While on the set of Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place, after being taught how to dougie by Selena Gomez, Fred Stoller is giving career advice to Justin Henrie about auditioning. While realising he’s in a bellhop costume with a tiny hat for a few days of guest star work, Stoller came to the conclusion that the hit teen actor didn’t need advice from the prolific guest star.
That kicks off Stoller’s memoir, My Seinfeld Year, as he recalls how he began as a stand-up comedian to guest starring actor till finally getting a 40-week contract to write on Seinfeld as well as the fallout afterwards.
Fred Stoller is very much the Samuel L Jackson of guest starring, pay enough attention and you’ll notice he’s been on everything. Either the miserable relative, an awkward bystander, a Pooterish clerk or the jerky waiter on Friends, you will find Stoller’s name somewhere in the credits and somewhere in the back of your memory.
Personally, I know him as the Bellhop from Wizards of Waverly Place (because of my little sister), Elaine’s date on Seinfeld as well as a dozen other television, and movie appearances.
I found ‘My Seinfeld Year’ fascinating to listen and found myself hooked straight away. Much like the characters he plays, his practically trademarked melancholy mood and lack of confidence has followed him as he performs his memoir wonderfully. The memoir was very blunt, honest and pokes fun to what a psychologist would call a terrible childhood and a gold mine.
For Seinfeld fans, Stoller gives you a glimpse into what it was like to write for Seinfeld. It’s very much like Lord of the Flies but with more cereal and less roast boar. He talks about the process of how someone became a writer on the show, how a script was created and how his own life experiences became stories in one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.
One of my favourite parts of the book is when he retells a childhood memory of wanting to open a lemonade stand. Only his mother was worried whether it would succeed or not, discouraging him from doing something all children do, citing “What would happen if you go under!?”
I’ve been there. I’m still kind of there.
Fred Stoller’s performance of his memoir is one of his best. His Brooklyn accent and persona really bring this audiobook to life, bringing depth to the highs and lows of his career.
An utterly charming, funny memoir that I cannot recommend more.
P.S. I wished he would just grab Perry by the shoulders and rattle him like a snow globe, telling him to get a grip and this isn’t ‘Nam! Listen to My Seinfeld Year and you’ll understand.