Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur continue their journey to watch every Seinfeld episode as they discuss Season 3, Episode 9 “The Nose Job” with episode writer, Peter Mehlman.
Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur were sure not to butcher this week’s podcast as they welcomed a big guest from the world of Seinfeld. In addition to breaking down “The Nose Job”, which first aired November 20, 1991, Peter Mehlman, the writer of the episode called in to share some stories from his days writing for the iconic show.
With no time for current Seinfeld news in this action packed recap, they delve right into the episode. Jerry’s opening standup is a bit about how the pharmacist window is on a platform above everything else. Rob thought it was only loosely related to the plot, and seemed a little “hacky”.
The episode starts at the newsstand, which Rob thought was the first time we see a more expansive set. George and Jerry are talking about how Jerry was able to get a woman’s phone number in 60 seconds during an elevator ride. George asks him how he does it, and the scene cuts to Jerry telling the woman he is responsible for the crop circles in England, though she has no idea what he’s talking about. Jerry points out to George some spinach in his teeth, and George realizes that he had it stuck in there during his job interview earlier. The scene flashes back to the interview, where the interviewer is cringing at the spinach in his teeth.
George then starts to tell Jerry about his girlfriend Audrey’s nose. Jerry agrees that it’s a “schnoz”, but thinks George should try not to worry about it. Rob pointed out that the premise of this episode is all about the obsessing over a small imperfection. Akiva mentioned how the show The League had a similar storyline just recently.
Next, at Jerry’s apartment, they are all eating pizza with Audrey. Kramer brings up how the guy who took back the jacket is now in jail, and he needs Elaine to come along on this caper to get it back. Akiva pointed out how Elaine is always plugged in to the caper story in these first few seasons. Rob noted that this is the first time we hear Kramer refer to his alias Peter Van Nostrand. When Audrey starts talking about all the beautiful women in New York City, Kramer tells her that she’s as pretty as them, she just needs a nose job. Rob really appreciated how great everyone’s reaction was to this.
After some standup from Jerry, the next scene is George at Elaine’s apartment, where Audrey is staying. They start talking about the idea of her getting a nose job. George does a not so subtle job of convincing her it’s a good idea. Elaine comes in admonishing him for it, but George still tries to sell it.
In the next scene, Jerry and George are at the coffee shop celebrating that he’s convinced Audrey to get the nose job, while simultaneously feeling like he will be going to hell for it. They also talk about Jerry’s situation with Isabel, the woman from the elevator, and how he hates her as a person, but is so attracted to her physically. He describes it as a chess match between his penis and his brain. They cut to a scene with Jerry giving Kramer Isabel’s number because he doesn’t trust himself not to call her anymore.
They are back at Elaine’s apartment as Audrey is going to take the bandages off her nose. As she reveals to them her new nose, they all quickly discover that her nose is dented, with Kramer telling her she got butchered. George is so taken aback that he faints. After they revive George, Audrey runs out of the apartment to go back to the doctor and Elaine lays into George for talking Audrey into this.
Back at Jerry’s apartment, Jerry is begging Kramer to give him the number back, but Kramer rips it to shreds and shames him for his behavior. Akiva noted that the big standing ovation Kramer got in this scene took away from it a bit. Next, George and Audrey are at the coffee shop, and Audrey is planning romantic vacations while George looks disinterested. Rob and Akiva debate why George would be “selling low” on Audrey, since she is going back to have the dent fixed soon anyway. One of George’s excuses for not going to Hawaii was that you couldn’t get him on a plane because he sees the FAA reports.
All of his excuses were not working with Audrey, so she breaks up with him, and he’s relieved. Back at Jerry’s apartment, he is working on lines with Isabel, and not helping with his sarcastic remarks. Akiva took a moment to read a few tweets from Tawny Kitaen, the actress playing Isabel. Rob thought it would be funny for Akiva to send Tawny a nice message on twitter, sure that she’ll retweet it. With a bit of hesitation, Akiva does, though he hoped it wouldn’t come up on Google if someone searched his name. While helping Isabel with her lines, Jerry starts imagining an actual chess match between his brain and his penis.
Meanwhile, Elaine and Kramer head over to the guy’s apartment to try and get the jacket back. Akiva shared his not so fun fact that the longtime character actor playing the landlord has since passed away. While the landlord shows them around the guy’s apartment, he talks about how he read Kramer, or Dr. Van Nostrand’s book. He starts to tell a story about a drunk crazy lady who used to hang out with the guy, and Kramer recognizes it’s his mother. Kramer starts to choke the landlord, which foils the whole plan.
In the next scene, we see the Jerry brain and penis chess match decided, as the brain finally wins over. Jerry then breaks up with Isabel. In the final scene at the coffee shop, Audrey comes in to say hello to Elaine, George and Jerry, and we see that her nose is completely fixed. Kramer walks up and puts his arm around Audrey, as they are off on a date to the Reggae club. The episode ends with Elaine commenting on how beautiful Audrey looks now, and George calmly telling her to shut up.
After breaking down the episode, they only had a few plot points that would not work in 2014. First, Jerry’s access to Isabel’s phone number would be harder to keep from him with modern technology. Also, a plastic surgeon wouldn’t botch a nose job so terribly, and access to FAA reports would be a whole lot easier nowadays.
