Work

by Tom Swift

Ever since he began working comedy clubs, in 1975, [Jerry] Seinfeld has considered himself a stand-up above all else, and the other roles he has taken on — sitcom icon, husband, father of three — can come into conflict with the calling. ‘We did a lot of moving, and we had a lot of fun,’ he explained, ‘but I get thrown off easily. If I have one weekend off from stand-up, and I do something weird, I completely forget who I am and what I do for a living.’

*   *   *

When he can’t tinker, he grows anxious. ‘If I don’t do a set in two weeks, I feel it,’ he said. ‘I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already?’ The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.’

-Jonah Weiner, “Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up,” New York Times, 12-20-2012