12 ‘Seinfeld’ Jokes You Need Wikipedia to Understand Today

Keith Who-Nandez?
12 ‘Seinfeld’ Jokes You Need Wikipedia to Understand Today

Given Seinfeld’s seemingly infinite pop-culture resonance, we tend to think of the show as “timeless,” but there are some jokes and moments that certainly date it. Like, when’s the last time you called Moviefone to see what was playing on the big screen? Or enjoyed a bucket of Kenny Rogers’ chicken? 

While the show has had staying power, not every joke and reference has stayed relevant. In fact, here are 12 Seinfeld jokes you just might need Wikipedia to decipher… 

Click right here to get the best of Cracked sent to your inbox.

‘Right, Koko, That Chimp’s Alright’

Twice during Season Nine, characters in Seinfeld refer to Koko, a gorilla that knew sign language and that lived from 1971 until 2018. George’s nickname becomes “Koko the Monkey” in the episode “The Maid,” and in “The Dealership,” Puddy says, “Right, Koko, that chimp’s alright” to Jerry. Normally, I wouldn’t be such a pedant, but since that’s kind of the point of this whole thing, I can’t help but point out that Koko was a gorilla, meaning she wasn’t a monkey or a chimp

‘What the Hell Did You Trade Jay Buhner For?’

When George Steinbrenner tells the Costanzas that George is dead, Frank Costanza takes the opportunity to shout at Steinbrenner, “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?” Buhner was a right fielder for the Yankees who was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 1988. The line is even funnier when you realize that this episode aired in 1996, meaning that Frank was angry about this for nearly a decade. 

‘It’s Not Like a Sunny von Bülow Coma’

When Jerry visits a guy in a coma, he says to the victim’s girlfriend, “It’s not too bad. It’s not like a Sunny von Bülow coma.” Sunny von Bülow was a wealthy socialite who was in a coma from 1980 until 2008, when she died. There is more to this story — like, a lot more — but that’s what Wikipedia and time on the toilet is for.

‘It’s Mary Hart’s Voice!’

Mary Hart hosted Entertainment Tonight from 1982 until 2011. In 1991, a bizarre medical event happened when a doctor found that a viewer’s seizures were induced by the sound of Hart’s voice — the effect was even replicated in a lab. Less than a year later, this exact story happened to Kramer on Seinfeld. While it’s certainly dated today, the sight of Kramer’s seizure is still hysterical.

‘They’re Playing the Sonics’

In Season One’s “Male Unbonding,” Jerry’s friend Joel is trying to pressure Jerry into attending an NBA game with him, and he mentions that the Knicks are playing the Sonics. The Seattle SuperSonics — or just the “Sonics” — ceased being a team in 2008.

‘It’s Hammer Time!’

When Kramer tries to pressure Jerry into getting illegal cable, he says, “Man, it’s the ‘90s, it’s Hammer time!” in reference to MC Hammer, who I hope people still know (his creditors certainly do).

‘Two Months Ago, I Saw a Provocative Movie on Cable TV. It was Called ‘The Net’ with that Girl from the Bus’

For a deep cut, the hosts of The Place to Be: A Seinfeld Podcast point to a Frank Costanza line from the episode “The Serenity Now.” In it, Frank says, “Two months ago, I saw a provocative movie on cable TV. It was called The Net, with that girl from the bus.” The Net was a 1995 thriller in which Sandra Bullock plays a computer programmer. As for “the bus” he’s talking about, that’s obviously Speed. You still know what Speed is, don’t they?

‘Remember How Quayle Looked When Bentsen Gave Him That Kennedy Line?’

Another one from the guys at The Place to Be: A Seinfeld Podcast: In “The Phone Message,” when George is recounting freezing up when a woman smiled at him, he says to Jerry, “Remember how Quayle looked when Bentsen gave him that Kennedy line? That’s what I looked like.” This was a reference to the 1988 vice presidential debate, when 41-year-old Dan Quayle compared his experience in Congress to that of JFK. In response, Bentsen, who was the Democratic candidate, said, “I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Quayle could only offer stunned silence in return. It’s a landmark moment in political debates, but only history nerds probably get the reference today.

‘I Hate Keith Hernandez. Hate Him!’

I’ll admit it, I only know who Keith Hernandez is because of Seinfeld, but Wikipedia says he played for the Mets from 1983 to 1989.

‘Rogers Can’t Sell Chicken Around Here’

Here’s one where an entire storyline is dated. In the Season Eight episode “The Chicken Roaster,” a Kenny Rogers Roasters — a fried-chicken chain like KFC — opens up across the street from Kramer’s apartment window. Kenny Rogers Roasters operated in the U.S. from 1991 until 2011, which means they’ve been gone for more than a decade now (though there are still some locations in Asia). On top of that, Rogers died in 2020, which gives the story an additional bit of irrelevance.

‘Hello, and Welcome to Moviefone’

For yet another Kramer story victimized by the sands of time, there’s the one where his phone number is one number off from the Moviefone number. Before you could check Google for movie listings, people would call their local Moviefone number to find out what was playing at a nearby theater. Honestly, even the concept of Kramer having a landline makes this episode seem quaint.

‘The Merv Griffin Show’

The Merv Griffin Show was a talk show that was on TV from 1962 to 1986. Griffin was a giant in television for decades — he created both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune — but there’s a pretty good chance that a sizable chunk of Seinfeld’s younger audience only know him for the episode in which Kramer turns his apartment into the set of The Merv Griffin Show. When the episode debuted, The Merv Griffin Show had been off the air for over a decade, so the joke was intentionally dated even back then. But that’s also why this one has only gotten better with age.

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?