For a comedy, Seinfeld could get pretty dark. Take Susan’s death in “The Invitations” episode that aired during Season 7. Outside of her parents, no one shows anything resembling empathy. Or how about “The Limo,” when George and Jerry have to pretend to be Holocaust-denying Neo-Nazis? And, good Lord, watch this clip of Elaine with a phone company worker:
And yet, because those scenes take place in a fantasy world, wholly separate from our own, we’re able to experience them as pure, escapist humor. But what would happen if Seinfeld dealt with real tragedy?
That’s what SNL and The Onion contributor Billy Domineau tried to find out. Domineau, who’s contributed jokes to “Weekend Update,” tweeted this Tuesday:
Hi. I wrote a 9/11 episode of Seinfeld. I'd love for you to read and enjoy and hate me for it. https://t.co/Jq8JhFRxCv
— Billy Domineau (@BillyDomineau) August 2, 2016
Yes, that’s right. Three years after the show’s run ended, Domineau imagined George, Jerry, Kramer, and Elaine being their normal, petty selves in the wake of the largest loss of life in American history. And guess what? It’s hilarious. And it works because the jokes are on the characters and not on the tragedy itself.
In the script, Domineau, who is clearly an attentive watcher of the show, does what, coincidentally, The Onion did so well in the wake of 9/11. Without making loss of life into the joke, the episode (called “The Twin Towers,” naturally) deals with such major league pettiness as:
— Elaine being frustrated over the miraculous survival of a man she was trying to break up with. His death, she explains, would have provided an escape hatch from potential awkwardness.
— Jerry fretting about the persistent presence of dust, to the extent that he gets rid of every piece of clothing he owns and refuses to kiss a woman with a fleck of dust on her teeth.
— George envying the opportunity for heroism that police and firefighters were provided with, then taking credit for saving people from the rubble, which, obviously, backfires.
— Kramer attempting to get a government check for lost property, that property being a box cutter he lent to his friend “Mo Atta.”
The script can be read in full here. See if Domineau doesn’t have you laughing. Here’s a sample:
Kramer, he just crashed a plane into
the World Trade Center! He slit the
pilots’ throats with a box-cutter!
Not “a” box-cutter – MY box-cutter. He
borrowed it last week!