Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld

The most successful and influential comedian of his generation, Jerry Seinfeld's brilliant observational riffs on the minutiae of everyday life formed the basis of the television classic Seinfeld, the quintessential sitcom of the 1990s and one of the most beloved series in the history of the medium. Born April 29, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York and raised in nearby Massapequa, he began his comedy career the very night he graduated from Queens College; struggling throughout his early years, Seinfeld often performed for free in order to hone his skills, working by day in a variety of odd jobs which included selling light bulbs over the phone and hawking fake jewelry on the streets. His breakthrough arrived when he was tapped to serve as master of ceremonies at the famed New York City club the Comic Strip, and soon he was also regularly performing on the west coast.

In 1980, Seinfeld was cast in the sitcom Benson, but was fired after just a few episodes; he returned to stand-up with a vengeance, and a year later made his first appearance on The Tonight Show, winning over host Johnny Carson. Countless appearances on other chat shows like Late Night with David Letterman followed, and as his notoriety as a performer increased throughout the decade in 1987 he signed to star in his first TV comedy special, the HBO production Jerry Seinfeld's Stand-up Confidential. In 1990, NBC executives approached the comedian about starring in his own sitcom; teaming with fellow stand-up Larry David, Seinfeld conceived a show about "nothing" -- in other words, the small wrinkles of everyday life, from Superman to breakfast cereal, which for years had provided the fodder for his stage routine. NBC, far from convinced, agreed to produce only a miniscule four episodes.

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