The Shady Side Of Jerry Seinfeld

As one of the few mainstream comedians who's achieved monumental success without resorting to obscenities or sex talk, you might not expect Jerry Seinfeld to be a master shade thrower — surely he's just too nice for that! But the star of TV's greatest show about nothing has certainly had his moments over the years.

Indeed, Seinfeld has publicly taken aim at everything from animated kids movies and chart-topping pop divas to New York comedy club owners and talk show royalty since rising to fame on the 1980s stand-up circuit — and there's one particular fellow comic that you can't mention within earshot of him unless you want to see the proud New Yorker get very angry indeed.

Seinfeld can put even the "RuPaul's Drag Race" lot to shame, as he's done some shady things; whether it's questionable choices in his dating life or taking credit where credit wasn't due, here's a look at 14 examples that might make may you see the "Seinfeld" star in a whole new light. 

Jerry Seinfeld claimed The Lego Movie stole his material

Jerry Seinfeld appeared to fancy himself as a bit of a Roger Ebert in 2014 when he took to Twitter to offer a review of that year's premier animated movie based on a children's building block. But the funnyman seemed more interested in questioning its source material than giving a thumbs up or thumbs down.

In fact, Seinfeld seemed to accuse "The Lego Movie" of stealing one of his jokes. "I think 'Lego Movie' stole my Superman has issues with Green Lantern bit from Amex Seinfeld and Superman webisode, anyone else catch that?" Seinfeld tweeted before adding, "I'm glad they did. It was a fun bit ... #legomymaterial." 

Soon after, another comedian waded into the conversation to give his own unique brand of reassurance. Indeed, Ricky Gervais replied, "I know how you feel. 'Schindler's List' stole a lot of my early stuff. You were so edgy then." Seinfeld did later claim that he enjoyed "The Lego Movie," but in another expert bit of shade-throwing, the star also couldn't help himself from adding, "A story would have been a nice added touch, though."

Jerry Seinfeld refused to hug Kesha

It seems unlikely that you'd hear Jerry Seinfeld ever blasting out a bit of "Tik Tok" or "We R Who We R" while driving around getting coffee with comedians. In fact, the star publicly snubbed Kesha several times before claiming that he had no idea who she is.

The drama happened in 2017 while the pair were at the Kennedy Center (attending separately, of course) for the National Night of Laughter and Song. While Seinfeld was being interviewed by 94.7 Fresh FM DJ Tommy McFly, superfan Kesha gatecrashed to ask for a hug. "No thanks" came the reply, and the chart-topper was equally unsuccessful on her further two attempts.

After Kesha finally got the hint, Seinfeld added further insult to injury by telling McFly, "I don't know who that was." The funnyman subsequently received backlash from the pop star's fans but remained unrepentant in a chat with Extra, explaining, "I don't hug a total stranger. I have to meet someone, say hello, I gotta start somewhere ... I'm 63, I don't know every pop star, I don't know everyone."

Jerry Seinfeld snapped back against race criticism

Buzzfeed found out the hard way in 2014 that you ask Jerry Seinfeld about the thorny issue of race at your peril. During a piece for "CBS This Morning," a reporter for the website questioned why the majority of his "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" guests had been white men. And to say the funnyman was not amused is an understatement.

An aggrieved Seinfeld fired back, "It really pisses me off. People think [comedy] is the census or something, it's gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares? It's just funny. Funny is the world that I live in. You're funny, I'm interested. You're not funny, I'm not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that ... To me, it's anti-comedy ... PC nonsense."

The sitcom legend's refusal to discuss the matter didn't go down well with the press. Further, this wasn't the first time that Seinfeld had been criticized for his apparent lack of racial awareness. In 1998, the Los Angeles Times marked the end of his eponymous comedy with a piece about how the Black community had little interest in its finale: "Observers said that the lack of 'Seinfeld' fever among Blacks is mainly attributable to the almost total absence of minority characters on the New York-based sitcom."

