Nearly every Seinfeld episode from season one through seven opens with Jerry Seinfeld doing one of his stand-up bits on the stage. Some early episodes even had these bits spread throughout the episode, and sometimes as an end tag. These are jokes that you can find in Seinfeld’s comedy specials, for example, I’m Telling You For the Last Time.
For this list, we’re taking a look at Seinfeld’s ten best opening stand-ups, which means that jokes like the one about detergent for getting out bloodstains, which comes halfway into the episode, don’t qualify. With that being said, here’s our top ten list of Jerry Seinfeld’s best opening stand-ups from Seinfeld.
10 BIRTHDAYS (SEASON 4, EPISODE 17)
In the season four episode “The Outing”, Jerry does an opening bit about birthdays, or as he put it, not dying for twelve months. He points out how unnecessary and tiresome it is to celebrate the fact that someone was born every single year when, as far as he’s concerned, all they’ve done is not die for twelve months. Something to consider for your next birthday card.
And he has a point, once you reach a certain age, you truly do start feeling your excitement over birthdays steadily fading. What is the point anyway? What are we celebrating? The fact that we’re getting older and thus closer to death?
9 THE PHARMACIST (SEASON 3, EPISODE 9)
What’s the deal with pharmacist having to be two and a half feet above everyone else? That is the question Seinfeld asks in the opening stand-up bit from the season three episode “The Nose Job”. He lists all kinds of professions like brain surgeons, airline pilots, nuclear physicists, all on the same level but the pharmacist has to be two and a half feet up for some reason. “Look out everyone. I’m working with pills”, and thus must be at this altitude.
Jerry goes on to act out a scenario in which he goes to get a prescription filled and the pharmacist is looking down on him, yelling: “All right. You wait down there. Only I’m allowed up here.”
8 TINY THINGS ON PLANES (SEASON 4, EPISODE 12)
Whenever Jerry Seinfeld goes on one of his rapid-fire rants in his trademark high-pitched voice that somehow keeps getting higher as he speaks it’s impossible not to laugh. He does this in the season four episode “The Airport” where he opens with a bit about how everything on planes is very tiny.
“There’s always tiny food, tiny liquor bottles, tiny pillows, tiny bathroom, tiny sink, tiny soap. Everyone’s in a cramped seat working on a tiny computer. There’s always a small problem. There’ll be a slight delay. You’ll be a bit late. If you could be a little patient! We’re just trying to get one of those little trucks to pull us up a little closer to the Jetway so you can walk down the narrow hallway. There’ll be a man there, in a tight suit, and he’ll tell you, you have very little time to make your connecting flight. So move it!”
7 DOCTORS (SEASON 5, EPISODE 11)
Seinfeld certainly had a lot to say about doctors. In this season five episode, he talks about how doctors are one of the only professionals who have to have their diploma right up there on a wall for everyone to see, joking how it makes them seem insecure.
He goes on to talk about the bits of psychological leverage doctors apparently need to have over us all the time, like sending you to sit in a room with your pants down for fifteen minutes until they come in to give you their opinion. Seinfeld finishes off ]with this hilarious conclusion, “I mean, after that, anybody that comes in with pants on seems like they know what they’re talking about. In any difference of opinion, pants always beats no pants”.
6 THE NEED TO BE POPULAR (SEASON 4, EPISODE 7)
If you think that a stand-up bit about answering machines and voice messages is dated, you’re wrong. In the opening for this season four episode, Seinfeld talks about how we like to maintain marginal, brain-dead relationships alive through a sort of relationship respirator, like the phone machine.
The reason we do this to ourselves is that we need to see that flashing red light when we get home. Because “It’s very important for human beings to feel they are popular and well-liked amongst a large group of people that we don’t care for.” Judging by the fact that we now live our lives on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and so on, where we get notifications all the time, this phenomenon has only gotten worse with time.
