“If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.”
That was my character’s line when I appeared on an episode of Seinfeld called “The Pie“.
In 1992, I was working as the MC at The Improv in Hollywood. As such, I introduced and watched some of the biggest names in comedy. Jerry would often come in to workout bits for the “bumpers”, the parts of the show at the beginning and end where he is on stage telling the jokes that become the stories. This one time, he was doing a bit about whether there are keys to a jet liner and does the pilot sometimes forget and leave them at home? I jotted down an idea for the end of the joke; “When you see the guys on the ground, they’re looking for the Hide-A-Key under the wing.”, and gave it to Jerry as he left. He said that he liked it. While working at the Improv, I learned that not all comics want people to suggest material to them, even if it’s good material. I didn’t want to bug Jerry and the next time he was in the club, I asked him if he still wanted me to make suggestions. He said, “No, I don’t mind at all. We are both in the same comedy lifeboat.”
On Wednesday May 6th, 1992, I watched “Seinfeld” along with half of America and heard Jerry END THE SHOW with this:
“So, I fly a lot. I like planes. I was on a plane the other day and I was wondering – are there keys to the plane? Do they need keys to start the plane? Maybe that’s what those delays on the ground are sometimes. When you’re just sitting there at the gate, maybe the pilot’s just up there in the cockpit going (mimics looking for keys) “Oh, I don’t believe this. Oh my God…I did it again.” They tell you it’s something mechanical, because they don’t want to come on the PA system…”Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to be delayed here on the ground for a little while, I uh…Oh God, this is so embarrassing…I – I left the keys to the plane in my apartment.” You see the technicians all running underneath the plane; you think they’re servicing it, but they’re actually looking for the magnet “hide-a-key” under the wing…”maybe he left it up there somewhere…””
I was kinda blown away for a moment, then happy. I didn’t expect anything from Jerry. I just thought it was cool.
A couple of years later, I had a chance encounter with Larry David. When I was just starting at the Improv, Larry David was on a comedy show called “Fridays“, and came in often to work on his act. One day, I saw him at a small Mexican restaurant which was across the street from the studio where Seinfeld was filmed. I went up to him and congratulated him on the show. “Wait a minute.”, he says. “Your’e an actor, right?” “Yes.” “Good. Call my office tomorrow morning. I think I have something for you.” Of course, when I called the next day, he said, “Oh, you know, yeah, I don’t have anything right now. I’ll keep you mind.” Hollywood, I thought.
Not long after that, my agent called to tell me that I had a audition for “Seinfeld” for the part of Businessman #1. I sat in the waiting area with five or six other potential “Businessman #1″s. First Larry came in. “Tony! Good to see you! Told you I get you in!” Then, Michael Richards comes in to the office for something else. He knew me from the Improv as well. “Hey! Tony! How you doing! Are you auditioning? Well, I’ll see you on the set!” Finally, Jerry comes in. “Tony, good to see you. Hey, thanks again for that joke. I’ll see you inside.”
Yeah, that one time, I was that guy that all actors hate.
But here’s the buried lede of this story. Today, I happened to Google “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” I learned that, a couple of months ago, Jerry was the guest on Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything”. Among the many questions posed to Jerry, Reddit user “DetroitPistions” asked:
DetroitPistons: Do you find yourself often quoting the more popular lines from the show? I use “these pretzels are making me thirsty” as often as I can.
Jerry Seinfeld: The only line I quote from the show (and I’ll be very impressed if anybody out there remembers this line) is “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” I find myself saying that to my kids a lot. It’s a very obscure line, but George was working at some company where they all had lunch together, and he wasn’t trying the apple pie, and the boss finally says “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” A lot of times kids won’t want to try certain foods, and so I’ll use that line.”
So, out of all of the, what, hundreds of quotable Seinfeld lines, Jerry only quotes “If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.” Sure, he forgot that it was Businessman #1 who said the line, not the boss, but who cares? I’m just glad that, in some small way, I could help Jerry get his kids to eat broccoli.
You’re welcome Jerry. And thanks.