THE REAL KRAMER LEADS WACKY TOURS OF SEINFELD'S WORLD
He Takes Fans To The Scenes Of The TV Gang's Actual Misadventures
By Steve Veale, Special To The Star, © The Toronto Star, June 29,
NEW YORK - Yes, Newman, there really is a Kramer. Kenny Kramer, that is.
And he is alive and well and living in New York City.
That other Kramer (Cosmo), actually actor Michael Richards ("a brilliant
physical comedian," says Kenny), lives in California, where NBC produces
Seinfeld, the phenomenally popular television sitcom.
But this is the "real" Kramer who is just now starting to show
people the origins for the TV comedy based on the real-life antics of Kenny
and his friend Larry. That is Larry as in Larry David, the co-creator and
head writer of Seinfeld.
The "Kramer Reality Tour," at $37.50 U.S. per person, is a must
for anyone who watches the show. In fact, whether you're a rabid fan or
occasional viewer, this is likely the most fun you'll ever have on any three-hour
Every Saturday and Sunday, at noon and 4 p.m., a small group gathers at
the John Houseman Theater on 450 West 42nd St. (and 10th) where Kenny and
his buddy Bobby Allen Brooks introduces you to the background of Larry,
Kenny, various unnamed friends and their years of fun-filled "nothing"
that spawned TV's Seinfeld.
The characters simply mirror the lives and antics of Kenny and Larry, who
lived next door to each other for many years - as do television's Kramer
Affectionately described by Kenny as a "total; neurotic," Larry
David was asked by Jerry Seinfeld to help create the sitcom because he felt
Larry's comedic talents would supply "the weird edge" that the
It is an edge that has become even sharper and more darkly comic over the
past eight top-of-the-ratings seasons.
In fact, to demonstrate how perceptively neurotic he is, Larry David actually
wrote himself into the cast as the self-absorbed neurotic George Costanza
- and who in his right mind would admit to being George? (Actually, both
Kenny and Larry bear a striking resemblance to their TV personas - except
Kenny sports long flowing hair, not the electric shock look of the TV Kramer.)
Larry and Kenny still talk a couple of times each week so the writer can
keep in touch with his New York roots and discuss those memories that appear
weekly in the show.
After a very funny warm-up session, with background stories by Kenny and
a 1984 video tape of Larry David performing a monologue for comedy host
Richard Belzer (where you will first hear the famous line "You think
you can just treat your body like an amusement park" that will later
resurface on a classic - perhaps the classic - Seinfeld show), the happy
crowd fills the new 26-seater bus for a tour of Seinfeld sites.
Kenny takes you to the scenes of the actual misadventures - these are the
show's recognizable exterior shots taken by a camera crew then meshed with
the interior California studio tapings. You are even welcomed aboard with
a video message from (Hizzoner) NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
"See right here?" points out Kenny. "Joe's Fruits? That's
where the TV Kramer was banned for trying to return some plums. It is also
the same market that Larry was expelled from for squeezing the fruit. Yup,
he and Joe the owner had a big shouting match right on the street."
Then there is the Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club, where Elaine lent and lost
a borrowed racquet to a book editor she was trying to impress; the West
side YMCA where Jerry met the Mets' Keith Hernandez; the lot at 11th and
45th where George finally found a parking space - and Kramer was arrested
on pimping charges.
And Champagne Video where George first met Susan; the Sony Theaters where
they all seem to meet for various movie misadventures - be it spilling mustard
or winning coffee for life - and who could forget the Roosevelt Hospital,
where Baby Seven was born, where Kramer met the "pig-faced man,"
where Elaine had her rabies shot and, perhaps one of the funniest shows,
when Kramer popped the Junior Mint into a patient on the operating table.
(Kenny also hands out Junior Mints to all his passengers.)
The best is yet to come, however; a stop at the show's most famous landmark
on the corner of Broadway and 112th St. - "Tom's Restaurant,"
the TV gang's favorite meeting spot. Though in the series you see only
the exterior sign reading Restaurant - the word Tom's is off camera - every
Seinfeld aficionado knows this is 'Tom's," which is really run by
a guy named Pete (Panagiotis Papaharalambous), known in the show as Monk.
The interior is all Hollywood studio, although the real Tom's serves up
great coffee and burgers. And, of course, a salad for Kramer.
For the best food, though, wait for the next stop - the Soup Nazi's Kitchen.
Oh yes, it does exist. A little hole in the wall at 55th and 8th, filled
with huge four-foot high gleaming soup pots, and run by - just like his
TV counterpart - the very unfriendly, unsmiling (and proud of it) Al "The
He does, however, make terrific soup - the Portobello mushroom I had was
thick, rich and tangy - but then for $6 U.S. for a small coffee cup size,
it had better be. You can also get fruit and a roll if you know the proper
way of ordering from Al; for the secret, however, you will have to ask Kramer.
Then, finally, back to Kenny's apartment complex at the Manhattan Plaza
- a subsidized project for those in the performing arts - for some Kramer
special vegetarian pizza, a Snickers bar and Coke at the Cafe Saint Francis,
where the tour ends with a video of some fabulously funny Seinfeld outtakes.
These are just a few of the highlights of the tour but nothing can adequately
describe the fun you will have and the stories you will hear with Kenny
and buddy Bobby on the "Kramer Reality Tour." The next time you
are headed for the Big Apple, book this tour in advance. Actually, book
the tour first before it gets filled and then plan your trip to New York.
After all, there is only one real Kramer and one really terrific Kramer