The 5 Most Controversial Moments Of Jerry Seinfeld's Career

Jerry Seinfeld has been making people laugh for decades with his stand-up and hit show "Seinfeld." A lot of fans think he and his sitcom character are one and the same, and while they share similar attributes, the real-life version is a bit darker and a lot more controversial. One would think that the funnyman would be affable and approachable, but he admitted himself that he's a grump when it comes to fans. In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Seinfeld shared, "I do insist on a certain level of civility. Don't yell at me, we haven't met. Don't touch me — nobody feels good having a total stranger touch them." He stated that fans have gotten to see more of his prickly personality from "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," and it's as if he's turning into Larry David right before our eyes.

Unlike his "Seinfeld" co-creator, however, the "Bee Movie" actor has been caught in some situations that had tongues wagging. From celebrity feuds to causing political divide, the comedian's long career has been tainted with controversy that the public is not likely to forget.

Students at Duke University walked out during Jerry Seinfeld's speech

Amid all the political divide between Israel and Palestine, Jerry Seinfeld's commencement speech at Duke University propelled protestors to walk out of the ceremony in May 2024. Seinfeld, who is Jewish and has been supportive of Israel following the attacks by Hamas, was given an honorary degree and invited to speak at the prestigious university. While at the podium, several pro-Palestine people proceeded to boo the comedian, while others chanted his name in support. Jerry continued with his speech and stated, "I say, use your privilege. I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian."

Jerry has yet to address the incident at Duke, but his wife Jessica Seinfeld shared on Instagram, "A small group (about 30-40) of protestors tried to interrupt Jerry's commencement speech at @dukeuniversity today. Despite their efforts, it had no impact on the ceremony. In fact, they were boo'd and it inspired the crowd of 7,000 to chant 'Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!' and applaud even louder." She continued, "Jerry's speech was amazing and received a standing ovation from grads and their parents."

Jerry Seinfeld glossed over the lack of diversity in his Netflix show

Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" features him picking up various fellow funny celebs in vintage cars and shooting the breeze. During a sit-down with BuzzFeed for "CBS This Morning," interviewer Peter Lauria told him, "I have noticed that most of the guests are mostly white males." Seinfeld immediately shot down the observation and gestured to the audience. "Take a look around, Peter, what do you see? A lotta [white people]," he scoffed. Seinfeld later continued, "People think it's the Census or something. I mean, this has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in ... I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that."

"Seinfeld" was also criticized for its lack of POC actors. Back in 1998, Dean Jannette Date of Howard University told the Los Angeles Times, "In the black community, the finale of 'Seinfeld' is basically a non-event. It's clearly a well-written program and is very funny, but it has never really captured black audiences. They're not angry about the show. They're just indifferent." The president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Alex Nogales, shared that "Seinfeld" never appealed to him and added, "It had nothing to do with the reality of Latinos."

Jerry Seinfeld dissed Howard Stern

Could it be a case of comedic competition? In an episode of the "Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade" podcast, Jerry Seinfeld spoke about their art and stated, "Howard Stern invented this but we're better than him now." Ouch. He went on to say, "Howard is interesting, Howard's a great interviewer, but you know, comedy chops ... let's face it. He's been outflanked." Seinfeld then praised Dana Carvey and David Spade's podcast as being the best in the comedy category. He later backtracked and attempted to take his foot out of his mouth by telling TMZ, "I really feel bad for what I said about my friend Howard Stern in a conversation with David Spade and Dana Carvey, talking about the glut of comedy podcasts. I meant to say he must feel surrounded but I said 'outflanked' which sounded terrible and insulting."

Stern took to his radio show on SiriusXM to speak about the public diss, according to People. He recalled reading about it in the news and initially thought Seinfeld's comments were strange given their friendship. The stand-up called Stern and apologized profusely, but the radio host just let the incident slide off his back. "I said, 'Jerry, you don't even have to — please. This is embarrassing. I am the king of going on the air and having millions of regrets afterwards. Apology accepted. I don't care,'" Stern revealed. Damage control done and friendship saved.

Kesha was devastated after Jerry Seinfeld refused to hug her

It was the cringiest moment of 2017. Jerry Seinfeld was giving an interview on the red carpet at the David Lynch Foundation event for transcendental meditation when Kesha snuck up behind him and blurted out, "I'm Kesha, I love you so much." She then asked for a hug, which he turned down not once but three times. A distraught Kesha walked away, her long blond hair trailing behind her. Seinfeld laughed and said, "I don't know who that was."

Seinfeld defended his snub in an interview with Extra. "I'm 63, I don't know every pop star. I don't know everyone," he explained. "I don't hug a total stranger. I have to meet someone, say hello — I have to start somewhere. A hug is not the first moment of ... two humans." Fair enough, but Kesha later shared on "The Best Show with Tom Scharpling" that she had been a huge "Seinfeld" fan and carried around a DVD with her to watch on flights when they would get bumpy to calm her down. She had only gone to the David Lynch event knowing that Seinfeld would be there. "And then he didn't hug me in front of cameras and it was like, the most depressing — and hilarious — but also so sad. It was like the saddest moment of my life," she stated. As the saying goes, never meet your heroes.

Jerry Seinfeld once dated a minor

It's not every day that you're sitting in a park minding your own business when a famous comedian approaches you. That's what happened to Shoshanna Lonstein in 1993, and it could have been a rom-com, except she was a 17-year-old in high school at the time while Jerry Seinfeld was 38, according to People. "I didn't realize she was so young. This is the only girl I ever went out with who was that young. I wasn't dating her. We just went to a restaurant, and that was it," he insisted on Howard Stern's show. Their relationship was more than a fling, and eventually, Lonstein graduated and went off to George Washington University.

The two resumed their relationship for four years before Lonstein and Jerry broke up in 1997. "We were very much in love. But the timing wasn't quite right. I almost got married to Shoshanna. I don't want my wife to work. I've had enough career for both of us," the television star told Playboy (via Far Out). Lonstein went on to marry Joshua Gruss in 2003 and the share three children. Unfortunately, the pair split in 2014. As for Jerry, he's been happily married to Jessica Seinfeld since 1999. And, as it turns out, Jerry and Jessica's age gap is bigger than you realized.