Seinfeld

A small role more than 20 years ago that we're still talking about today. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

Welcome Seinfeld fans! Here are the two links you’re looking for.

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To sign up for Friday’s Understandably Live video interview with Annie Korzen (who had a recurring role on Seinfeld as Doris Klompus, Jerry’s parents’ neighbor), go here.

Understandably Live (Friday 7/9 1pm ET)


Recurring roles

More than a few years ago, an actress named Annie Korzen got a call from her agent, asking her to audition for a small part in an episode of a then-new sitcom called Seinfeld.

The character was named Doris Klompus; she was a neighbor of Jerry Seinfeld’s parents at a condo complex in Florida. Another actress had turned the role down and Korzen jumped at the opportunity, largely because she needed the work.

At the time, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Seinfeld had yet to find its stride, and there was no promise that it would be anything more than a one-off gig on a short-lived show.

But here we are, more than 23 years after Seinfeld went off the air (yes, we’re all old), and despite the fact that Korzen has played a lot of other roles before and since then, this is the one she gets asked about.

It’s also the one that she wrote about recently for one of the publications of AARP. Over the span of the show, Korzen appeared in four episodes, but she still gets recognized and asked about it fairly regularly.

If you’re really into Seinfeld—and a lot of people are, even now, a quarter-century later (or as I like to put it, just to freak myself out: one-tenth of the entire history of the United States)—you might recognize the episodes:

  • “The Pen,” which was ranked the 6th-best Seinfeld episode by Vulture;

  • “The Cadillac,” ranked number 65 out of 169;

  • “Raincoats,” ranked 26;

  • “The Airport,” in which Korzen played an entirely different character—an airplane passenger sitting next to Elaine. (Ranked #55)

Now, I admit, there’s a single dollar amount quoted in her article that caught my attention, and it’s from this paragraph:

I had only a few lines in each of four episodes. But those tiny residual checks keep trickling in, and over the years, Seinfeld has earned me well over $80,000. Plus, my association with the show—however modest—has opened all kinds of doors for me.

I always wondered about that: How much do you make for having played a small role in something that becomes really big?

There’s something beautiful about residuals for any creative person. Not that $80,000 total is “retire on a beach money” necessarily, but those checks can seem even sweeter for the fact that you did the work years ago, and yet you’re still getting paid.

Anyway, Korzen is now 83, and I came across this story because we’re both members of a writers’ group on Facebook where she shared it.

I’d like to insist that I’m not old enough to be targeted by AARP, which owns the publication her article appeared in, but apparently, they’ve set their sights on Generation X lately, so I suppose it’s inevitable.

Korzen is also kind of big on TikTok, which takes us straight past Generation X and into Z. She’s also had small roles in Tootsie, LA Law, ER, Hannah Montana, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and lots of other shows dating back 30 years until the present, big and small.

With this long preamble, I’ll be interviewing Korzen for an episode of Understandably Live tomorrow at 1 pm ET. Sign up here if you’d like to be a part of it (on Zoom). We’ll talk about Seinfeld, her career, and what it’s like to be big on TikTok at 83.

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As always, premium members get preference for the slots in this interview. But if you’re a big Seinfeld fan, and especially if you know exactly who Korzen’s character Doris Klompus was without looking it up, mention it when you sign up and I’ll make sure we fit you in.

Before I let her go, here’s why Korzen thinks people still talk about Seinfeld all these years later—and why they cared about the show’s “whiny, dishonest, and manipulative” characters:

We all want to be accepted for who we are, and that’s what Jerry and George and Elaine and Kramer provide. No matter what crazy-ass things they say to each other, no matter what crazy-ass things they do to each other, they always just let it go and move on.

They forgive and forget—which is how we should treat people we love. So, the TV show that’s “not about anything” is really about a big, fat F-word called Family, and I will be forever grateful that I got to be a part of that miracle.

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Call for comments: Seinfeld fan, or not, and why? Also, what’s the one small thing you did in your life or career that people still ask you about today?

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7 other things worth your time


Thanks for reading. Photo credit: TikTok composite. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.