Jerry Seinfeld was on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast this week. It was interesting, because Maron’s podcast began as one centered on comedians, and in all of these years, he’d never had one of the biggest of all time, Jerry Seinfeld, on it. In fact, this podcast — conducted over Zoom — is the first time that Maron and Seinfeld had ever “met.” Not to read too much into it, but the dynamic between the two was an unusual one for Maron. Seinfeld didn’t really seem to know Maron from Adam, and Maron seemed to want Seinfeld to know that he’s a legit comedian with several hour-long specials.
However, Jerry Seinfeld is a fairly closed-off person, publicly, who doesn’t often talk about process, and to Maron’s credit, over the hour, he was able to get Seinfeld to dig fairly deep into his comedy. It’s notable, however, that by the end of the episode, Seinfeld mentioned how much he enjoyed doing a deep dive on comedy on the podcast, while Maron’s attitude was more along the lines of, “You should come back, because you have barely scratched the surface.” The two clearly have a different idea about what is deep, and those differences are obviously reflected in their respective acts.
In either respect, what’s interesting is that closer to the end of the podcast, Maron asked Seinfeld, “Why does everyone say you were a Scientologist once?” Personally, I didn’t know that people thought Seinfeld was a Scientologist, and to get to the roof of the rumor, one has to go back to a feud between Seinfeld and Bobcat Goldthwait, of all people. Back in the ’90s, Goldthwait was often critical of Seinfeld and his brand of comedy, and he once declared that Seinfeld was a Scientologist.
“Here is this creepy Scientologist guy (dating) teenage girls – which I don’t care about one way or another,” Goldthwait told the Spokesman-Review in 1995. “What I find creepy is that people are convinced he lives in that apartment, and those are his wacky friends. They don’t like each other; they’re actors paid to pretend they like Jerry Seinfeld. He’s a weird guy. But everybody thinks he’s normal and I’m weird.”
Seinfeld addressed the feud last year, ranting about Goldwaithe on his show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, via the Spokesman-Review:
“I don’t like him. At all. I had kind of forgotten about him and then there was a little article about him in the paper and even in that there was a veiled reference to his dislike of what I did. It didn’t have my name, of course. He used to rail against me ’cause they weren’t as wild and dangerous as he was. ‘Cause he sucked. He wasn’t funny. And that’s why he didn’t get anywhere. Cause in comedy, nobody gives a f*ck if you’re cool, if you’re lame. If you’re funny, you win. If you’re not funny, you don’t.”
Anyway, it appears that the rumor was popularized by Goldwaithe, although Seinfeld admits on the Maron podcast that he dabbled in Scientology back in the 1970s. “I did do a course in Scientology in, like, 1975,” he said on the podcast. “I found it very interesting, but I never pursued it.” He did admit, however, that he found the “emphasis on ethical behavior” fascinating, but he wasn’t really into the “avoiding negative people” aspects of the religion. That’s as much as he’d go into it on the podcast, although he has spoken about his experience with it in other interviews in the past.
“Believe it or not…it’s extremely intellectual and clinical in its approach to problem-solving, which really appealed to me,” Seinfeld told Parade magazine back in 2008. “It was very helpful. I took a couple of courses. One of them was in communication, and I learned some things about communication that really got my act going.”
Although he does not practice Scientology, on the podcast, Seinfeld said that he is spiritual, but not “in any conventional terms,” although he does celebrate some of the major Jewish holidays.
Seinfeld’s stand up special, 23 Hours to Kill, is currently available on Netflix.
Source: WTF with Marc Maron