The best joke from David Letterman‘s final Top Ten list had to be Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ perfect slam on her former co-worker, Jerry Seinfeld. It wasn’t one of the two Top Ten jokes written by a 22-year-old intern, but it was just about perfect nonetheless.
Now, we have the explanation from Seinfeld himself on how the joke was born and given its extraordinary life. First, the gag.
And then what made the joke truly great: Seinfeld’s reaction to the slam.
Here’s how it all came together, via Seinfeld at this weekend’s Vulture Festival:
“I like all jokes. There’s really nothing else I care about except jokes, I don’t care who has them, whose feelings have to be hurt — if it’s a good joke I’m into it. And we actually fought hard for that particular joke; the writers had a different joke that Julia and I did not like and she came to me and she said, ‘I don’t know if this joke works,’ and I read the joke and I go, ‘No, that’s a bad joke.’ She had flown from L.A. to New York just to do the one line — we were really excited to be on that show. It was a really cool experience to be on Dave’s last show and I didn’t want her to go out there and tank. I’ve been at this awhile; you don’t always know 100 percent, but in this case I knew this is a loser, and so we went to the writers and it was quite a long negotiation and then they came up with this other line, which was sensational. I wonder actually now, I was thinking, Did they have that, or did they write that? Maybe they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. That’s what it may have been: that they had that joke and they didn’t want to hurt my feelings and then, of course, they don’t know I don’t have feelings.”
Personally, I never understood the hate for Seinfeld’s series finale. I thought it was funny and well-done and I enjoyed seeing all the past characters come back to slam the four main characters.
At least Seinfeld can laugh about it 17 years later, even if he has to take a great burn from his former co-star.