Jerry Seinfeld tried to take credit for Friends' success

There was only one other sitcom in the 1990s that could rival "Friends" as the decade's biggest — and according to its leading man, "Seinfeld" played a significant part in the Central Park gang's monumental success.

In a chat with The Daily Beast, Lisa Kudrow recalled meeting Jerry Seinfeld at a Hollywood party: "I said, 'Hi,' and he said, 'You're welcome.' I said, 'Why, thank you ... what?'" The actor, who famously played quirky guitarist Phoebe Buffay in "Friends," explained that the funnyman was referring to the fact that reruns of the first season of "Friends" were being scheduled after ratings juggernaut "Seinfeld" that summer.

Indeed, the early adventures of Ross, Rachel, and co. had gained strong if unspectacular ratings when it was initially following "Mad About You." But when the show was re-aired after the sixth season of "Seinfeld" on the schedule, the show's popularity suddenly exploded, something which Kudrow is more than happy to acknowledge: "Not to take anything away from the writing on 'Friends,' or the cast, or how good 'Friends' really was, but the first season our ratings were just fine."

Jerry Seinfeld put pressure on Kristin Davis

"Sex and the City" favorite Kristin Davis may have gone on to forge one of the sitcom world's most iconic quartets, but back in 1997, the prospect of being beamed into 38 million people's homes was understandably a daunting one for the young actor. And her co-star at the time didn't exactly put her mind at ease.

Davis first appeared on "Seinfeld" in the episode "The Pothole," playing the show's eponymous star's girlfriend Jenna. Davis previously had to go through six different auditions just to get the small role, and so was understandably nervous when it came to the night of filming in front of a live studio audience. In an interview with TODAY, she recalled how Jerry Seinfeld only made things worse: "Right before action, Jerry leans over and he whispers, '38 million.' And I'm like, 'What?' And he says, '38 million people watching.' 'What are you doing to me?' I was like, 'I can't function like this.'"

"He just felt that was so funny," Davis added. "And so every time he had a chance he'd be like, '38 million.' And I'm like, 'Oh my God. Oh my God. I'm so nervous.' So that's how Jerry found his fun. Scaring the guest stars to death." Davis can't have been too scarred by the experience, though, as several months later she accepted a one-off return to the sitcom in the episode "The Butter Shave," sharing, "I was just so excited to get to go back and be on the set. I was like, 'Yes.'"

Jerry Seinfeld slammed the YouTube community

Jerry Seinfeld may have enjoyed one of his biggest recent successes through a show that began on the web, but the "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" star still doesn't have much time for those who find fame solely via the online world.

While appearing at an Upfront event for the streaming service Crackle in 2015, Seinfeld was asked about his views on video-sharing platforms, and it's safe to say he didn't mince his words. The funnyman said (as reported by The Hollywood Reporter), "The less [there is] the better. I don't want to see this crap. We have a giant garbage can called YouTube for user-generated content. We're trying to generate a little higher level."

Seinfeld went on to argue that show business should only be for those who have a discernible talent and said that he still considers himself to be on the top of its pyramid. He also shared that he believes that his own web series is far superior to anything else out there: "[People don't] expect quality programming [online], and we feel like we're ahead of a lot of places. You can be in the same world as cat videos and still deliver a great demo for the advertiser."

Jerry Seinfeld began seeing his wife when she was married to someone else

Jerry Seinfeld and Jessica Sklar appear to have one of the more stable marriages in Hollywood, but their beginnings were very much on the tabloid-friendly end of the spectrum. In fact, the latter had only just walked down the aisle with someone else when she began falling for the funnyman.

The pair first met in 1998 at Manhattan's Reebok Sports Club where Sklar was working out. Seinfeld was instantly smitten and asked her out, apparently unaware that she'd only just gotten back from her honeymoon with Eric Nederlander. Sklar initially rebuffed his advances — "I told him I didn't think this was the right time for me to be involved with anybody," she later wrote in a New York Times piece — but the pair continued to stay in touch and, eventually, she came clean about her married life.

