Seinfeld went off the air in May 1998, but the NBC hit series remains a cultural touchstone for many, in part because a comedy ostensibly about nothing would almost by definition wind up largely drawing on the hilarity of everyday situations.
But in the same vein as Curb Your Enthusiasm, the follow-up hit from Seinfeld co-creator Larry David on HBO, Seinfeld had a way of isolating the most absurd aspect of its characters’ nature and intertwining them into a series of absurd events. That’s what took the show out of the category of the merely relatable, and launched it into the realm of the truly memorable.
In a June 2016 AMA on Reddit about his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld was asked about the joke he was most proud of inventing. It was this one, and it’s funnier if you know that missing from this two-and-a-half-minute-clip is an earlier subplot about Kramer golfing at the beach.
As Seinfeld explained on Reddit:
I think the best Seinfeld episode idea I ever contributed was that George pretending to be a marine biologist would find Kramer’s golf ball in the blowhole of the whale. Believe it or not, we were doing both of those stories without seeing any connection that Kramer was gonna hit golf balls at the beach, and George was gonna be pretending to be a marine biologist. And it was in the middle of the week that it suddenly hit me of a way to connect the two stories.
So, I think that’s probably the best joke I ever thought of on the series. But, I love when people say “regift” or “giddyup”, or “yada yadda.” The real and spectacular…I was a very big fan of the show.
But humor is a subjective thing. On Vulture’s ranking of all 169 episodes of Seinfeld, “The Marine Biologist” episode was ranked 61st.