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Kramer's Reality Tour

 

On the big day we and many other very excited "Seinfeld" fans gathered at the tiny Pulse Theater on West 42nd Street.  We milled around for a while, then took our seats and were entertained by a stand-in stand-up comedian, who warmed us up with jokes and introduced us to Kenny Kramer on a videotape.  Kenny rattled off congratulations to the various anniversary and birthday celebrants and then, to our delight, the big guy appeared in person.  He did some stand-up himself, then explained the logistics of the  bus tour, breaking for photographs, autographs, and a last chance for the bathroom.

During the bus tour of New York City's "Seinfeld" sites, Kenny delivers a mesmerizing motormouth monologue of quips and behind-the-scenes anecdotes.  "I lucked ass-backward into this career," he says.  "This tour is the longest I've done anything in my life." 

Kenny always wanted to be famous, and now finds he is famous not for his own talent but because he lived across the hall from someone who became famous--Larry David, co-creator of "Seinfeld" and the person whom the TV character George Costanza was modeled after.  And with his "Reality Tour" he's busy milking that association for all it's worth.  (There is a "Seinfeld" episode that pokes fun at his tour.)

Kenny has a lot to say about nothing.  About Jerry Seinfeld:  "His act is so clean it's like a giant antibiotic.  Which is not to say that his show hasn't been funny."  About Larry David:  "He is full of angst.  He has every neurosis known to man.  And he was always visiting me and taking my food."  Yada, yada, yada.

Along with more inside scoops on the "Seinfeld" characters, highlights of the bus tour include munching on refreshing Junior Mints while passing by Roosevelt Hospital (where in an episode one of those very same kind of candies wound up sewn into someone's operation), seeing The Regency movie theatre (where Jerry was busted for making out during "Schindler's List"), stopping at famous Tom's restaurant for picture-taking (on the show it is called Monk's, but in reality it is owned by Pete), and viewing the storefront of the "Soup Nazi"--who claims all this attention and resulting business is ruining his life, and who doesn't like being called a Nazi (Kenny now calls him the more politically correct "soup rat bastard").

Kenny Kramer is like no other tour guide I've ever encountered.  He manages to come across as enthusiastic even though he must, by now, be at least a teeny bit bored.  His descriptions are sprinkled with colorful expletives, and he feeds you.  During our tour he distributed free boxes of Junior Mints and ended the tour at a casual restaurant where we were all served a complimentary junk-food snack of pizza (he plans to market soon a frozen version that we fans can snack on while watching "Seinfeld" reruns), soda, and a full-size Snickers bar--meant to be eaten as per a TV episode with a knife and fork.  Yum. 

As we filed out of the restaurant at the end of the tour, we passed by an informal collection of Seinfeld items for sale.  Kenny was ensconced in the middle making change.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I had Kenny autograph the back of the red baseball cap I purchased.  His autograph now wholesales for $20, and I paid $15 for the cap, meaning, as he pointed out, that I actually got it for free and made $5 on the deal!

More Information

Kramer's Reality Tour:  800-KRAMERS, 212-268-5525.  $37.50/person.  Reservations essential.

New York City Convention & Visitors Bureau: 212-484-1222. 

Where to Stay:

West Side YMCA: 5 West 63rd St., New York, New York 10023.  Tel. 212-787-4400, Fax 212-580-0441. $64+/2 people (double rooms are equipped with bunk beds).  Located just west of Central Park, near the Museum of Natural History, this pleasant building offers bargain basement-priced accommodations.  You get a private room, but the bathroom is down the hall.  Facilities include a swimming pool and racquet ball and handball courts.  And this is where the TV Kramer in "Seinfeld" took notes on how to shower efficiently.

Where to Eat:

BOS Bar-B-Q & Noodle Shop:  930  8th Ave./West 55th St.  Tel. 212-582-8887, 212-582-0536.  This inexpensive, casual noodle shop is usually packed.  Perhaps that's because the simple soups and noodle bowls are so tasty.  But it is probably also related to the fact that it is located just around the corner from Al's Soup Kitchen International (the Soup Nazi location from "Seinfeld"), where many hungry "Seinfeld" fans turn up only to be disappointed by an often-shuttered storefront.

(Carole Terwilliger Meyers is the author of  "Weekend Adventures in San Francisco & Northern California" and " Miles of Smiles: 101 Car Games & Activities" and blogs at "Travels With Carole" )

 Copyright 2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers. 

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