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Decider Essentials

‘Giddy Up!’: The 10 Essential Kramer Episodes of ‘Seinfeld’

Where to Stream

Seinfeld

There was a stretch in the middle of Seinfeld‘s run where Michael Richards‘ Kramer would receive entrance applause from the studio audience, like the Fonz on Happy Days. That kind of adulation from the audience ran counter to Seinfeld‘s decidedly unsentimental heart, and it came across as pretty awkward. But it also summed up the Kramer character pretty well. He was easily the most cartoonish, least tethered to reality of the four main characters.

A kind of urban legend who lived across the hall, Kramer’s gift to the show was by always getting into bizarre situations. He was great for comedy purposes because he opened up the possibilities of where a plot could go. Underwear model for Calvin Klein? Sure. Spitting coffee onto Regis and Kathie Lee? Yes.

While the idea of a marathon of great Kramer episodes might seem like planning a sugar binge for dinner, trust us that these ten episodes will not disappoint. These ten episodes are Kramer at his very best.

1

'The Contest' (Season 4, Episode 11)

It was incredibly tough to decide which character to cede “The Contest” to, as it was as pure an ensemble achievement as Seinfeld ever delivered. But there’s something about the way he answers Elaine’s hypothetical “I shave my legs” with “…but not every day” that always utterly slays me. Plus the moment when he slaps the money on the counter and declares himself out of the contest is a howler.

2

'The Conversion' (Season 5, Episode 11)

Kramer’s ability to unwittingly (or half-wittingly, at least) seduce a Latvian orthodox nun into renouncing her vows is a nice encapsulation of the way the show consistently wrote ungainly, unusual-looking Kramer as having an inexplicable allure. This episode just put a word to it, as the Latvian orthodox priests dubbed him “the kavorka.”

3

'The Doorman' (Season 6, Episode 18)

Kramer’s doomed business partnership with Frank Costanza in developing the “bro” (or is it “mansserie”?) male undergarment is exactly the kind of spectacular failure you expect it to be. Kramer and Frank make a great combo.

4

'The Fusilli Jerry' (Season 6, Episode 5)

Speaking of Kramer and Frank, this is the episode where Kramer’s seemingly innocent car ride with Estelle leads Frank to think Kramer “stopped short” with her. This leads to the fight that ends with Frank falling keister-first onto the titular corkscrew pasta. Kramer’s delight in creating such a silly little figurine for Jerry could only have ended in such disaster.

5

'The Hot Tub' (Season 7, Episode 18)

Kramer installs a hot tub in his apartment, which of course is destined to end in disaster. The fun is in trying to anticipate how, and at what angles it will reconnect to Jerry’s plot of trying to be the wake-up call for a marathon runner.

6

'The Wait Out' (Season 7, Episode 23)

Sometimes a great Kramer episode doesn’t need anything more than “Kramer starts wearing incredibly tight jeans.” A brilliant showcase for Michael Richards’ talent for physical comedy.

7

'The Muffin Tops' (Season 8, Episode 21)

The underrated part of this episode involved Kramer’s lectures to Jerry about the dangers of shaving his chest. The justifiably celebrated part of this episode has Kramer hosting a J. Peterman Reality Bus Tour (since, as the man who sold his stories to Peterman, Kramer is the “real” Peterman). This one was famously based on the real-life Kenny Kramer who ran a similar bus tour in New York during Seinfeld‘s run.

8

'The Voice' (Season 9, Episode 2)

While Jerry and George are busy with their goofy “HELLO!” voice, Kramer is hard at work making Kramerica Industries a success — or at least enough of a business that he can keep an intern. The scene where he has to justify his business’ existence to the internship director is a deserved classic.

9

'The Merv Griffin Show' (Season 9, Episode 6)

Kramer finds the remains of the old Merv Griffin talk show set and sets it up in his own apartment, becoming a 24/7 talk show host in his own life. It’s utterly bizarre but oddly a perfect fit for Kramer.

10

'The Dealership' (Season 9, Episode 11)

Another loony plot, this time involving Kramer and the car salesman taking a test drive long, long, long past the point where rational men fear to tread. The final few moments of this plot are both intense and hilarious.

 

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