How The Grip Poled Festivus

It was a show that was much ado about nothing. You’re probably thinking Shakespeare. Uh, no. I’m talking Seinfeld.

But in contemporary terms, this iconic TV show probably bred more fans than, and may have left the world a legacy as monumental (we’re not comparing literary genre) as the ol’ Bard himself. Many terms from its episodes have etched themselves forever in the Western psyche – think The Puffy Shirt, Soup Nazi, The Pick, and the unforgettable Master of your Domain?dsc07610-001

What about Festivus? Celebrated on December 23rd, this nonsensical holiday conjured up by Seinfeld scriptwriters, entered popular culture when it aired during the 1997 episode called The Strike (on a set festooned mostly with Stars of David and assorted Hanukkah paraphernalia – no surprise, given the show’s decidedly New-York-Jewish shtick); and has lingered on, some would say, until this very day.

dsc07605-001One of those who would say so is Michael Burns, a television-jack-of-all-trades over the two decades during which he worked in the industry (and now a creative content & writing consultant). Throughout his TV career, he juggled many hats – including a stint on the Seinfeld show. Turns out that, not only was Burns a key grip on the show’s last season, but his claim to fame (so to speak) on The Strike episode was crafting himself the aluminum pole that George’s father presents to everyone as the chief symbol of the holiday; ostensibly, a more favourable – and far less commercial! – alternative to the (ahem, Christmas) tree. A pole, I might add, that is left untrimmed, un-decorated and unconnected to any source of power.dsc07607-001

Well last night being the Eve of Festivus, (at least so it was Ubud’s legendary co-working space Hubud), we were treated to an evening of Burns, giving us the lowdown about Seinfeld, screening The Strike episode and talking showbiz. He orated about the origin of Festivus, but also shared some behind-the-scenes trivia; Jerry – hard-working boss; Julia – whenever she broke down in a fit of unstoppable giggles, filming would pause for 20 minutes; George – who knew his lines inside and out; Kramer – who’d be practicing his characteristic comic entrances in a dark corner of the set until called onto the set.

In the spirit of Festivus, all those gathered had the opportunity to engage in one of the episode’s traditions; namely, the Airing of Grievances. Beer & pizza was served. (No, Virginia, there was no pole-dancing.) And this being Bali, Burns presented a local version of the Festivus pole that he crafted for the occasion (sort of).. naturally, it was made of bamboo.

Wishing a happy & Seinfeldian Festivus to all.. and to all a good night!


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