Larry David Reveals The True Story That Inspired 'Seinfeld's' 'The Contest'

"Master of my domain"

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Masturbating! By 2017's standards it seems almost adorable—so tame and normal. It's something our president would probably talk about on the phone to a war widow at this point and no one would bat an eye. But in 1992, when Seinfeld aired the episode "The Contest," masturbating was still a pretty taboo thing to talk about on TV. That wouldn't stop Seinfeld though. Rather, the show could take unexplored territory—Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine making a bet on who could go the longest without masturbating—and turn it into one of the most iconic TV episodes of all time.

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And the story behind this bold and crazy idea is just as bold and crazy as the episode itself—complete with shocked network executives, secrecy, and plenty of people doubting creator and writer Larry David.

In a new oral history of the episode in New York Magazine, David reveals the true story behind the episode's origins and who was part of the actual contest. As he tells New York:

I can't believe I have to discuss this at my ripe age. I would say there was only one other person involved [in the actual contest]. Should I mention his name? I don't even know—my friend Frank Piazza. I don't remember what the bet was. There must have been some money involved. I think it was a small amount. [The contest lasted] two days. Maybe three. I just remember it didn't last very long. I was surprised at how quickly it ended. I won handily, yes.

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His friend, Kenny Kramer (the real Kramer) added: "I wasn't in [the contest] because I knew I would never win it." It was an idea, David said, he'd had for a long time, but never actually followed through with it because he didn't think the network would allow it. But once they finally went through with it, they got some of their biggest laughs ever on a Seinfeld episode—specifically during the moment when Kramer comes in after losing the contest.

"That got a roar. That was a huge moment when Kramer came in," David said. "That was one of the biggest laughs we ever got, I think."

From: Esquire