The Strike (Seinfeld)
|Episode no.||Season 9
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, and Dan O'Keefe|
|Original air date||December 18, 1997|
"The Strike" is the 166th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the tenth episode of the ninth and final season. It aired on December 18, 1997. This episode featured and popularized the holiday of Festivus.
This episode also popularized the concept of a "two-face": someone who looks attractive sometimes and looks bad at other times, depending on exterior conditions, such as lighting. It also explained why Kramer never held a job throughout the show. The episode is also notable for featuring an appearance by actor/playwright Tracy Letts, who would win the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for his play August: Osage County. TV Guide ranked this number three on its 'Top 10 Holiday Episodes' list.
George, Elaine, and Jerry attend Tim Whatley's Hanukkah party, and Elaine meets a man whom she dubs "Denim Vest" (based on his wardrobe) and gives him a fake phone number after he asks her out. Later at the coffee shop, George opens his mail and is offended to receive a gift of a donation in his name from Whatley, and also gets upset when Elaine reads a card from George's father wishing him a "Happy Festivus", referring to a holiday that his father invented.
Kramer gets a call that a 12-year strike at his former job at H&H Bagels ended, so he decides to return to work. Meanwhile, Elaine realizes that she lost her card for a free submarine sandwich after giving it to "Denim Vest" with the fake phone number written on it. Determined to get her free sandwich, she goes to the off-track betting parlor, whose phone number is the fake number she gave to "Denim Vest", hoping he will call the betting parlor and she can get her sandwich card back. The two men at the betting parlor begin flirting with Elaine and ask for her phone number, prompting her to give the number for H&H Bagels. She goes to the bagel shop and waits to receive a call there.
After learning about Festivus from George and Jerry, Kramer becomes fascinated with the concept, and meets up with George's father, Frank, to learn about the holiday. Kramer requests to have off of work to celebrate Festivus and is denied, so he goes back on strike, picketing outside the store. While on strike, Kramer sabotages the bagel machine, causing a steam vent to burst inside the store, which causes Elaine to appear unattractive. She goes to meet "Denim Vest" for her sandwich card, and he does not have it on him, but says he can give it to her another time. Being turned off by Elaine's appearance, he gives her a fake phone number.
While giving out Christmas gifts at work, George hands out cards for donations made to "The Human Fund", a fake charity George created to get out of buying gifts for his co-workers. George's boss, Mr. Kruger, decides to give a large company donation to The Human Fund, only later to find out that the charity does not exist. When confronted by Mr. Kruger as to why George gave him a "fake Christmas gift", George hesitantly replies that he does not celebrate Christmas, but instead celebrates Festivus, and claims he gave out the fake cards to avoid being "persecuted for [his] beliefs". To prove to Mr. Kruger that Festivus is real, George invites him to a Festivus dinner at his parents' house.
Jerry goes on a date with Gwen (Karen Fineman), a girl whom he met at Whatley's party, and realizes she is much less attractive than when he first met her because of the different lighting. When Kramer first meets Gwen, he finds her rather unattractive, and later does not recognize her when picketing outside the bagel store, claiming that she is more attractive than Jerry's actual girlfriend, which leads Gwen to think Jerry is cheating on her.
Jerry, Elaine, George, and Mr. Kruger attend the Festivus dinner at George's parents' house. Kramer walks in with the two men from the betting parlor after they called H&H Bagels asking for Elaine. Gwen shows up at the dinner after Kramer tells her Jerry was there, and sees Elaine, whom she thinks is Jerry's "ugly" girlfriend that he's cheating on her with, and she storms out of the house. Kramer leaves to work a double shift at H&H Bagels after he ended his strike to use the bathroom. The Festivus dinner continues with the traditional "feats of strength" where Frank forces George to fight him as George refuses. Frank declares it "the best Festivus ever".
During the credits, Kramer is making a fresh batch of bagels, but he gets his chewing gum stuck in the dough. The manager sees this and, finally deciding he's had enough, fires Kramer, who cannot be happier.
At the Festivus dinner, Kruger refers to Kramer as "Dr. Van Nostrand", a callback to "The Slicer". In that episode, Kramer pretends to be a dermatologist and screens Kruger for cancer. Kramer also used the name Dr. Van Nostrand in the episode "The Package" while pretending to be Elaine's doctor "from the Clinic". Kramer used the stage name "Martin Van Nostrand" when attempting unsuccessfully to audition for the part of 'Kramer' in part I of the two-part episode "The Pilot" and pretended to be Peter Van Nostrand, a professor of English literature who contended that Shakespeare was an impostor, in "The Nose Job".
The Human Fund
Due to his unconscionable cheapness, George Costanza found yet another way to save money after receiving a gift donation certificate from Tim Whatley. Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts (per normal custom) with his co-workers, George gave cards stating that a donation had been made in his co-workers' names to a charity called "The Human Fund" (with the slogan "Money For People"). This organization was strictly an invention of George's that did not in fact exist. The Human Fund was conceived by writer Jeff Schafer and based on Christmas cards the Seinfeld staff would receive from Castle Rock.
The Human Fund is also the name of a real organization based in Cleveland, Ohio established in 2005, eight years after the episode's airing. This organization reportedly drew its name from the episode.
In the Lost episode "Everybody Loves Hugo," after being presented with an award for his support of the Golden State Natural History Museum, Hugo Reyes (AKA Hurley) says to his mother that they have an event with the Human Fund next Saturday night.
There is a website that lets you send your own Human Fund e-card.