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Jerry Seinfeld reveals amazing story behind 'genius' Jason Alexander's famous golf ball speech on ‘Seinfeld’

"The sea was angry that day, my friends" marked the beginning of George's brilliant and hilarious speech.
/ Source: TODAY

On a series filled with memorable plots and Emmy-winning performances, “Seinfeld” proved its comedic genius many times over, including with the famous episode “The Marine Biologist.”

In the fifth season episode, which aired in 1994, George (Jason Alexander) pretends to be a marine biologist in order to impress an old crush from college, while Kramer (Michael Richards) takes to hitting golf balls into the ocean. The storylines converge when George and the woman take a stroll on the beach only to come across a beached whale that he discovers has a golf ball in its blowhole after he is pressed into saving it.

George later recounts the incident while he, Kramer, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Jerry are at the coffee shop where they usually eat. He gives an impressively long monologue that begins: “The sea was angry that day, my friends.”

Jerry Seinfeld says those two plots were never supposed to connect.

“I don’t know the schedule that week, but let’s say we’re shooting it on Wednesday. It’s Tuesday,” Seinfeld said May 2 on “The Rich Eisen Show.” “We don’t have the golf ball goes into the blowhole of the whale. We don’t have it. No, it was never in the script.”

Seinfeld, whose new movie “Unfrosted” is now available on Netflix, said George’s memorable coffee shop speech was a last-minute addition.

“It was the night before we shot the scene with Jason in the coffee shop,” Seinfeld said. “I said to (show creator and writer) Larry (David), ‘Hey, what if what puts the whale in distress is Kramer’s golf ball?’ He’s hitting golf balls at the beach. George is walking on the beach with the girl. We haven’t connected them. We saw no connection the night before. We write that speech the night before at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

Seinfeld Marine Biolist episode
George and the golf ball he pulled out of the beached whale.YouTube

Seinfeld said Alexander had no issue learning the speech, even with the short time frame he was given.

“We show up the next day. We hand Jason — who’s an effing genius — we hand Jason that speech,” he said.

“How long is that speech? It’s a page, two pages. This is TV, OK? This is why film sucks. You walk up to a TV actor like Jason and you hand him 2 1/2 pages, and I go, ‘We’ve got to shoot this in a half hour. Memorize it.’ He goes, ‘No problem.’ That’s TV. That’s TV. No preciousness.”

Seinfeld said he was reacting to Alexander’s speech not as a co-star, but as a disbelieving admirer of his work, in awe that he managed to pull it off.

Marine Biologist episode
A sheepish Kramer (left) reacts while George shows him the golf ball and Jerry (right) looks on.YouTube

“When Jason’s doing the speech, this one shot, there’s one cut to me with my eyes. My eyebrows — I’m watching him. You think I’m reacting to the story. I’m reacting — I can’t believe he’s getting this speech, word perfect. That is what I’m thinking,” he said.

“I’m not even in the scene. I’m not acting. I’m just watching Jason get the speech right, in front of a live audience. OK? It’s not film. In film, movies, you screw it up and we’ll do it again. In TV, this live audience is going to hear this speech for the first time once. So you want those juicy laughs of they’re hearing these jokes the first time, and he’s getting it perfect. That is why I have that look on my face.”

Interestingly, Alexander never won an Emmy for his portrayal as George, although he did garner eight nominations. Seinfeld also never won an Emmy for acting on the show, while Richards won three times and Louis-Dreyfus won once.