When we watch Seinfeld‘s “The Strike” — an episode that we took a look at last week — whether today or 17 years ago, we really don’t get an idea of how funny the concept of Festivus was to the cast. Even in the Season 9 blooper reel, we only get a glimpse of how hard it was for the actors to keep it together during the filming of the Festivus dinner, and it had to have been hard because that was such a hilarious scene. For one star in particular, it was nearly impossible to get through her scenes, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus could not stop laughing about her special dinner companions from the betting parlor.
“When shooting ‘The Strike,’ one of my favorite things, in hindsight, that used to happen is when it was very late at night Julia Louis-Dreyfus would get the giggles and it was usually the last or second to last scene of the night,” writer Alec Berg recalls. “She would start to laugh and part of me was like, ‘Ugh, dammit, we gotta get this done so we can go home and get a few hours of sleep before we have to come back tomorrow morning and start all over again.’ But her laugh is so infectious and so enjoyable that everybody else would just start laughing, and I can’t even remember what the line was. There was a guy named Colin, the long-haired guy, he had a cable access show called Colin’s Sleazy Friends, where he would hang out with porn stars and we hired him off of that. We thought he was such a hilarious scuzzy scumbag guy. I can’t remember what the line was but she was supposed to turn to him and say something and we must have tried to do that line 30 times and she just kept breaking.”
As you can see in the clip, the line was, “I think you’re a fox,” and by just looking at Colin Malone it’s easy to see why she couldn’t keep it together. But the actress’s real problem was Jerry Stiller, because she could not stop laughing at all of his lines during the dinner scene.
“The Festivus dinner scene took something like six hours to shoot,” explains “The Strike” writer Dan O’Keefe, whose father created Festivus in 1966. “Jerry Stiller broke a lot of lines and as it got later and later and he would try to get through some of the longer speeches, Julia would just start laughing more.”
“Julia, who’s the greatest comedic actress ever, her kryptonite, the thing that would just stop her in her tracks, was Jerry Stiller’s halting, explosive delivery,” writer Jeff Schaffer adds. “She couldn’t hold it. Then we knew we’d be there for a while because once she started laughing she could not stop. ‘I got a lot of things to say to you people! And you’re going to hear them!’ And she’s gone. She’s gone, gone, gone again. Her laugh is so infectious that everyone would just start laughing and Jerry Stiller’s read just destroyed Julia. Anytime those two were together, it was, ‘Oh, this is going to take much longer than you think.’ ”
Judging by Dreyfus’s many, many, many breaking moments from the entire series, though, no one really minded a few extra takes.
Read our piece on the true story behind Festivus here.