“The Contest” is one of the best, if not the greatest episode of Seinfeld (both Vanity Fair and Vulture put it #1, as did IMDb users), which is kind of incredible, when you think about it. After all, it’s an episode about masturbation where, infamously, the word “masturbation” is never said. (Instead, we get “master of my domain” and “I’m out.”) Larry David based his Emmy-winning script on a real-life contest he participated in (he won), and he had the idea for the episode “in my notebook for some time and I never even mentioned it to Jerry [Seinfeld] because I didn’t think there was any way that he would want to do it,” the Curb Your Enthusiasm creator told Vulture.
David believed in “The Contest” so much, in fact, that he was ready to quit Seinfeld if NBC refused to air it. “I remember being nervous because the NBC executives were there [for the table read],” he said. “I really had this thing going on in my head where, well, if they don’t like it, I’m just going to quit the show. I really had this built up in my head where, there’s no way they’re going to do it and I’m just going to quit if they don’t do it.”
Michael Richards, who played Kramer, added, “Larry was going to put his whole job on the line. I’ve known Larry since we did Fridays together, and that’s Larry David. If he believes in something, he’s just going to fight for it.”
An episode of television about adults not masturbating — after one of them gets caught with his pants down “reading” Glamour — is a hill worth dying on.