“Stop hocking me!”: In 1986, Dr. Ruth grilled Jerry Seinfeld about his fear of commitment

By on February 1, 2018

On November 1, 1986, stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld sat down with Dr. Ruth on her Lifetime TV show to talk about his bachelor lifestyle and his fear of commitment in long-term relationships, among other topics.

The show — which began with a warning about “explicit sexual references” – was one of the most popular episodes streamed last year on Night Flight Plus, as we told you in our end-of-year wrap-up post.

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“I have sitting rrrrright next to me a very funny young man who has some wonderful observations on bachelor life,” Dr. Ruth says during her introduction of Seinfeld, who immediately begins making faces, acting uncomfortable.

When Dr. Ruth says that she’d hoped that by this time Seinfeld had gotten himself married, Seinfeld jokingly retorts: “Stop hocking me!”

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Seinfeld then tells the diminutive talk show host and sex therapist that he’d broken off his engagement to a hotel manager two years earlier, which he described as feeling like “the very first part of the rollercoaster.”

“You’re not at the top, it’s that first thing… and you’re just…tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick… and you’re looking around and you don’t know what’s going to happen. And then, I don’t know what happens after you get engaged, I guess then you have that aah…aah…aah…” — here he moves his arms around as if to mimic a manic ride on a rollercoaster — “… that, I haven’t done that. That part is too scary.”

Read more about Jerry Seinfeld below.

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By the time Seinfeld — born on April 29, 1954 in Brooklyn, his family relocating to Massapequa in New York’s Nassau County — had graduated from Flushing, New York’s Queens College in 1976, he was well on his way to becoming a stand-up comedian.

On the very day he graduated, in fact — he earned a B.A. degree in Communications and Theater, writing a college thesis paper on stand-up comedy — he performed his stand-up routine at Manhattan’s Catch a Rising Star comedy club.

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That same year, he won himself an audition and a prestigious spot on the Comic Strip lineup, which had recently opened on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Seinfeld landed an emcee gig at the comedy club, sharing the stage with Eddie Murphy, Paul Reiser and Adam Sandler, among others.

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In 1977, he appeared on his first nationally-syndicated NYC-based TV show, Celebrity Cabaret“, hosted by Rich Hall.

Then 22-years old, Seinfeld took the first cab ride of his life to the taping, where he mostly joked about the Roosevelt Island Tramway and the amusement-park ride it inspired.

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In 1980, when he was 26, Seinfeld moved to Los Angeles, where he landed a role a the popular ABC sitcom “Benson” (a spin-off of “Soap” ), playing a talented stand-up comedian named Frankie who was to be the personal joke writer for the governor on the show.

Unfortunately, his character’s story arc lasted just three episodes before he was unceremoniously dropped from the show.

Seinfeld vowed not to become involved with a TV show again unless he was part of its creative team who had at least some part in controlling his character’s fate.

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He moved back to New York and became a familiar face at open-mic comedy events, and on May 7, 1981, he made his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” later appearing on “Late Night with David Letterman” and other late night talk shows.

He also appeared on daytime TV shows — like “The Dr. Ruth Show” in November of ’86 — as well as cable TV comedy specials, like Rodney Dangerfield’s “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me” (1986).

In 1987, Seinfeld hosted “Jerry Seinfeld: Stand-Up Confidential,” his first special for HBO, which led to him getting a shot at having his own NBC sitcom, which he co-created with a fellow stand-up comedian, Larry David.

Debuting in the summer of 1989 as “The Seinfeld Chronicles” – which NBC later called “Seinfeld” to avoid confusion with a short-lived series on ABC called “The Marshall Chronicles” — wasn’t an immediate smash.

NBC ordered just four episodes of the show after the pilot aired during a period that snarky NBC TV execs disparagingly called “Garbage Dump Theater” due of the quality of the shows.

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By its fourth season, though, “Seinfeld” was the most popular show on American TV.

Much of the show’s focus was on Seinfeld’s character’s problems with dating — based directly on things that had actually happened to Seinfeld (or Larry David), as well as his inability to commit in a relationship.

Larry David would later compare “Seinfeld” to “M*A*S*H,” which he said “accentuated the horror, atrocity and chaos of war,” saying that“Seinfeld,” similarly “illuminates the horror, atrocity and chaos of being single in New York.”

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Off-screen, Seinfeld was considered one of the most eligible bachelors around, to such an extent that when Seinfeld fell in love with Shoshanna Lonstein — who he met in New York’s Central Park in 1993 — the story made the cover of People weekly magazine.

The story inside, however, was quick to point out their obvious age differences — he was 38, she was just seventeen. Seinfeld later cited the gossip-fueled constant press hounding them both as one of the reasons they split up in 1997.

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Seinfeld would eventually meet the woman of his dreams, Jessica Sklar, in 1998.

They married on Christmas Day in 1999, and are still married today, nearly twenty years later.

Watch Dr. Ruth‘s exclusive ’80s vintage interviews with celebrities, rock stars and lots of special guests — we’ve told you about a few of those episodes here on the Night Flight blog, including LL Cool J, and Burt Reynolds — over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.