Sitcom fans the world over fall in one of the two categories ““ those who have heard of Seinfeld and those who love the show! In 1989, producers Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld went on to create this comedy sitcom that aired for 9 years straight. The show went off-air in 1998 at #1 in the Nielsen ratings. But, the praises did not stop there. In 2013, TV Guide positioned Seinfeld as ‘The Greatest Show of All Time’. And when it’s about Seinfeld, there’s one name that’s hard to forget ““ Cosmo Kramer.
Cosmo Kramer or ‘Kramer’ lived next door to our main character, Jerry Seinfeld. Unlike the other characters, details of Kramer’s childhood or family were never revealed. Subtle mentions throughout the show hint that he ran away from home at 17, never finished school, served in the army and lived in Los Angeles for a brief period. Kramer’s mother, Barbra, was the only known family member. Kramer shares a close friendship with Jerry, George Costanza, Elaine Benes and, funnily enough, Jerry’s arch enemy, Newman.
Tall, lanky, dishevelled with upright hair, worn-out retro clothes, a hoarse voice and strong love for Cuban cigars and fresh fruit ““ Kramer’s shabby appearance made this character hard-to-miss. Very often, Kramer’s comedy was physical. He would burst into Jerry’s apartment, a move that became his signature entry for years to come. His pratfalls – while keeping a straight face throughout – had audiences in splits.
Kramer had a penchant for coming up with radical money-making schemes. His apartment was often used to carry out several ‘destined-to-fail’ experiments. Kramer’s brutal honesty never got him in trouble, but it always managed to ruin things for his friends. In spite of his eccentric ways, Kramer was perhaps the most social of all four friends and he was surprisingly influential. He was indifferent to social norms, even dressing etiquettes, and yet had several acquaintances and accomplices. His association with mailman Newman had to have been the mostÂ random and funniest of all his alliances.
Kramer is one of the most complex characters in the history of comedy sitcoms. While often called an offensive brute, he was quirky and whimsical, even emotional, never failing to help out his friends when they needed him. For instance, he was more than willing to spend the night out on the street to watch over Elaine’s antique almirah. Kramer seemed to get along with almost anyone. Even the dreaded ‘Soup Nazi’ liked his company! He was also known to get along famously with George’s father, Frank Costanza, with whom he invented a male brassiere, better known as “the manssiere.”
Kramer was empathetic and righteous at times too. At one point, he said he would be willing to turn in Jerry, his best friend, if he happened to murder someone. Perhaps, Kramer’s large circle could be credited to his caring and kind-hearted nature, which sometimes made him help out even total strangers.
Although Kramer was written as an introvert in the initial script, the character later evolved into a more outgoing and radical one.
Larry David created Kramer’s character based on his own neighbour, Kenny Kramer. Kenny was known to be just as eccentric and bizarre. However, Larry was reluctant to use Kenny’s name in his show. Cosmo Kramer was initially named Cosmo Kessler, but it was later revealed in the show that Cosmo’s last name was actually ‘Kramer’ and that ‘Kessler’ was just a typo on his intercom buzzer. So, Larry must have found a way to deal with Kenny.
Michael Richards played the much loved Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld. He began his career as a stand-up comedian and debuted primetime on the Billy Crystal TV Special. He was also a cast member on ABC’s Fridays ““ a television show written by Larry David.
In an interview with Access’ Billy Bush, Richards said that he found Kramer’s character extremely interesting and the thought of a ‘weirdo living next door’ appealed to him. He invented the entire look for Kramer and made every attempt to spice things up in order to give the audience more than what was written.
Richards went on to win more Emmys than any other cast member for Seinfeld. He was awarded for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series’ in 1993, ’94 and ’97.
The audience loved Kramer. In fact, his character became a highlight for Seinfeld. Richards managed to use his hoarse voice and physical comedy to bring out Kramer brilliantly. He appeared in all but 2 episodes of the entire show. His loud catchphrases like ‘Hoochie Mama’ and ‘Yippe Yi Yeah’ are still popular. Kramer’s easy and impulsive life was a constant source of humour. As George Costanza rightly commented, “Kramer’s whole life is a fantasy camp!” This is one character that will always be remembered.