The ‘Festivus’ That Almost Wasn’t: How Julia-Louis Dreyfus Almost Killed The Episode

Festivus Almost Didn't Happen

Festivus has come and gone for another year, but it’s never far from a Seinfeld fan’s heart.

The fictitious, now kinda real, holiday that takes place every December 23 as practiced by Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) in the hit sitcom of the 1990s, gave culture a new holiday they could celebrate in lieu of (or conjunction with) Christmas.

It is truly a “festivus for the rest of us,” with its airing of grievances, aluminum pole, and feats of strength, but it almost didn’t happen because of one of the show’s four lead stars.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine on the series, almost derailed everything.

Here’s how it went down.

In comments to UPROXX, writer Alec Berg, who along with Dan O’Keefe and Jeff Schaffer created the episode in which Festivus first appeared, revealed just how difficult the Festivus family dinner scene was to film.

Apparently, Julia just couldn’t keep her “s***” together.

“When shooting ‘The Strike,’ one of my favorite things, in hindsight, that used to happen is when it was very late at night Julia Louis-Dreyfus would get the giggles and it was usually the last or second to last scene of the night,” Berg said, adding that she would start laughing and couldn’t stop.

“‘Ugh, d***it,'” Berg said, describing what went through his head every time it would occur, “we gotta get this done so we can go home and get a few hours of sleep before we have to come back tomorrow morning and start all over again.'”

That said, Berg couldn’t hold it against her for long, as “her laugh is so infectious and so enjoyable that everybody else would just start laughing.”

According to Berg, it was the scene at the dinner table and a line from “Colin,” the long-haired guy from the track who had a cable access show called Colin’s Sleazy Friends that really cracked Louis-Dreyfus up.

The show, in the real-world, consisted of Colin hanging out with porn stars on his public access series. He was spotted by a casting manager, who hired him based on that.

“We thought he was such a hilarious scuzzy scumbag guy,” Berg said. “I can’t remember what the line was but she was supposed to turn to him and say something and we must have tried to do that line 30 times and she just kept breaking.”

The info should come as no surprise to fans of the show and chronic watchers of the DVD bonus features. Julia Louis-Dreyfus often cracked up in the blooper reels and had a specific weak spot — something O’Keefe called “kryptonite” for Jerry Stiller’s Frank (his “halting way of speaking,” O’Keefe said).

One of the most famous scenes that just about did Julia Louis-Dreyfus in was the one where George (Jason Alexander) gets picked up for bootlegging a movie.

Elaine comes down to the station to bail out the female co-worker of hers who was with George at the time.

Frank, George’s dad, walks in and says, “My George isn’t clever enough to hatch a scheme like this,” to which Elaine says, “You got that right.”

What happens next causes Louis-Dreyfus to lose it, over and over and over again.

With the Festivus dinner scene, it certainly couldn’t have helped that Louis-Dreyfus had both “Colin” and Frank to contend with.

Much of the scene’s comedic value persists in the performance of Stiller, who’s meme-worthy assaults on his loved ones make “The Strike” one of the most beloved episodes in the Seinfeld canon.

Here are the highlights.

Are you a Seinfeld fan? Do you celebrate Festivus each year? Sound off in the comments section.

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