Jerry Seinfeld: obsessed with surfing since its early stand-up comedy years | Photo: Creative Commons

For reasons I cannot explain, I only became aware of Jerry Seinfeld's work in my mid-40s. I guess it's just what it meant to be.

I grew up watching and laughing at British comedy TV shows and getting used to the dryness and fine irony of Monthy Python and their disciples.

As a Generation X guy born in 1977 and growing up in Europe, America inspired and entertained me in other ways, but humor was not on top of the list.

I remember watching a few seconds of "Seinfeld" on national television, here and there, but I never quite got hooked enough to follow it.

Interestingly, it coincided with my early surfing years.

Like many young people of my generation, I learned to ride a wave by myself around 1991. My first surfboard - the only one I regrettably sold - was a Mike Davis.

While I was living the best days of my life with my heavy 6'2, Jerry Seinfeld was rising to stardom from NBC to the world.

Time goes by at the speed of light.

Suddenly, it's the Netflix era, and I'm a middle-aged man interested in keeping up with award-winning movies and past TV series that I never had time to watch.

"Seinfeld" popped up in the algorithm cauldron.

"Why not?" I thought to myself. "I never quite got why everyone says this guy is so funny, but let's give it a try."

After a couple of episodes, I was already a fan.

You can immediately tell an intelligent, talented person - comedian, actor, actress, performing artist, etc - after a few minutes.

So, as I binge-watched the series, I remember imagining myself as a spectator in those underground stand-up comedy clubs of the 1970s, surrounded by smoke, trying to relax after a hard day of work and laughing at Jerry's early career bits.

What really impressed me about his material is that he doesn't need to rely on the classic comedy clichés - sex, swearing, disabilities, etc - to be funny.

He does precisely the opposite. He picks the simplest, most mundane moments of our daily lives and transforms them into a joke or pun.

And that's the hardest thing in comedy, I think.

At some point, I didn't want "Seinfeld" to end. I was saving episodes and cherishing them one by one until the end.

Once I finally got to know Jerry Seinfeld, I immediately started digging for more shows and never-seen-before material.

Soon, I had become a relatively advanced connoisseur of the New Yorker's work. I've read interviews, watched specials, and even found shows on which he was a guest.

Seinfeld: probably the most popular comedy TV series of all time

Seinfeld, The Surfer

At some point in my exploration of Jerry Seinfeld's vast career, I noticed recurring references to something very dear to me: surfing.

But how could a global New York comedian star be so healthily obsessed with the magical act of riding waves, especially when he didn't seem to have a surfing past?

It was not a loose reference or mention here and there - it was a pattern, and it was everywhere.

The truth is that Seinfeld has been talking about his admiration of surfers and surfing for a long time.

Here's one of his best descriptions of what surfing is:

"The ocean doesn't really want us in it. Surfing is actually the act of the ocean throwing us out."

"The ocean is like a nightclub, and the waves are bouncers throwing us out, and the undertow is like the mean bouncer that takes you the back and roughs you up a little bit."

The Seinfeld-surfing connection is worth exploring.

In the late 2000s, the comedian even agreed to shoot a very unusual and kitsch commercial for Greater Building Society, now Greater Bank, where he rides a virtual wave alongside a customer surfer.

Seinfeld revealed he once tried surfing for about a week in the early 2000s.

In 2020, he told Stephen Colbert that he believed he lacked what it took to become a surfer.

"You need a certain kind of knees, you know, you need good quads."

Petition: Let's Get Jerry in a Wave Pool

Well, Jerry, you sure don't have any physical limitation preventing you from quickly standing up on a surfboard, riding a wave, and experiencing the fascinating sensation of walking on water.

I am sure your first time in the water was not in ideal conditions. Have you ever tried a wave pool with a seasoned instructor?

I am sure Kelly Slater would be honored to welcome you at the Surf Ranch, and Raimana Van Bastolaer would quickly get you to surf a wave.

This whole thing reached a point where you really need to do it, sir.

Jerry Seinfeld's analogies between stand-up comedy and surfing are endless.

In 2020, when Stephen Colbert asked Jerry Seinfeld, "So, Jerry, do you still enjoy doing stand-up?"

"Well, I do. I really do," noted the comedian.

"I think I'm one of those surfers, you know, those old guys that just still paddle out every day, and nobody even knows they're doing it, but it's like they have to do it."

"It's just part of the day and part of the deal. That's why I do it. I really live off it. It's a beautiful, natural, energetic thing that's so natural and real."

"I can be accused of using too many surfing analogies, but that's the thing I wanted to do in my life that I didn't do. I really wanted to do it, and I never did it."

Then, at the end of the year, the "Seinfeld" star returned with more surprising metaphors.

"So, a TV series is like a pretty big boat that you can run with a couple of people. A movie is a yacht. There's so many people, it's a beautiful thing, there's a lot of money involved. Everybody wants it. Everybody thinks it's the ultimate way to go across the water."

"Stand-up for me is a surfboard. It's just you - you paddle out, and you try and catch the energy, and you're all on your own."

"You can do it and go home, and nobody but you really even knows what happened."

Is This Anything?: the book that features Jerry Seinfeld's best work across five decades in comedy

"Surfing Would Be My Dream Life"

In 2024, in two separate interviews with People and GQ, the 70-year-old continued to elaborate on his attraction to the act of gliding across waves.

"The thing I would like to do more than anything is get up on a surfboard and ride a wave. That would be the dream of my life," Seinfeld told People.

"I think if I could have spent my entire life just living broke and being a surf bum and every day paddle out and spend a few hours a day surfing, that's as good a life as any life you could have."

"I follow every surfer on Instagram. Every day, I stare at them like a cat looking at a bird through the window."

For GQ, he revealed there's only one thing he is addicted to other than stand-up comedy.

"The only other thing in life that I truly idolize is surfing," underlined Jerry.

"I watch a lot of Instagram surfing videos, and when somebody catches a great wave, and they're just sliding down it, it just hypnotizes me."

"That's how it feels when you're having a good set - like you've caught this gigantic energy and are just sliding down it."

"There's nothing pure in making a movie. There's no flow. It's highly complex and messy."

"I think if I get a chance to be human again, I would do just that. You wake up in the morning, and you paddle out."

"You make whatever little money you need to survive. That seems like the greatest life to me."

Can someone get Seinfeld a surfboard and some nice, gentle, small-rolling waves? And can you please, Jerry, accept the fact that you can easily do it and embrace the challenge?

The world wants to see you become a surfer, Jerome - just do it.


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

Top Stories

I'm now making a surfing video game called "Surfers Code," but I probably shouldn't be.

Vahine Fierro won the 2024 Tahiti Pro in huge six-to-ten-foot conditions at Teahupoo.

Zimbabwe might be a landlocked country, but there's actually a very good wave for surfing here.

He's one of the legends of surfing history who passed away too soon. Sion Milosky was 35 when he rode his final wave.