While he essentially played himself in acclaimed TV series Seinfeld, the man with the commitment issues who chose freedom over family really was not too far off from the real Jerry Seinfeld. That quickly changed after the show wrapped in 1998, however, as the famed comedian met and fell in love with Jessica Sklar. Having married just a year later, the two now have three children: a 16-year-old daughter Sascha, and two sons; Julian, 14; and Shepherd, 12.
Recently, a 63-year-old Jerry Seinfeld got together with MR PORTER for an intimate interview, where he discussed how to be a better parent and his kids being his toughest audience.
Below we’ve in turn highlighted some key excerpts from their conversation, as you can then follow on over to MR PORTER for the entire sit-down.
How naturally did parenting come to you?
Not naturally. There really needs to be better instructions. For relationships and for parenting. There’s a lot of very basic things that you could tell any guy who’s getting married. I would say it wasn’t until I was married 10 years that I really could put out a nice short manual that I would clip to your sleeve. Here’s what you do, here’s what you don’t do. Wifeology needs to be taught. And Dadism needs to be taught.
What advice would you offer, then?
Number one, as often as you can, say to your wife, “What can I help you with?” Until she tells you that you’re saying it too much. This is a good father and a good husband. Because you don’t know what needs doing, but there’s something. So ask. A second tip? Anything she’s holding, grab it. Take it. Obviously [if it’s] heavy. Not a phone or her glass of wine. “Right, give me that!” And don’t look for fairness.
What do you think makes a great dad?
It’s about: “I’m going to take care of you in a way you’re not even going to understand till I’m probably dead.” That to me is what being a great dad is. Just dealing with everything you have to deal with, to hang in there. You’re not going to understand your father till way, way deep in your life. You’re not going to understand what he did, the value of what he did.
Do your kids find you funny?
Yes, although they can be a tough audience. I had this joke the other day that I tried on them that I thought was really funny which was: “Here’s a statement never heard in the history of New York City: ‘Hey why don’t we get a new awning?’” They just looked at me and they went, “Dad, that’s not funny at all.” They were wrong. I tried it at a nightclub and it got a huge laugh.
Do they ever watch Seinfeld?
My daughter did and I’d watch her watching it, but I don’t know what she thought of it. And I don’t know if my sons have watched it. I’m really trying to give them just a little bit of the privacy that I had as a child. My parents had no idea what I was up to, ever. I think that’s good. They should have their own life that I don’t know anything about.
Also, be sure to check out 12 moments that prove Seinfeld’s style is still relevant today.
- Image: Mark Seliger for MR PORTER