Comedian and ‘Seinfeld’ Writer Carol Leifer Goes Behind the Scenes on Her Greatest Episodes

Stern Show superfan also makes an exclusive announcement

April 7, 2014
Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Comedian, writer, and Stern Show superfan Carol Leifer stopped by the studio this morning. She took Howard through her brilliant “Seinfeld” episodes, revealed some of the advice from her new book – “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying” – and announced that she’s more “committed” to women than ever before.


Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Howard is a big fan of Carol’s, and with good reason. She wrote some of the greatest “Seinfeld” plot lines of the show’s heyday. Carol was quick to point out nothing got on the air without going through Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s brilliant comedic filter. Still, some plots sounded like pure Carol.

“The Lip Reader” – Carol wrote in her book that the idea for “The Lip Reader” (where George brings a deaf woman to a party so she can lip read his ex-girlfriend and see why she broke up with him) was inspired by hearing deaf comedian Kathy Buckley on the Stern Show in the early 1990s.

“The Hamptons” – A true classic featuring “the ugly baby” and George’s penile “shrinkage.” Carol admitted the term shrinkage actually came from Larry David, not her.

“The Understudy” — Seinfeld wasn’t a mega-hit when Carol co-wrote “The Understudy” with the late great Marjorie Gross. Carol talked about pleading with Liza Minnelli on the phone to play herself in a guest spot in the episode, but Liza declined. “If you’re gonna use me, you have to really use me,” she recalled her saying. Bette Midler ended up taking the role as a favor to her ailing friend.

“The Secretary” – Howard particularly liked Elaine’s story arch, where she becomes convinced that Barney’s department store uses “skinny mirrors.” Howard swears that he looks great at the gym and horrible in his home mirrors (more on that later).

“The Rye” – Carole wrote the brilliant plot line where Elaine dates a saxophone player whose artistry is compromised when he goes down on her too much – his lips aren’t the same. Kramer also takes over a friend’s horse-drawn tourist carriage and feeds the horse a can of “Beef-A-Reeno” (they weren’t allowed to use Beefaroni).

The prop guy gave Carol the can, which she treasured until a mover accidentally threw it away, assuming it was garbage.


Each writer would pitch their ideas to Larry and Jerry one-on-two, so to speak. Carol described a tick of Larry’s – he would rotate his shoulder if he didn’t love an idea and say, “No, I can see that on another show.” Seinfeld did not want to be like any other show, but when a writer hit on something great – skinny mirrors or gossiping manicurists – Larry would leap up and shout, “That’s a show!”

Other highlights from Carol’s interview:

* It’s somewhat rare for a comic to have one rough season at “Saturday Night Live” and go on to greatness, but that’s what happened to Carol. She realized now she was writing to please fellow writers Al Franken and Jim Downey and not the big man in charge, Lorne Michaels. Carol felt that Lorne didn’t really get her, but instead of trying to show him her talent she shrunk down and hid away from him. It taught her a valuable lesson – aim to please the man in charge.

* Someone who never shrunk down and hid away was stockbroker-turned-Stern Show writer Sal Governale. Carol actually used his story as a lesson in her book, if you can believe it. Carol wrote that by being the “squeaky wheel” Sal made an impression and refused to be ignored. This has got to be the first and last time Sal will ever be used as a business success story.

Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Carol had a major announcement, a true Stern Show exclusive: She started off saying she loved her partner, Lori, they’d been together a long time. Howard thought she was about to announce that she was going back to guys, but Carol assured him she was committed to women. In fact, she was more committed than ever as she announced she and her partner were getting married.

Check out Carol’s new book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying.”