Thursday, November 29, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 9, Episode 2 - The Voice

“The Voice”

First Script Read: August 29, 1997
Filmed: Wednesday, September 3, 1997
Aired: October 2, 1997
Nielsen rating: 21.5
Audience share: 33
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writers: Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, and David Mandel

Jerry imagines his girlfriend's belly button talks to him in a funny voice at night while she is sleeping. He shares the joke and the voice with George and Kramer, and they all get a big kick out of doing the voice. Eventually, Clare, Jerry's girlfriend, catches him chuckling to himself one night in bed. She confronts him and he tells her about the voice. She is not amused and makes him choose between doing the voice and dating her. Of course, he chooses the voice only to discover George and Kramer have grown tired of the joke. Jerry manages to get back together with Clare until she's struck in the head by a giant ball of oil (a test run for Kramerica Industries' oil bladder idea) after not heeding Jerry's cries of warning because she thought he was doing the voice again.

The running inside joke of the voice rings true for me, not because I've ever come up with anything quite like it, but because I've had more than my share of long-running inside jokes that are essentially impossible to explain to people not in on the joke. In fact, on the DVD Inside Look featurette, Seinfeld writer Spike Feresten admits that the idea came from his own experience. He once admitted to his girlfriend that he imagined a similar voice coming from her butt at night while she slept. Her reaction, according to Feresten, was similar to Clare's.

When Jerry is deciding between Clare and the voice, he goes back to the pier where, once upon a time, first George and then he made a decision to get married. In fact, to complete the match, the exact same footage is used of Jerry running off the pier. As David Mandel points out in the commentary, it's a joke typical of Seinfeld's Late Period. Actually, the joke works in a similar way to most inside joke. The pier was funny the first time it happened ("The Engagement") because of the silliness of George sprinting. After a couple times, it becomes funny because it is recognizable as a repetition.

The danger of the repeated, inside joke is that it will eventually wear thin, as Jerry discovers with the voice, and some fans and critics felt about Seinfeld's Late Period. As someone who is the last to let go of the humor of an inside joke, I discovered the same thing Jerry does at the end of the episode - sometimes a tired joke can catch back on.

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