At least that’s what I thought when I first heard him on Marc Maron’s podcast, when I finally figured out who it was. You know him too, Stoller’s the schnook with the whiny voice, the kind of guy who wants to be your friend who you avoid.
But the intro to Maron’s interview was so fascinating, I came around. You see Stoller was calling after the fact, he felt like he’d screwed up, that he didn’t sell himself, give his bonafides, like his connection to Eddie Murphy, hooking him up with SNL.
And you can listen to the podcast.
But I really recommend reading the book, “My Seinfeld Year”, it’s a Kindle Single.
Stoller’s a loser. He can barely get laid and gave up standup comedy because he couldn’t handle the road or the audience, who didn’t appreciate someone low-key who struggled to work up an hour’s worth of material.
So he became a character actor. Well, that’s a little strong. He started appearing as a delivery man, as a pain in the ass on sitcoms. Just small parts.
And that’s when he ran into Larry David at a party, who wondered why Fred hadn’t pitched him a “Seinfeld” script. He said if Fred put in the effort, he’d read it. He wouldn’t guarantee he’d do it, but he’d read it.
So Fred sat down and wrote a spec script and lo and behold, he got hired as a writer on “Seinfeld”. Where another writer tried to sandbag him and he continually worried he was missing out on his acting career.
And all these years later, Fred’s written a book about the experience. Well, he started it years ago, but he just finished it. He agonized how much to charge for it on Amazon, ninety nine cents or $1.99. Maron gave him a flip answer, but we’re obsessive, it means so much to us, it’s got to be exactly right.
After agonizing, Fred decided on $1.99.
And I recommend you go on Amazon right now and buy it.
It’s great to hear the story of someone who’s not a winner, who’s trying to find his way, as opposed to the self-satisfied schmucks who think they have all the answers. I read those self-help books and say, THAT’S NOT ME!
But reading Stoller’s book, I saw so much of myself in it.
As to the fateful night he ran into Larry David:
“I wasn’t going to go to Steve’s surprise party at first. I wasn’t feeling that social, though I was painfully alone at the time. I do things like that. I’ll moan to myself how isolated I am, go outside, see someone I know and then hide from them. It’s not always because the person is the most annoying. Sometimes with some people I just know what the conversation is going to be and I don’t have the strength to relive it in real life after experiencing it in my head.”
I avoid people constantly. I’ll duck around the corner, I’ll leave early, I just can’t endure you telling me how great things are, how you’re setting the world on fire, as if I’m in Best Buy and you’re selling me a new TV.
When I was single I used to lament being alone all the time. But the thought of enduring the fruitless conversations outside my door was enough to convince me to stay inside.
“Or maybe it was that crazy irrational part of me that feels bad for people when there’s no reason to feel bad for them.”
This is me to a “T”. You think because I say such outrageous things in print I must be a real backstabber in real life, just like you. Whispering behind people’s backs, playing my manipulative game. But that’s patently untrue. I’m just honest in a world where people believe they can’t be. And I’ve been abused by so many that I go out of my way to be nice to those screwed over. I include them, respond to their e-mail, speak to them at affairs, I just don’t want to add to their pain. Then again, are they experiencing any?
“My overall writing experience on ‘Seinfeld’ had left me feeling confused, numb and not very confident.”
Reminds me of playing high school sports. I was on the team but not a member of it. Not one of those high-fiving, towel-snapping, smiling winners. They say it builds character. I would have been better off in my room at home, alone.
And here comes the piece-de-resistance:
“I’m trapped in a weird kind of showbiz sitcom purgatory – I get enough work not to quit, but never enough to feel I can take a deep breath and stop struggling.”
It’s easier if you fail. But if you have a bit of success, you keep going, figuring it’s gonna get easier, your big break is just around the corner.
But Fred Stoller’s break has yet to come.
If Fred had brought “My Seinfeld Year” to a traditional publisher, they wouldn’t have taken it. If they were interested at all, they would have told him how to change it, ruining it in the process. But doing it his way, the book resonated.
It’s #65 in the Kindle Store. #1 in Entertainers and Singles.
And that’s utterly amazing, I’m sure Fred’s shocked.
You’ve got to take a chance.
And I’m recommending taking a chance on “My Seinfeld Year”.
Even if you continue to hate Fred, you’ll gain all kinds of insight into the production of “Seinfeld”, stuff I’ve seen nowhere else.
But if anybody else had put forth this information, it just wouldn’t be as interesting.
What ever happened to that guy from fourth grade? You know, who didn’t get straight A’s, who didn’t throw the ball the hardest?
I’m not saying I want to hang out with Fred, I’m fearful of being brought down to his level, caring for a cat alone in an apartment.
But I found more humanity in “My Seinfeld Year” than in any book I’ve read in eons.
The human condition. It’s fascinating and repulsive at the same time.
Take a chance.
“My Seinfeld Year”You don’t need a Kindle to read it, just download a free Kindle app to read it on your Mac or your iPad or your iPhone or PC, Android, Blackberry or Windows phone
P.S. This is a Kindle SINGLE! Which means it’s short. Budget an hour and a half max. Don’t be too overwhelmed to try.