Obscure ‘Seinfeld’ writer shares experiences in autobiography
Fred Stoller is one of those character actors you might have seen popping up on situation comedies such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the guy with the downcast look and the monotone voice who appears oh so briefly on camera to grab a quick laugh from viewers before disappearing from the episode.
You never know his name, unless you bother to search the credits that pop up following the program.
“My Seinfeld Year” covers Stoller’s brief time as a writer for the long-running, popular television show.
Stoller, who broke into show biz as a standup comedian, spends a lot of the book describing his insecurities and lack of self-confidence. In this autobiography, he’s forever looking for his big break, which is a main reason he ends up writing for “Seinfeld.”
But the guy who wanted to become a well-known character actor finds it tough going getting his scripts noticed by Larry David, co-creator of “Seinfeld.”
Before “Seinfeld,” the book briefly covers his lonely boyhood in Brooklyn, a time when he was such a nobody and so invisible that “I was jealous of the kid who always got chased and beat up.”
As a budding comedian, his own mother doubted him. “You’re so depressed, how are you going to make people laugh,” she said.
He later tired of the comedy club circuit and turned to acting, grabbing bit parts in television sitcoms such as “Murphy Brown,” “Amen” and “Empty Nest.”
By his own admission, he dreamed of becoming a well-known character actor.
And then came his chance to write for “Seinfeld.”
As opposed to acting, he figured writing for TV was a secure job with good pay.
The problem is Stoller never knows where he stands with the other writers, the cast members of the show and how exactly he’s supposed to be spending his days. His low-self esteem and defeatist attitude hound him.
Eventually, he comes up with some quirky ideas for “Seinfeld,” including situations from his own life, and works at writing scripts.
Mostly, he seems to brood and agonize over pleasing Larry David, who comes off at various times as odd, angry, but also sympathetic to the plight of a sad sack such as Stoller.
Readers looking for inside, juicy gossip about Jerry Seinfeld or his supporting cast of Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Michael Richards, who played Kramer in the show, will be sorely disappointed. Stoller does marvel at their acting talents, however.
And Stoller shares a few of his encounters with them.
Stoller has some funny stories to tell and reveals a bit of what it’s like to be in show business from the perspective of someone who’s far from a star.
“My Seinfeld Year” is a quick, easy and entertaining read for anyone looking for light reading at the beach.