Marriage tips from the stars: Seinfeld's greatest joke yet?

Comedian returns with show that sees 'real couples' air their problems for laughs

Jerry Seinfeld was not joking when he approached NBC, the network where his eponymous comedy sitcom reigned supreme for nine years until 1998, and proposed a reality show with Hollywood stars giving ordinary folks tips on resolving marital conflicts. Celebrities advising us on staying married? That's funny.

But, no, seriously. This is the concept of the programme tentatively titled The Marriage Ref, which NBC has just signed up for six one-hour episodes this autumn. It's hard to resist Mr Seinfeld, however odd his idea might be. After all, he has not had a regular television gig for 11 years.

Over at 30 Rockefeller Centre, they want us to know that a show about marriage is his obvious next step. His old comedy show – famously "about nothing" – was really about making fun of the bachelor lives he led with his pals Kramer, George and Elaine.

It should be seen, in other words, as a sequel. "It's not a therapy show, it's a comedy show," Seinfeld, 54, said of the project, which will be created in partnership with Ellen Rakieten, a veteran producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

"After nine years of marriage, I have discovered that the comedic potential of this subject is quite rich. Some of the greatest comedies in the history of television have been around marriage," insisted Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment. "The concept is so universal and accessible, and obviously it works so well when it comes from somebody with a point of view – and nobody has a stronger point of view on this subject than Seinfeld."

What Jerry's insight on marriage might be, none of us yet know, beyond that he thinks weddings are hugely overrated. That was the theme of a recent stand-up routine he gave on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "It's a bad party. It's long, expensive, boring, uncomfortable. If you were going to plan a good party would you invite all the oldest people you know?" he asked.

It is true, meanwhile, that the background to his own marriage nine years ago to his own wife, Jessica, was a tad unusual. She got hitched in June 1998 to someone else, then met Seinfeld at a Manhattan gym shortly after returning from her honeymoon, and got a divorce from hubby number one in October 1998 in time to marry her funny man Jerry the following year. They now have three children.

And it is no secret that marriage can be a deep quarry for comedy. Basil-versus-Sybil, Lucy-versus-Ricky and so on. On Seinfeld itself, the parents of George Costanza, Frank and Estelle, played by Jerry Stiller (father of Ben) and Estelle Harris, provided their own running pantomime of spousal spats.

But if these battles royal work well in drama or situation comedies, peeking into the disputes of real-life couples may not be quite so hilarious.

But NBC seems content to let Seinfeld give it a try, even if we know very little about the precise format. It would seem, however, that each hour will feature one or more "ordinary American couple" and a panel of entertainment and sports stars advising them. A referee will then end each episode deciding which person, husband or wife, is in the wrong.

The biggest unknown is what part Seinfeld will play. His rare gigs in recent years have left fans hoping he will have an on-screen role in The Marriage Ref. But he is giving nothing away.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas