Customer Reviews: My Seinfeld Year (Kindle Single)
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on January 19, 2012
As a huge "Seinfeld" fan, I thought this short read was a great inside look at the show. The history and actual goings-on of the show are usually dressed up and presented in the best light. The DVDs, commentaries, interviews, etc all portray the show as a wildly happy place, where everyone got along and made TV history. The only slight hiccup that sometimes pops up will be when someone, usually a cast member, will off handedly refer to Michael Richards as being "quirky" or "different", which by now I take to mean that he was a real a-hole.

Stollers essay is funny, sad and perfectly introspective. It helps if you recognize him from the episode he guest starred, it makes understanding his personality a little easier. But, needless to say, Stoller didn't have the easiest time as a staff writer. He didn't mesh well with the other writers, Seinfeld and Larry David were too busy running the show to help guide him, and one jealous and insecure writer, referred to as "Perry", actively tried to sabotage his experience.

In short, this is a great read for any Seinfeld fan. The inside look into the show is seemingly unbiased, reflective and realistic. It's totally different from the way the DVDs portrayed the show and the interpersonal relationships, but it isn't tabloid-y or seems like it was made for a quick buck. It certainly feels real and raw, and I think that is a rarity for any of the products that came out of the show. I ended up feeling bad for Fred, and I hope things stay productive for him. This essay was really quite touching.

As a last question, I really want to know who "Perry" is. Stoller wrote for Season 6, and he names a lot of people, eliminating them. Berg, Schaffer, Robin and Kavet would have been the "college kid" writers, so that leaves Bruce Kirschbaum, Bill Masters and Bob Shaw as potential candidates. Personally, I'd probably lean towards Kirschbaum. Unless "Perry" never finished the script he was working on all year...
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on January 25, 2012
Super lean and all-funny prose makes Mr. Stoller's account of life as an actor/writer a total kick in the pants and a real pleasure to read. There is literally no "filler" in this book, no sections that lag. It seems to be constructed of 'only the good parts' -in a good way. The Sienfeld stuff really satisfies and is bookmarked by some of his experiences as a working actor told in a funny and very human way. Highly recommended.
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on January 21, 2012
Fred's account of his time as a writer on Seinfeld not only covers the emotions, struggles and triumphs of that writing position but shows glimpses of his family, his childhood and his personality. I wish this were, not just a Kindle Single, but an entire autobiography from birth to the present because it is refreshingly honest and impossible to stop reading. I can sense that there are countless stories and characters from Fred's life that are lurking just out or reach, beyond this downloadable snippet, that I'd gladly follow to embrace the honest laughs and the empathetic sighs. Some of the details and moments that Fred decribe are wonderfully woven with complicated emotions in one short narrative, one instance and sometimes even one sentence. That's the definition of great writing.
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on January 29, 2012
I've been a big Fred Stoller fan since his stand up days. Anytime I've seen him on TV I've thought, "I wanna see more of this guy... why don't they USE him more!" He's brilliant at what he does & I don't even think he has to try that hard. I loved the book... some truly funny anecdotes and very interesting reading about the stresses involved in being a TV writer. The inside revelations on the inner workings of Seinfeld were great. The only thing missing from this book: I would have loved to have come away with a little more insight into how Fred became Fred... the best parts of the book for me were when he talked about his mother and how he grew up. I also thought the book ended a little too abruptly. Still, a VERY fun read and anyone should get a kick out of the book, not just Seinfeld or Stoller fans. Thanks, Fred, for all the entertainment over the years.
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VINE VOICEon January 23, 2012
Maybe he's just cracking another joke but Fred Stoller says that rather than tell her friends her son is a comedian, his mother says he's retarded.

She is the same person who asks him how he is going to make people laugh when he always seems to be so depressed. And insecure, so unsure of himself and so shy that at 17 he once practically needed to ask permission to enter a supermarket, he says.

That's the self-deprecating tone of this memoir, a tale more wistful and questioning than funny. Stoller is the clown wearing a sad face.

While waiting in the wings of the Disney teen show "Wizards of Waverly Place," on which he has the small part of a doorman, Stoller sums up his career trajectory, "Wow, here I am, the 52-year old guest star wearing a Pee Wee Herman bellhop uniform and a monkey cap."

He's been a trouper, selling laughs playing the role of a schnook in off-kilter parts for decades. "When people stop me at the mall and demand to know where they know me from, usually it's as Elaine's annoying date on `Seinfeld', Ray's mopey cousin on `Everybody Loves Raymond,' or the jerky waiter on `Friends.'"

And then there's 1994, the year he spent around the table as a writer on "Seinfeld," sitting in the same room with the other sitcom writers, producer Larry David and Jerry, the man, himself. One of the first things Jerry commented by way of greeting was "nice belt." Stoller never wore the belt to work again. The next day and for the rest of the week, Jerry asked, "Where's the belt?"

