“You are the doofus.”
October 2, 2010

A syllable-smacking put-down for when you must call someone’s attention to their poor performance (and there’s no better way to get someone’s attention than to call them by name).

Elaine’s sudden appointment to the head of the clothing-catalog company where she worked inflicted her with doubt about her abilities–doubt that Jerry seconded but Kramer karate-chopped with Zen-like confidence. With that confidence now her own as her business took off, Elaine got Jerry on the phone to inform him that he’d just usurped the throne of Kramer, long since crowned the “hipster doofus.”

What’s in a name? “Aloof,” “goof,” and “genius”–that’s what’s in this name. Yes, genius. Kramer’s bulb sometimes shone dimly, but it shone brightly just as well (e.g., inventing a beach-smelling cologne that Calvin Klein picked up). And that gives you total name-calling immunity with this moniker. If the recipient is a genius, you’re reminding him that he too is human–prone to doofus-ness. If he happens to be a doofus, then you’re not just telling it like it is, you’re telling him there’s hope–hope that there might be genius in there, waiting to appear. Either way you’re golden, because this isn’t “constructive criticism,” as they say; this is a critical compliment.

And all hail Kramer for giving us a better oxymoron.

From “The Foundation”
Episode 1, Season 8
Seinfeld Volume 7, Disc 1
Timecode for the scene: 16:13

“Kudos, Elaine on a job…done.”
July 7, 2010

A massive shout-out to use on those who foul-ball on a job you asked them to do–and you weren’t even asking them to hit it out of the park, just get it on the field.

J. Peterman, Elaine’s boss, had just returned to the helm of his adventure-chic clothing-catalog company after leaving Elaine in charge while he got over a little case of Office Space. When he saw that Elaine’s biggest decision precipitated fashion disaster, this was his summary reply–delivered in the same room-filling, syllable-smacking voice he used to say just about anything (e.g., “Elaine…you’ve got to see The English Patient“).

Fill the room with your voice when you say it–the more flourish, the better, to give it that Peterman-ian flair–and don’t forget to give a full pause between the words “job” and “done.” Volume is not the point here; calling attention to the one word you’re leaving out of this universal courtesy is.

From “The Money”
Episode 13, Season 8
Seinfeld Volume 7, Disc 3
Timecode for the scene: 15:44

“Well then I was WAAAY off!”
July 6, 2010

A boisterous comeback to use on those who come to you for advice then it backfires on them–and now they are looking at you, with the flames of that backfire in their eyes.

Kramer did this to Elaine after she questioned her abilities as the newly-crowned head of her clothing-catalog company. Kramer exhorted her and she ate it up, the slack-jawed audience to his motivational speaker. On the winds of Kramer’s inspiration, Elaine soared…with all the aerodynamics of a flying candy apple. “You told me I could run the company!” she turned on Kramer, after her crash and burn. Kramer countered with all the subtlety of a man with a bullhorn.

Use with confidence on anyone who listens to what you had in mind and now they’d like to give you a piece of their mind. To acquaintances and strangers, this is the confidence that says “It wasn’t my advice, it was your failure!” To family and friends, this is the confidence that says “Why did you listen to me in the first place? You know me!”

From “The Foundation”
Episode 1, Season 8
Seinfeld Volume 7, Disc 1
Timecode for the scene: 20:20

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