unbelievable episode.”

I have no idea if any of it is true.

But I need something to believe in.

And I have decided on Flex Seal.

I like Phil Swift.

He’s the TV spokesman for Flex Seal.

Phil does not seem to think we can hear him.

It’s like they said to him,

“Listen, Phil, these people you’re talking to, water is pouring into their house.

Everyone’s screaming, running around with buckets, sponges and mops.

You’ve got to project your voice.

And talk fast.

Because once the water rises over their wall outlets and shorts out the TV

that is the end of our sales opportunity.

It’s a tight window, so zip it in there.”

And he does.

He’s got a great smile, good energy.

He’s got a nice little weight problem going for himself, which is good.

Makes him real.

You believe him.

He looks like a guy that’s had a lot of leaks in his life.

A lot of coming home opening his front door

and half of everything he owns just floats by.

Bowling shoes, hot dog buns, MyPillow.

I don’t know why but I am 100% sure that Phil Swift has MyPillow.

And no, I do not think it is relevant that it’s $19.99 for a can of Flex Seal,

to fix a hole in a bucket.

And I know I can get a new bucket for $3.99.

It’s not about the bucket.

The point of Flex Seal is just using Flex Seal.

And that’s the only problem with Flex Seal.

Because if you do not have a leak, you cannot use it.

Which is the situation I am in,

and where our story takes a heartbreaking turn.

And they don’t talk about this in the commercial.

Nobody cares about someone like me,

because they don’t know the frustration that you feel

when you have the solution, but you do not have the problem.

I’ve never had one of my kids come up to me and say,

“Dad, you fixed the leak.

You saved the house.

You’re the best.”

I’ve never heard that.

And that’s not a hole in a pipe.

That’s a hole in your life, and even Flex Seal can’t patch that up.

And so, I sit there at night

Alone in the dark, the blue TV light just flickering on my face.

Watching the leaks get fixed.

Dreaming my Flex Seal fantasies.

That I somehow, perhaps by mistake,

bought a boat that has a screen door built into the bottom.

Or I bought two halves of a boat that are not joined together.

From a divorce settlement or something.

Who’s making boats like this?

How did the salesman get me to overlook these gigantic boat issues?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I know what I’m going to do about it.

And the next scene is me and Phil Swift just zipping through the Everglades.

(Holding outboard tiller.)

Me in my screen-door-bottom boat.

Phil is in his two halves of a boat glued back together.

And we are laughing our fat asses off.

“Hey, Phil!”

“Hey, Jerry!” That’s my dream.

And it’s not a wet dream, thanks to Flex Seal.

Jerry Seinfeld Reflects on Coronavirus, Death, Infomercials