[Photos by Evelyn Taylor]
BY KYLEE MESSNER You know the kind of people who are funny just by talking about the ordinary, without really trying at all? Unfortunately, those are not the kind of people I witnessed at the Kimmel Center’s Seinfeld Stand-Up Comedy Contest last night. The Kimmel Center was packed with businessmen and women, twentysomethings, and a handful of high school students. I couldn’t help but wonder what separated the young from the old; who had seen the original show’s airing in 1989, and which fans simply caught a couple of classics on TBS’s never-ending airing of re-runs. The night was split into two sections: four rounds of Seinfeld trivia, and three rounds of stand up and sketch comedy. The first place winner, otherwise known to Seinfeld fans as the “master of the domain” would win four tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Kimmel on June 19th and a $200 gift certificate for Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
“Tonight, we have a contest that’s basically about nothing… but Seinfeld,” the host began. He reminded the audience of the rules of the contest: participants in the act would be judged by a panel on their appearance, comedic timing, and choice of comedic material. Glancing over the crowd once more, I had hoped the participants’ humor would be more impressive than their failure to look like the sitcom’s cast—save for two Elaine look-a-likes sitting near the front of the stage. The first act was barely audible. Perhaps their humor would have been better received, had they learned the technique of standing in front of a microphone when one is provided. One brave soul in the crowd managed to utter a loud “boo,” as the act exited the stage. The judges appeared lenient, but unimpressed. Sharon Gellar, one of two Elaine look-a-likes, shook up the crowd with her impression of Elaine on a subway. I couldn’t help but think how much more enjoyable a SEPTA ride would be with outbursts like Elaine’s.
In between performers, there were an intense rounds of Seinfeld trivia, with questions like “What is Kramer’s first name?” and “Who is the old Henry candy bar heiress?” There appeared to be more trivia enthusiasts than impersonators, though the audience seemed to be more concerned with having a good time than winning, sharing answers with one another so no one would feel like the biggest loser. Much like the show’s dry humor, the second round started out rather blandly, save for another Elaine impersonator. Though there were still two rounds to go, it was clear the Elaine impersonators of the evening would be the stars of the show, that is, until Ben Carter took the stage for his impersonation of Jerry. Carter may not have looked the look, but he sure could talk the Jerry talk. The evening continued on with another two rounds of barely audible contestants, mediocre impressions, and nervous performers. Finally, it was time to declare a winner. The two Elaine impersonators had managed to tie, causing them to have an “Elaine-off” to determine a runner-up. Much to my surprise, neither of the Elaine look-a-likes won, with the four tickets to see Seinfeld perform going to Jerry doppelganger Ben Carter.