“I have nothing against that guy,” Seinfeld tells CBS’ 60 Minutes this week about Stand Up N.Y. comedy club co-owner James Altucher, who wrote the R.I.P New York article on LinkedIn two months ago. “He’s fine. I didn’t like that nobody was rebutting it, and I realized, ‘Oh, I guess that’s my job.’ Somebody – a real New Yorker – has to answer this.”
In the August column headlined NYC Is Dead Forever: Here’s Why, Altucher wrote that his Upper West Side comedy club had been staging outdoor shows but saw a dwindling chance that the venue could reopen profitably in the wake of the city’s COVID-19 shutdown. “Broadway is closed until at least the Spring,” he wrote. “Lincoln Center is closed. All the museums are closed. Forget about the tens of thousands of jobs lost in these cultural centers. Forget even about the millions of dollars of tourist and tourist-generated revenues lost by the closing of these centers.”
In response, Seinfeld penned an op-ed column for The New York Times, addressing Altucher, whom he called a “putz,” by writing, “You say New York will not bounce back this time. You will not bounce back. In your enervated, pastel-filled new life in Florida. I hope you have a long, healthy run down there. I can’t think of a more fitting retribution for your fine article. This stupid virus will give up eventually. The same way you have.”
On this Sunday’s 60 Minutes, Seinfeld revisits the brouhaha, telling the show’s Jon Wertheim, “When you were a kid, remember kicking over the anthill? That’s what just happened to us. They just kicked over the whole anthill. And what do the ants do? ‘All right. Hand me the next crumb. Let’s get back to work.’”
Seinfeld says he has nothing against Altucher. When Wertheim says, “You called him ‘some putz on LinkedIn,’” Seinfeld responds, “I don’t even know what LinkedIn is. That’s who that guy is for the rest of his life. ‘Oh, look who’s here. The putz from LinkedIn.’”
“I just don’t want New Yorkism to die,” Seinfeld continues. “I don’t want it to be replaced by deep concern and over-sentimentality. You can have those things, but be a little badass, too. We don’t care if things are tough. Everything is always tough. It’s tough to live here.”
Seinfeld, whose new joke writing book Is this Anything? from Simon & Schuster lands Oct. 6, apparently wasn’t the only New Yorker who didn’t take to Altucher’s column. The comedy club co-owner wrote a later Linkedin article saying he was surprised by the hate messages he received.
“I lost friends over this article,” he wrote, adding, “My point is: don’t shoot the messenger. I was not making a political statement at all. Nor was I ‘kicking NYC’ on the way out. Far from it. I live in NY. I still own a bar/comedy club in NY. My kids go to school in NY. My family is there. My friends are there. But if my FACTS are correct, if you are seeing thousands of restaurants shut down, midtown empty, evictions soaring to all time highs, the greatest violence in years, etc. it’s reasonable to ask, what’s next in life?
“I love NYC, always have, always will…I expect I will always live in NYC one way or the other but, perhaps because of that, I take very seriously the problems that NY-ers are facing and I have to decide whether I want to solve those problems or if they can even be solvable.”