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Seinfeld to Kesha: No Hugs for You!

The comedian and singer recently met at an event in D.C., and their encounter was mighty Seinfeldian

Rachel Shukert
June 09, 2017
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Jerry Seinfeld performs on stage during 10th Annual Stand Up For Heroes at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, November 1, 2016.Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Jerry Seinfeld performs on stage during 10th Annual Stand Up For Heroes at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, November 1, 2016.Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The internet loves Kesha. She’s outrageous, her songs are catchy, and she became a feminist folk hero of sorts during her protracted—and heartbreaking—court battle to free herself from an onerous contract with an allegedly abusive manager, which inspired a wave of Twitter support (#FreeKesha) for her.

As the internet loves Ke$ha, America loves Jerry Seinfeld. Even those who weren’t necessarily big fans of the show when it aired are well acquainted with his presence on the scene of our fractured national consciousness. We know well his voice and sense of humor, with its signature incredulity (“what’s the deal with… [fill in the blank]), and its air of bemused exasperation with, well, everything.

Seinfeld, to make an analogy, is the bagel of comedians—crowd-pleasing, ubiquitous, and vaguely ethnic but in a way that makes it possible to fetishize him without feeling at all threatened and/or culturally appropriative. To my knowledge, no angry Twitter mob has yet called for the closing of a less-than-authentic bagel store for stealing some bubbes secret recipe (maybe because I’ve never known a bubbe who actually knew how to make a bagel.) Point being, Seinfeld seems generally, mildly, widely beloved.

However, it may be that there’s a little more bite to Jerry Seinfeld than many may have realized—he may yet be more of a hard-boiled New York bagel—and he knows whereof I speak; let’s not forget that no less a personage than Cosmo Kramer was once an H&H employee—than a supermarket-aisle Lender’s cinnamon-raisin one (which, let’s face it, is nothing more than a dinner roll with a hole in it). And Kesha found this out the hard way this week when she asked the comedian for a hug at a red carpet event in Washington, D.C., proclaiming herself a huge fan. Feast your eyes.

Their interaction, which occurred on a day when the world seemed to be actually almost imploding (a common feeling these days), got plenty of attention to the point that Seinfeld himself felt compelled to issue a nonchalant explanation: He is 63 years old, he had no idea who she or any other up-and-coming pop star is (although he wishes her the best, because why not?), he was right in the middle of an interview, and anyway, he’s not much of a hugger.

“When you get to be my age,” Seinfeld relayed sagely to Extra, “you have your own reality. In my reality, I don’t hug a total stranger… A hug isn’t a first moment of a human, two humans. I never did that.”

That’s fair enough. Jerry Seinfeld is not obligated to dole out hugs, even to another celebrity, as though he were a costumed character at a Jewish baby boomer comedian theme park. (I would go to that theme park.) Of course, if Kesha was really the fan she claims to be, she would already know that; the famed ethos of Seinfeld being: “No hugging, no learning.” A real New York bagel doesn’t change its recipe; it is what it is. Comforting in its way, but if you don’t watch where you bite it, you could lose a tooth. Which is something for everyone to remember the next time they see Larry David at Canter’s and are tempted to ask for a kiss.

Related: Kesha, Agunah

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.

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