Within two months, Sklar filed for divorce, describing her and Nederlander's marriage as "irreparably broken." And soon after, she began dating Seinfeld in public. Understandably, Nederlander was furious at the images he saw of them kissing on one particular outing. He told the New York Post, "I was manipulated, misled, and completely caught off guard by Jessica's infidelity. Jerry and Jessica have no respect for decent values. They deserve each other."

A 38-year-old Jerry Seinfeld started dating a 17-year-old

As well as romancing a newly-married woman, Jerry Seinfeld's questionable relationship history also involves him dating a 17-year-old when he was fast approaching the age of 40. Yes, in 1993, the funnyman began dating Shoshanna Lonstein, a teenager 21 years his junior, after they met at a bench in Central Park.

Seinfeld insists that their relationship didn't turn sexual until a year later, around the same time he was grilled by shock jock Howard Stern on his eponymous show. "So, you sit in Central Park and have a candy bar on a string and pull it when the girls come?" asked the host (via Suggest). The comedian argued that Lonstein wasn't as young as everyone thought, adding, "She's not 17, definitely not."

Seinfeld was similarly defensive when the subject was brought up in a chat with People: "I am not an idiot. Shoshanna is a person, not an age. She is extremely bright. She's funny, sharp, very alert. We just get along. You can hear the click." He later told Playboy (per CheatSheet), "When I like someone, I don't care about her race, creed or national origin. If I like her, I don't care. I don't discriminate. If she's 18, if she's intelligent, that's fine." Seinfeld went on to reveal that the pair nearly married but the fact that Lonstein wanted to carve out her own career appeared to drive a wedge between them. 

Jerry Seinfeld took aim at club owner

In the early stages of the pandemic, podcaster, hedge fund manager, and Stand Up N.Y. comedy club owner James Altucher took to LinkedIn to proclaim that the Big Apple as a city was now dead. It's fair to say that one of New York's most famous comedic figures didn't agree with the sentiment.

Indeed, in a piece published in The New York Times, Jerry Seinfeld blasted Altucher for abandoning his home city in favor of Florida: "This stupid virus will give up eventually. The same way you have. We're going to keep going with New York City if that's all right with you. And it will sure as hell be back. Because of all the real, tough New Yorkers who, unlike you, loved it and understood it, stayed and rebuilt it."

Seinfeld also appeared to take umbrage with Altucher's assertion that any New York business could be run remotely, arguing that "energy, attitude and personality" were not qualities that could be transferred through optic lines. And to make things just a little more personal, the "Bee Movie" star also took aim at Altucher's comedy venue: "It could use a little sprucing up, if you don't mind my saying. I wouldn't worry about it. You can do it from Miami."

Jerry Seinfeld called out long-time enemy Bobcat Goldthwait

Jerry Seinfeld inadvertently started an online guessing game in 2019 when he called out a fellow (undisclosed) comedian on an episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." The funnyman was interviewing Bridget Everett at the time, and when she brought up a friend, Seinfeld instantly revealed his dislike of him.

"I don't like him," the comedian said about the man whose name had been bleeped, while Everett looked like she'd wished the ground would swallow her up. "At all. At all. In fact, I have a particular feeling about him. I had kind of forgotten about him. And then there was a little article about him in the paper, and even in that, there was a veiled reference to his dislike of what I did. He used to rail against me cause they weren't as wild and dangerous as he was. Cause he sucked."

Internet sleuths subsequently did their thing and concluded that the man who'd incurred Seinfeld's wrath was Bobcat Goldthwait. Apparently, their beef stems from way back in 1994 when Goldthwait appeared on "The Arsenio Hall Show" – the subversive comic described Seinfeld as "a spooky, weird Scientologist guy banging teenage girls."

