Jerry Seinfeld

updated 12/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

So what's with this guy Seinfeld? Anybody know? His face has been all over the place this year. There he is on the cover of Sein-Language, a Jerry-built assembly of one-liners and monologue bits that has turned into a national best-seller. That's him grinning on boxes of Kellogg's Low Fat Granola cereal. Enter an airport, and a life-size cardboard replica of him touts the American Express card. (You really can't leave home without him.) Most conspicuously, tabloids have been chronicling his romance with a George Washington University freshman named Shoshanna Lonstein. (She's 18, he's 39.) Tom Shales, the Washington Post TV critic, warns, "He risks overexposure. He ought to cut back on those things.'' For starters, how about the Granola?...

To an audience CNNed around the clock and weary of negotiating the minefields of political correctness, Seinfeld's gently subversive humor is liberating. And Seinfeld, the hip hit NBC sitcom that prides itself on being about "nothing"—the importance of a decent haircut, a good parking space, a great massage from your girlfriend—provides the delicious escape that comes from magnifying nothing into everything. Episodes about such once-touchy subjects as masturbation, constipation and circumcision have filled the morning-after conversational void left by standard sitcom fare. Another big draw is Seinfeld himself, who, claim his friends, really is the affable, irritable, cereal-loving neatnik you see on TV Says one pal, comic Larry Miller: "Guys think he's fun to hang out with, and women say they'd love to go out with him."

Hanging out is still a major avocation. After a day on the Seinfeld set—where, as coproducer, he is undisputed master of his prime-time domain—he retreats to Jerry's Famous Deli (no relation) in Studio City, Calif., and chews the brisket with the rest of the sitcom's loopy quartet: Michael Richards (Kramer), Jason Alexander (George) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine). The show, synergistically, has propelled Seinfeld's stand-up act (32 dates booked in 1994). And in his spare time? Well, he has eight Porsches and a bedroom closet full of Nikes. When his mother, Betty, who lives in Florida, visited (his father, Kalman, a onetime sign salesman, died in 1985), she said, "I knew you'd find a way to keep wearing sneakers."

She has also met Shoshanna ("the most wonderful girl in the world," raves Seinfeld). He, in turn, has been introduced to her parents and reports, "We all get along great. I feel the age issue is forgotten." Recently he took Lonstein to Jerry's for Sunday brunch with Miller and his wife, Eileen Conn, story editor on NBC's Mad About You. Says Miller: "We all laughed, told stories and had cheesecake. Then Jerry and Shoshanna went off to play basketball." Cheesecake 'n' hoops? Somehow we see a Seinfeld episode here....

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