Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



There were nine seasons of Seinfeld. I’ve got almost all of them on DVD. (They’re only DVDs I own, I’m pretty sure.) One of my favourite scenes from the entire run is this exquisitely scripted exchange between Jerry Seinfeld and the hard-nosed library investigations officer, Mr Bookman.

The scene was written by Larry Charles – who went on to direct Curb Your Enthusiasm, Borat and Bruno, amongst other things. He got the idea from watching reruns of the 1960s cop show Dragnet, and imagining how life would be if people actually conducted themselves in the manner of (the fictional) Sergent Joe Friday

Certainly, as a writer, I will die a happy man if I ever compose a punchline half as funny as “I’ve got a flash for you joyboy!”

On the DVD commentary, Larry David reveals that Bookman (played brilliantly by Philip Baker Hall) was one of his all-time favourite characters on the show. He would have made Bookman a recurring character, he says, but found it impossible to write a library investigations officer back into the series. Philip Baker Hall, however, would later resurface on Curb Your Enthusiasm as Larry’s doctor.

P.S. Ah, what the hell… Apropos of nothing at all, here’s Sergent Joe Friday interrogating Johnny Carson.

July 8th, 2009.

6 Responses to “THE LIBRARY (1991)”

  1. darragh Says:

    Awww Great stuff. Seinfeld DVDs are the number one thing I reach for when I feel in need of cheering up. It’s perfectly funny comedy. Peerless.

    Hard to pick a funniest moment, but for me it normally involves Costanza. There’s the episode where he does the complete opposite of his instincts…”Who are you George Costanza?” “I’m the opposite of every man you’ve ever met”.


    Or the twix meltdown in season 9. “TWWWIIIXXX!!!”


  2. Paul Says:

    My own favourite guest star is the terrifying Elaine Benes’ Dad played by the terrifying Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs’ Joe Cabot, and the first man to play John Dillinger). Not only is the episode hilarious in and of itself, it gets even funnier when you realise that Seinfeld was genuinely scared of Tierney, who was a very two-fisted drinker with little time for chit-chat, smalltalk or any of Jerry’s stock in trade, really. According to Wikipedia, “He stole a butcher knife from Jerry’s TV kitchen and hid it under his jacket. When Seinfeld confronted him about it (much to the dismay of the entire cast), Tierney made a stabbing motion towards Jerry…” (insert slap bass punchline here).

  3. Eoin Says:

    @ Darragh – hilarious!

    @ Paul – that’s absolutely right Paul. Great bit about it here…

  4. Donny Says:

    Little known Seinfeld fact: Larry David partly based Elaine Benes’s character on the daughter of Revolutionary Road writer Richard Yates. Larry and she were friends at some stage in the 80s and the episode with Elaine’s terrifying/alcoholic father was based on a run-in David had with Yates, who had a tragic relantionship with drink.

  5. Matt Says:

    @ Darragh – one of my favourite sequences is Jerry and George pulling the ‘old Switcheroo’


  6. Eoin Says:

    Hey Donny, your comment (along with a pile of others from over the last month) went into my spam folder for some reason. Sorry about that! I actually did know about Richard Yates, but then I’m something of a Seinfeld swat!

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