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Jerry Seinfeld in August wrote a scathing rebuke to a comedy club owner who said New York City is “dead” due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. And he would do it again, that is how strongly he feels.
Talking with 60 Minutes for Sunday’s episode, the comic and actor said he simply cannot stomach the notion that NYC is incapable of rebounding once the pandemic has ended.
“When you were a kid, remember kicking over the anthill? That’s what just happened to us. They just kicked over the whole anthill,” Seinfeld tells Jon Wertheim. “And what do the ants do? ‘All right. Hand me the next crumb. Let’s get back to work.’”
The sitcom icon made headlines when he wrote his fiery response in the New York Times to a piece penned by hedge-fund manager and author, James Altucher. Seinfeld said the “putz” Altucher could not be more wrong in his assertion. “Oh, shut up. Imagine being in a real war with this guy by your side. Listening to him go, ‘I used to play chess all day. I could meet people. I could start any type of business.’ Wipe your tears, wipe your butt and pull it together.” Seinfeld wrote then.
About his decision to respond, Seinfeld says, “I didn’t like that nobody was rebutting it. Then I realized, ‘Oh, I guess that’s my job.’ Somebody — a real New Yorker — has to answer this.”
Telling Wertheim he does not have a personal grudge against Altucher for the piece, Seinfeld did note he was not sorry he called him a “putz” in his rebuttal. “That’s who that guy is for the rest of his life,” the comic quipped. “‘Oh, look who’s here. The putz from LinkedIn.’”
In his opinion, NYC is about grit, which does not simply go away when times are difficult, Seinfeld tells 60 Minutes. “I just don’t want New Yorkism to die. I don’t want it to be replaced by deep concern and over-sentimentality. You can have those things, but be a little badass, too. We don’t care if things are tough. Everything is always tough. It’s tough to live here.”
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