5 PILOT ANNOUNCEMENTS (SEASON 7, EPISODE 17)
In this episode, Seinfeld had some words for airline companies, more specifically the pilots. He talks about how the pilot comes on with his little announcements, “I’m going over this. I’m going over that. I’m taking a left. I’m bringing it up. I’m taking it down.” All the while, we’re sitting back there thinking, “Just do whatever the hell you gotta do. I don’t know what the hell is going on.”
He then imagines a scenario in which he knocks on the cockpit door to bother the pilot for a change, “I’m having the peanuts now. Just thought you might like to know what we’re doing.” If you watch his stand-up comedy special I’m Telling You For the Last Time, he goes on to talk about safety demonstrations and other interesting observations about flying.
4 THE SILVER-MEDAL WINNER (SEASON 7, EPISODE 5)
This season seven episode starts off with Jerry giving his take on the silver-medal winner in the Olympics. We’ve all heard the old, second place winner is the first loser, but Seinfeld takes it to a whole other level with his hilarious take of what a silver-medal winner must live with for the rest of their life.
He acts out a scenario in which people keep asking how much did he lose by and the guy can’t even answer that. “I trained, I worked out, I exercised. I did everything. I was doing push-ups, sit-ups. I never did anything but exercise and work out for 20 years. I flew half-way around the world: da-da-da! And that was that. It was a photo finish.” He then demonstrates a photo finish by moving his head slightly back and forth, adding, “If I had a pimple, I would have won”. Watching Seinfeld do this bit in his high-pitched voice is hilarious.
3 OLD PEOPLE IN FLORIDA (SEASON 7, EPISODE 14)
In the show, Jerry’s parents lived in a retirement condominium complex Del Boca Vista in Florida. In episodes like “The Pen” and “The Cadillac”, we got a hilarious inside look at the lives of senior citizens in Florida, and Seinfeld has made several jokes about old people in Florida in his stand-ups, but the one about the way they drive stands out.
“Old people in Florida, they drive slow, and they sit low. The state flag of Florida should be, like, a steering wheel with a hat and two knuckles on it. And that left turn signal on from when they left the house that morning. That’s a legal turn in Florida. It’s known as an eventual left.” Then he goes on to point out how old people don’t look when they back out of the driveway, “They just feel like: ‘Well, I’m old, and I’m coming back. I survived. Let’s see if you can.’”
2 THE BEST DOCTOR (SEASON 3, EPISODE 1)
In this season three episode, Seinfeld opens with a bit about doctors, precisely how everyone’s doctor is the best. You know when someone recommends a doctor and you ask if he’s good, and, of course, they always tell you “Oh, he’s the best”. But the problem is, they can’t all be the best.
As Seinfeld hilariously puts it, “There can’t be this many bests. Someone’s graduating at the bottom of these classes. Where are these doctors? Is somewhere someone saying to their friend, ‘You should see my doctor. He’s the worst. He’s the absolute worst there is. Whatever you’ve got, it’ll be worse after you see him. He’s a butcher. The man’s a butcher.’” He also points out how ridiculous it is that your friend always tells you to let the doctor know that you know them, “Oh, you know Bob. Oh, okay, I’ll give you the real medicine. Yeah, everybody else, I’m giving Tic Tacs”.
1 SEEDLESS WATERMELON (SEASON 5, EPISODE 1)
The season five episode “The Mango” starts with a stand-up bit about seedless watermelons. Jerry talks about the scientists who have decided that producing seedless watermelon should be their life’s work.
“Other scientists have devoted their lives to fighting cancer, AIDS, heart disease. These guys go, ‘No, I’m focusing on melon. Oh, sure thousands of people are dying needlessly, but this (spits out a seed). That’s gotta stop. You ever try and pick a wet one up off the floor? It’s almost impossible. I’m devoting my life to that.’” Surely, there’s been a time in your life when you heard about scientists working on something you thought was silly and you thought to yourself, ‘Really, you’re gonna waste your time and expertise on that? You do know that you could help save human lives, right? And yet you’re sticking with this nonsense?’
NEXT: Seinfeld: Every Season Premiere, Ranked