Most of Stoller's story is a behind-the-scenes look at "Seinfeld." It's a fascinating peek behind the curtain and at the creative process. Each show started with an idea, a pitch. A friend has bulked up so much he can't wear his expensive Armani suit any longer. He gives the suit to Jerry and all he asks for in return is that Jerry buys him dinner sometime. Trouble is, they have opposing ideas on what exactly constitutes a dinner. After the pitch is approved, the writer develops four stories connected to the central idea and involving Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. Everything gets revised, revised again and eventually approved by Larry and Jerry and the 22-minute show gets taped.

Stoller spent the year helping create classic television. It was a year he'll never forget. The first time his mother saw his name in the opening credits as screen writer she described the experience as "mind bottling."

Stoller has continued working but that was the peak. He's still out there acting and wearing those funny hats, hoping to earn some more laughs. "I get enough work to not quit, but never enough to feel I can take a deep breath and stop struggling."

If you're a "Seinfeld" fan, read the memoir. It also offers some heartfelt expression of how hard it is to be funny. And how it's even more difficult to impress your mother.
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on February 6, 2012
A quick, easy read, Fred Stoller's "My Seinfeld Year" is a wistful reminiscence that achieves a kind of deadpan resonance. It never steps on its jokes to drive them home, nor forces its small dramas and introspection to bear more weight than they deserve. Stoller introduces us to not just himself but his character as he unfolds his story, and his story and character are a near perfect match for the other. They make each other seem inevitable.

Is Stoller pushy, or even just assertive when he needs to be? Well, not really, and especially not if it would bother you. Does he then, by contrast, take care to play his cards close to his chest when he needs to? Well, you have to give him credit for doing it almost in time to matter and then making the most of hindsight.

Stoller's shyness and gentle foibles make for a memoir with an unassuming charm that relies as much on character as event. Clever but not wicked, circumspect while spilling enough beans to provoke laughs and reward the curious, "My Seinfeld Year" mixes good nature with humor and a lightly elegaic tone. After I finished it, I couldn't help but think of Kermit the Frog singing "It's not easy being green." The story ends on a wonderful note that echoes the bemused, mature acceptance of both Stoller and our dear Kermit. It's not easy being Stoller. But he makes you like reading about it.
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VINE VOICEon February 7, 2012
It would be cool to act and/or write for a living, but I'm too addicted to structure and a steady paycheck to pursue either creative activity as a profession. After discovering that "My Seinfeld Year" concerns a man struggling to make ends meet in both fields, I was intrigued enough to make the purchase. I'm glad I did, because it's an entertaining and informative read.

Fred Stoller's been a character actor/bit player in various sitcoms over the years. He's usually the annoying shlub that propels the plot by butting heads with the main stars. One fateful day, Mr. Stoller impresses Larry David and ends up landing a coveted writer's slot on "Seinfeld." Hijinks ensue as another writer becomes his nemesis and he competes with his colleagues for facetime with "Larry and Jerry" to pitch story lines.

"My Seinfeld Year" would have been a great full-length memoir, but the short is certainly worth your time. The behind-the-scenes look at "Seinfeld" is worth the price alone, and Mr. Stoller's pursuit of his passions through thick and thin is intriguing as well. He got into show business via stand-up comedy, and he's certainly taken a number of hard knocks from acting and writing, but he manages to endure and maintain a good attitude. Highly recommended.
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on January 28, 2012
Mr. Stoller's recounting of the year he worked with the writers for Seinfeld is interesting and entertaining, however, it is he who is such a compelling figure. He is an unknowing "Cool Hand Luke", a Christ figure. He is the voice of the meek and mild in a world where only the bold and beautiful survive. He keeps getting knocked down and we desperately need him to keep getting up.
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on February 8, 2012
This short, snarky, self-depreciating book is tight and entertaining. I came away from it with great respect for the author as a comedian and performer, and especially as a writer. Stoller can clearly see his own neuroses and those of the people around him, especially his mother and Larry David. There's great freedom in being able to observe those things! Whatever Fred Stoller writes in the future, I will read it!

Only downside: A few confusing typos. That's the price of self-publishing, I guess...
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on February 2, 2012
I ordered this little book after listening to Fred Stoller interviewed on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. I'm glad I did. The anecdotes are a must for any Seinfeld, or Curb, fan, but what is really engaging is Stoller's honest, sincere, and open writing style. He comes of as an thoughtful and gentle man, something that's not always easy to do in a memoir, especially one that so openly discusses what the author sees as his own shortcomings. I believe this is an excerpt of a longer work (unpublished or published and out of print, I don't know) but I certainly hope Stoller will put out more books and stories. A very entertaining writer. More like this, please.
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