Kramer vs. Kramer


It is, according to the real Kramer, art imitating art imitating
life. Twenty-five people, at $27.50 a pop, agreed. And so it was that
Kenny Kramer, the slightly twisted prototype for the wildly popular
"Seinfeld" character, attracted a busload of folks Saturday to hear his
take on the show's take on life in New York City.
Your host: The 52-year-old Kramer, who lived across the hall from
"Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David for 10 years. David based the TV
character, played by Michael Richards, on his peculiar neighbor; with
the show now in seventh season, Kenny shamelessly decided to cash in.
Why now? Here's the word from Kramer himself, who bears a slight
physical resemblance to his television self (although the pair never met
until 35 episodes were done).
"Michael Richards is tired of being Kramer," he explained in a
rapid-fire voice. "Now that he's so wildly popular, he wants to move on
to other roles. So there's a Kramer job opening. Who better than me to
get it the second time around?"
The real Kramer had been an enigma until going public this weekend
with the misnamed "Kramer Reality Tour." It was more a journey into the
surreal, mingling actual Manhattan locations with fictitious characters
and events that only occurred on a California sound stage.
Stops included the New York Health and Racquet Club, where Kramer
saw Salman Rushdie. And the eatery run by the "Soup Nazi" on 55th
Street. And the East Side YMCA, where Jerry met Keith Hernandez. Real
places. Bogus incidents. All narrated by the actual Kramer, whose
employment history includes manufacturing disco jewelry, managing a
reggae band and doing stand-up.
The prospect of touring Manhattan with Kramer lured an eclectic
crew: A Long Island couple celebrating their 30th anniversary. A
Maryland college student obsessed with the show. A Bronx woman brought
by her son as a 65th birthday present.
"We watch religiously every Thursday," said Alan Lehrman of Great
Neck, marking three decades with wife Carol. "But we're not only Kramer
fans. We're fans of all of 'em."
Lehrman was one of several people who called Kramer's toll-free
number - 1-800-KRAMERS - and were shocked when Kramer himself
answered the phone.
Kramer hosted a pair of sold-out bus trips on Saturday and
yesterday; the weekend tours are booked for the next month. The entire
plan reeked of the TV Kramer's kooky get-rich-quick schemes, and it
featured some nice Kramer-esque touches.
The tour bus parked illegally, reminiscent of a "Seinfeld" episode
where Kramer convinces George to park in a handicapped spot. And Kramer
himself was five minutes late, ducking through a door at the John
Houseman Theater in a style similar to Richards' often-hysterical

Copyright 1996, Newsday Inc.

Kim, Rose, Kramer vs. Kramer., Newsday, 01-29-1996, pp A20.


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