Jerry Seinfeld called Lady Gaga a jerk

Jerry Seinfeld proved that he certainly wasn't one of Lady Gaga's Little Monsters in 2010 when he called her out for her behavior at a baseball match. The singer had grabbed headlines for stripping down to her bikini top and bottoms and flipping photographers the bird during a game between the New York Mets and San Diego Padres at Citi Field — and the funnyman was less than impressed by this display.

While speaking to WFAN radio about the incident soon after, Seinfeld said (as shared by the New York Post), "This woman is a jerk. I hate her. I can't believe they put her in my box, which I paid for." The comic was referring to the fact that Gaga was moved from her front-row seat to a corporate box owned by Mets fan Seinfeld after she complained about the nearby press. He added, "You give people the finger and you get upgraded? Is that the world we're living in now?"

The sitcom legend did acknowledge that the "Poker Face" singer was talented, but still couldn't understand why she needed to resort to such tactics: "I don't know what these young people think or how they promote their careers ... I'm not one of these all-publicity-is-good people. People talk about you need exposure — you could die of exposure."

Jerry Seinfeld blamed Timmy Trumpet for Mets' poor form

Hell hath no fury like a New York Mets fan scorned. Luckily for the baseball team, in this particular instance, Jerry Seinfeld didn't take his anger out on the players on the field but on the Australian musician who'd performed their entrance music.

Indeed, after the Mets suffered a loss of form that surrendered their once-impressive lead in the National League East in 2022, Seinfeld took to Twitter to blame Timmy Trumpet, the man who'd only recently delivered a live rendition of Edwin Diaz's walkout anthem: "I blame that stupid Trumpet performance," he tweeted (as shared by Sports Illustrated), adding, "Celebrating in season. We haven't won anything yet. Bad mojo."

The disgruntled comic then served up an even greater insult. He compared Trumpet to one of the early 2000s' most annoyingly infectious Barbadian trio. "Same as when Baja Men showed up to play "Who Let Dogs Out" in 2000 WS," Seinfeld said, referring to the year in which the Mets lost to their rivals the New York Yankees. "Series ended right there."

Jerry Seinfeld seemed to take credit for any show on wheels

Jerry Seinfeld sure likes taking credit for shows he hasn't officially contributed anything to. As well as claiming that he was responsible for the success of the first season of "Friends," the comedian also believes that he invented the concept of driving and talking.

In the trailer for the 2019 season of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," Seinfeld reeled off a list of shows he argued were blatantly inspired by the web series. He said (via CNN), "We are proud that others have taken notice of our style and have been inspired by it. The only comment we would like to make is, 'If you're gonna knock us off, get it right.'" Now, while he might have a point with the likes of "Comedians Watching Football" and "Friends and Clergy in Cars Getting Coffee," another show he names undoubtedly got there first.

Indeed, "Carpool Karaoke" originated in a Comic Relief sketch featuring James Corden and George Michael that first aired in 2011. Seinfeld's creation debuted on Crackle a year later, meaning "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" isn't quite the pioneer its leading man thinks.

Jerry Seinfeld tried to cut down Larry King

Jerry Seinfeld's fragile ego appeared to take a bit of a hit in 2007 when he appeared on "Larry King Live." The drama began when the host simply asked for clarification about his sitcom "Seinfeld's" ending: "You gave it up, right? They didn't cancel you? You canceled them?"

Seinfeld looked appalled at King's line of questioning and immediately fired back, "You're not aware of this? You think I got canceled? Are you under the impression that I got canceled? I thought that was pretty well documented." The funnyman was so blatantly defensive about the whole thing that King was forced to ask whether he'd upset him.

"Is this still CNN?" Seinfeld continued, essentially questioning the credibility of the news network. And when King pondered, "Don't most shows go down a little?" he was hit with the retort, "Most people do also." Seinfeld then pulled out the big "Do you know who I am" card, and when the host advised his guest to take things less seriously, the comic replied, "There's a big difference between being canceled and being number." Though at the time Seinfeld seemed incredibly offended, following King's death in 2021, Seinfeld insisted on Twitter that his interview 14 years earlier had only been a case of fooling around.