As a special treat to the listeners, Akiva was able to reach out to the writer of “The Nose Job” Peter Mehlman for an interview. Rob first wanted to know how Peter got involved with Seinfeld. Peter met Larry David a few times in New York in the 80s, but ran into him in Los Angeles in 1990 and asked him to give a writing sample for this show he and Jerry were working on. Jerry loved his sample, and the rest was history.
Akiva wanted to know how the writers intermingled their ideas even though there wasn’t a traditional “writers room” for the Seinfeld production. Peter confirmed that while he wrote scripts completely on his own, Larry and Jerry had ultimate authority over it. He added that his idea for this storyline won Larry over with the Kramer line “your as pretty as those girls, you just need a nose job”.
Next Rob asked about how they came up with the style from this episode with a lot of cut away moments, similar to modern day shows like Family Guy or 30 Rock. Peter said that Larry was constantly evolving his creativity, allowing for these offbeat scenes to flourish. Akiva asked if Audrey’s nose was a prosthetic, or if they specifically put out a casting call for an actress with a large nose. Peter confirmed that it was a fake nose, and they also used fish eye camera shots to accentuate it.
Rob asked if they had an issue getting the “brain vs. penis” scene on the air, since it was quite racy for 1991. Peter felt that it was easier to get away with something sexual in nature since sex always sells. Akiva wondered what the writers would do when they weren’t handling a specific episode. Peter said that if they weren’t working on their own script for another episode, then they would wonder down to the set and just watch the process, since it was such a loose setting.
Akiva also asked where Peter came up with the line George had about going to the bathroom in front of a bunch of people and not caring. Peter remembered that Larry had told that story about his days from when he was in the Army. Peter was always keeping his eyes and ears open for little stories like that, which could turn into comedy gold. Rob went on to ask Peter which episode of Seinfeld he wrote was his favorite. Peter’s favorite was “The Implant”, feeling that it was the best job he did of the bunch, though “The Yada Yada” was right up there.
Akiva wondered how it felt to come from the world of journalism to work as a writer on a show that was one of the all time greats. Peter shared he was constantly learning new things about writing, finding he had strengths in the area of diaglogue, but was constantly growing throughout the process. He didn’t find Larry and Jerry too intimidating to pitch ideas to since he worked in his early days with Howard Cosell. He added how he still likes to write about sports even today.
Akiva asked him about a book he wrote called It Won’t Always Be This Great, which Akiva has just started to read. The book is about a Jewish podiatrist in a neighborhood full of the Orthodox, who dictate the economic success of businesses based on their religious beliefs. He had based it off of a neighborhood in Long Island he heard about this happening in. Akiva shared that he grew up in that neighborhood.
Next they asked him about his time on Joe Buck Live. Peter had helped on the show a bit, but ultimately didn’t mesh well with the safe humor they were trying to go with. He said he found their direction to be not funny, and a little insulting that Joe Buck thought he could do comedy because he would have a funny quip every so often calling a game, so he parted ways. Akiva wondered if Peter ever felt the urge to call someone out who thinks they’re funny. He doesn’t specifically point out he wrote some of the funniest Seinfeld episodes ever, but he does find it irritating that most everyone in the world tend to think they are funny.
There were a few emails sent in this week. Emailer Matt wanted to share a point about last week’s “The Tape”. He thought it wasn’t supposed to be made, but rather was going to be about Elaine purchasing a gun for self defense. Akiva confirmed that Matt had “The Tape” mixed up with “The Phone Message”, but that it was a true story.
Johnny De Silveira checked in, and wanted to know if the storyline about the jacket is in fact the longest up until this point, which Akiva confirmed yes. He also pointed out that Tawny Kitaen had been in trouble for assaulting her then beau, MLB pitcher Chuck Finley. Akiva also noted that Tawny has appeared on The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab. Then, Johnny asked if Rob and Akiva ever had reconstructive surgery, which they haven’t.
The last email comes from Chester, who said he was concerned that there were magazines pinned to the wall with safety pins. Rob and Akiva had no idea what he was talking about, but admired him for his attention to detail. Chester then asked if Audrey had stolen one of Elaine’s dresses, which neither were sure. Finally he pointed out that the Isabel story was quite similar to the Marlene story in season two. Both agreed it’s a little similar, but they had a different spin with the brain/penis chess match.
Next week, they will recap “The Stranded”, an unaired episode from season two plugged into season three’s lineup . Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast by going to postshowrecaps.com/
Special thanks to Mike Moore for this podcast recap!
Akiva’s Seinfeld Episode Rankings to Date
14 – The Library
28 – The Parking Garage
47 – The Pony Remark
75 – The Cafe
79 – The Chinese Restaurant
86 – The Pen
101 – The Deal
107 – The Nose Job <———- THIS WEEK’S ENTRY
119 – The Phone Message
126 – The Revenge
149 – The Tape
154 – The Jacket
155 – The Pilot
156 – The Busboy
157 – The Baby Shower
158 – The Truth
159 – The Note
160 – The Stakeout
161 – The Heart Attack
162 – The Apartment
164 – The Statue
165 – The Ex-Girlfriend
166 – The Robbery
168 – Male Unbonding
167 – The Stock Tip
169 – The Dog