The Seinfeld Theme Song Really Had Nearly 200 Different Versions


Of the many comedians who’ve turned stand-up hit into sitcom stardom, Jerry Seinfeld — and his eponymous “show about nothing” — exists on a level entirely his own. First in 1989, Seinfeld Still proving to be a ratings juggernaut, Netflix reportedly paid $500 million in 2019 for the rights to broadcast the series for five years.

Since its debut, decades of fans have come to adore the explosive entrances of Cosmo Kramer, the apoplectic outbursts of George Costanza and the funky dance moves of Elaine Benes. And of course there’s Jerry, who opened most of the show’s 180 episodes with a brief stand-up routine, which set the tone for this week’s episode. The routine also influenced the style of the opening theme song, which – despite what can be remembered – was different for each episode.

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Unlike most sitcoms of the time, which typically featured lyrical theme songs, the theme of Seinfeld features a unique blend of sounds, ranging from slap bass to tongue clicks and cheek slaps. Yes, much of the sound in SeinfeldThe theme for was created by composer Jonathan Wolff, who composed the theme songs for will and grace, Who’s the boss? and Married with children, and many other well-known series. In an interview with E !, Wolff remembers getting a call from Jerry Seinfeld. According to Wolff, Seinfeld reached out because the creators behind the series were having trouble selecting a theme song for the comedian’s show. Since each episode of the show would open with a different stand-up routine, a typical score didn’t work.

To solve the problem, Wolff knew that standard instruments would not work, as they would rival the tone and timbre of Seinfeld’s voice. Instead, Wolff recorded a series of sounds he created with his mouth. Then, watching the selected stand-up, Wolff would adjust the tempo, pitch, and overall sound to match the given routine, using Seinfeld’s delivery as inspiration for the melody. Adopting a more modular concept, Wolff was able to rework the theme song each week, creating a subtly different familiar sound each time. During Seinfeld, Wolff created over 170 variations of the theme song. Interestingly, Wolff’s version of the song barely made it past NBC’s brass.

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According The Hollywood Reporter, NBC executives were not fans of the sound created by Wolff. Unsurprisingly, NBC called a meeting to discuss the song. Seinfeld co-creator Larry David invited Wolff to join him and Seinfeld at the reunion. Executives questioned the sound, asking Wolff, “‘Is that real music?” Wolff also recalled Warren Littlefield, then-president of NBC Entertainment, saying, “It’s weird. It’s distracting. It’s boring.” Littlefield’s use of the term “boring” actually saved Wolff’s concept. The composer noted that David “lives to annoy! That’s his main purpose in life!” So when discussions finally turned to changing the song, Wolff offered to give it another shot. David, however, put his foot down and insisted that Wolff’s original concept be used for the series.

In the end, those weird tongue clicks, cheek pops, and slap bass got the stamp of approval, with Wolff tweaking the song weekly to align with Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up routine. In the 2020s, when many series have completely abandoned theme songs, it’s amazing to know that Seinfeld not only had a theme song, but there were 173 versions of it!


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