Kenny Kramer

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Kenny Kramer
Kramer, Kenny (2007).jpg
Kenny Kramer in 2007
BornMay 1943 (age 77)
New York City, U.S.

Kenny Kramer (born May 1943) is a former American stand-up comedian and claims to be the inspiration for the character of Cosmo Kramer from the television sitcom Seinfeld.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Kramer grew up in the Tremont section of the Bronx and dropped out of high school at 17. He sold magazines, played drums in a Catskills resort band, and had a spotty career as a stand-up comedian that lasted until 1981, when he gave up comedy to sell light-up “electronic disco jewelry” in nightclubs for a couple of years.[2][3]

Kramer sought to manage Bill Beason, a New York point karate champion, with the hopes that the karate tournament scene would develop along the same lines as wrestling had, since corporate sponsors such as Budweiser and Paul Mitchell were emerging.

Seinfeld co-creator Larry David lived across the hall from Kenny for six years, just as the character of Jerry Seinfeld did from Cosmo Kramer in the show. The two lived in Manhattan Plaza, a federally assisted apartment complex for performing artists in Hell's Kitchen, New York City.[4] David said that Kramer was a little bit eccentric and would be a good character to have on the show. Many of the traits of Kenny Kramer, such as the obsessions with golf, fruit, hot tubs, taking things out of the refrigerator and coming up with strange ideas and inventions, were featured in the show.


Michael Richards did not want to meet with Kenny to study the character and wanted to create the character himself. This situation was later parodied in the Seinfeld fourth season episode "The Pilot". The character was originally going to be named "Kessler" (parodied when he and Jerry are shown meeting for the first time in "The Betrayal"), due to Larry David's fear that using the name might spur the real Kramer to exploit his association with the character. However, Jerry Seinfeld thought that the name was too good not to use. Kenny Kramer then proceeded to contact Castle Rock Entertainment with a list of several demands, many of which were financial, for the use of his name. One demand not met was that Kenny would get to play Kramer, which is also parodied in "The Pilot".[5]

Kenny has been the host of Kramer's Reality Tour and Kramer's Reality Road Show since Seinfeld was on the air. He tells behind-the-scene stories to his audience and gives a bus tour of sites made famous by the show. A DVD version of his reality tour has also been produced.[6] The "Reality Tours" were later parodied on Seinfeld in the episode "The Muffin Tops", when catalog sales company owner J. Peterman used Kramer's various stories in Peterman's own biography. He develops a reality bus tour and touts himself as "The Real J. Peterman." The relationship between Cosmo Kramer and Kenny Kramer is explored in the featurette "Kramer vs. Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo", on the 3rd season Seinfeld DVD.

Later career[edit]

After achieving fame as the real Kramer from Seinfeld, Kramer has worked as a correspondent for Hard Copy, created and hosted "Kramer's New York" segments for the Fox New York City affiliate WNYW's Good Day New York, and appeared in the original New York company of Tony n' Tina's Wedding, playing himself. He has made many appearances on the bonus features of the Seinfeld DVD series.

In 1997, Kramer attempted to gain the Democratic Party nomination for New York mayor; he claimed that his candidacy was "quite serious," saying that he wanted to represent "a lot of disfranchised Democrats out there."[7] He did not get the nomination. In 2001, Kramer was asked by a television reporter about running again, and he replied that "if Jesse Ventura can be governor, why can't I be mayor?" The next day, the Libertarian Party contacted him to run on its ticket, and he accepted. He cited his agreement with the Libertarian Party on, among other issues, the decriminalization of marijuana.[8] During his run, he claimed that the previous run was "a publicity stunt"; his campaign slogan was "Kramer for mayor... this time I'm not kidding!"[2] He finished seventh in the election, with 1,408 votes.[9]

On June 6, 2013, Kramer became an ordained[10][11] non-denominational minister with the Universal Life Church World Headquarters[12][13] and was registered with the City Clerk in New York City.[14] While officiating at weddings, he prefers to be called the "Irreverent Kramer" rather than Rev. Kramer, and offers a "customized lifetime warranty" of providing pro bono weddings if the couple divorces.[15]


  1. ^ The Advocates for Self-Government. "Kenny Kramer - Libertarian". Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  2. ^ a b "Kenny Kramer Bio May 2004". Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  3. ^
  4. ^ McShane, Larry (24 November 2006). "The Real Kramer: That's Not Me". Associated Press via Washington Post.
  5. ^ "Kramer vs. Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
  6. ^ Fradkin, Lori. "Kenny Kramer Wants to Remind You That He Isn't a Racist, Has Things to Sell". Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  7. ^ NO JOKE! REAL-LIFE KRAMER'S RUNNING Archived 2009-09-05 at the Wayback Machine, New York Daily News, David L. Lewis, April 23, 1997
  8. ^ Kramer for mayor! Archived 2008-12-02 at the Wayback Machine, Gersh Kuntzman,, June 4, 2001
  9. ^ Libertarian Party of NY. "November 2001 Final Election Results". Archived from the original on 2002-08-08. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  10. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: 'Seinfeld' fan? You can now be married by Rev. Kramer". Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  11. ^ "Kramer of Seinfeld Gets Ordained with the Universal Life Church". 2013-07-12. Archived from the original on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  12. ^ "Official Universal Life Church World Headquarters Website". Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  13. ^ Geiger, Dorian (2013-11-01). "Irreverent, Sure, but Relevant, Too". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  14. ^ "certificate.html".
  15. ^ Geiger, Dorian (2013-11-01). "Irreverent, Sure, but Relevant, Too". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-08.

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