Monday, September 25, 2023

The Real Kramer Delights ‘Seinfeld’ Fanatics at Live Appearance


An audience of “Seinfeld” fans—many would qualify as “Seinfeld” fanatics—filled the 270 seats of the Boca Black Box Thursday night for a sold-out presentation by Kenny Kramer. It was a little surreal to see a man applauded for who he wasn’t: As Larry David’s inspiration for the character of Cosmo Kramer, Kenny never appeared on “Seinfeld,” nor participated as a writer (though he is a former standup comedian). He’s a celebrity once removed who has milked his association for a lucrative career as a “Seinfeld” expert-cum-monologist-cum-publicist. As he admitted to the Black Box attendees last night with a smile, “If I don’t cash in on this, I’m an idiot.”

Kramer is best known for his still-operating “Seinfeld” bus tour of New York City, where, for $37.50, visitors can listen to Kramer’s narrated journey through “Seinfeld” lore, and enjoy three hours’ worth of stops at iconic locations from the series. His live show, “Kramer on Seinfeld,” is a truncated stage version of the same, beginning his 90-minute program with an interactive trivia contest and ending with a tour of his virtual gift shop, where fans can purchase “Seinfeld” bumper stickers and an “ASSMAN” front license plate.

Kramer proved to be a studious “Seinfeld” historian and a gregarious storyteller, even if he sometimes spoke too quickly to be fully comprehended. Clad in a white button-down shirt and New York Yankees cap, he projected the air of a laid-back, extemporaneous conversationalist, performing without the aids of a microphone stand or stool. He reiterated the point made abundantly clear in the contentious “Seinfeld” finale: that the four characters audiences had grown to love over nine seasons were not very nice people: In Kramer’s words, they were “despicable, egocentric, self-centered and irresponsible.” That we continued to follow and relate to them was part of the show’s subversive genius.

Mostly, Kramer discussed his longtime relationship with Larry David, famously kick-started when they lived across the hall from each other in an enviable apartment complex in Hell’s Kitchen. Kramer still has fun poking at David’s neuroses, especially during the latter’s 1980s wilderness as a prickly, obstinate standup comedian. Recalling these early days, Kramer referred to his friend as “Bozo the Clown on acid.”

Many of the classic “Seinfeld” ideas emerged from Kramer and David’s friendship, and much of Kramer’s presentation explained the fascinating way that real-life interactions mutated into sitcom gold. For instance, Kramer really did intend to redesign his house in layers, with an entertainment pit in the middle. But in other ways, David was the more eccentric friend: It was he, not the real Kramer, who would take food from his buddy’s fridge and create a fastidious tally of every item borrowed and its cost, not the other way around. It was David who decided he would become a “minimalist” and bequeath his 32-inch television to Kramer, only to visit Kramer’s apartment every night to watch sports on his former TV.

Kramer integrated a few video clips into his performance, including interviews with David discussing his friendship with Kramer, and a cute “Seinfeld” clip that references Kenny Kramer’s bus tour. The rarest clip, one that even YouTube has not exhumed, consists of Larry David’s lone television standup appearance, on Richard Belzer’s short-lived Lifetime talk show, circa 1984. The material consists of a courtroom comedy in which David’s teenage self is put on trial by his mom for masturbating, with David playing five or six parts. It’s dated and draggy, and plagued by poor sound quality, but occasional brilliance emerges.

Kramer plays that clip on his bus tour too, which he says always prompts David—ever the insecure, needy comedian—to ask him if the audience laughed. He may be multimillionaire, but some things never change.

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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