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Jason Alexander Weighs In On Fans' Comments Suggesting Jerry Seinfeld Can't Act

Like Bob Dylan's singing voice or Shaquille O'Neal's free throws, Jerry Seinfeld's acting ability on the classic sitcom that bears his name is one of those things that can be subject to heated debate among fans. Is he a stand-up comic out of his depth among trained actors, or is his relative nonchalance on screen actually perfect for his character and for "Seinfeld" as a whole? Or, quite possibly, both?

Now, none other than Seinfeld's co-star Jason Alexander is weighing in on the notion that Seinfeld "can't act," and his insights are pretty interesting. He characterized "Seinfeld" as a true collaborative effort between its four stars, and says they all helped each other grow as actors and comedians. And that if Seinfeld learned anything about acting from Alexander, it's balanced out by what Seinfeld taught Alexander about comedy. He also disputes the characterization of Seinfeld as lacking acting ability, saying he saw Seinfeld's screen acting improve early on in the course of the show.

Alexander said the two were receptive to each other's notes

The subject came up on Jason Alexander's recent appearance on the podcast "The Adam Carolla Show" on Spotify. Carolla referenced the conventional wisdom that Jerry Seinfeld had to be surrounded by top-tier screen actors like Alexander and co-stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards due to his lack of acting experience (one now obscure film along with future "Seinfeld" co-star Richards excepted).

Alexander gives a typically thoughtful answer, recounting a scene between the two of them in the "Seinfeld" pilot in which their characters are having a debate that almost but not quite verges into an argument. "Jerry wasn't playing his side of it fully because if you go back and look at the early epsiodes, you'll see Jerry's kind of enjoying the show while he's on the show," said Alexander. "So he said, 'can you ramp up your side of this?' And I said, 'I absolutely can but you're going to have to do this thing," he remembered.

But, Alexander adds, Seinfeld and show co-creator Larry David would sometimes give him line readings to make a scene funnier, making the show a collaborative creative experience.

Alexander says the dynamic of Seinfeld lifted everybody in the cast, not just Jerry

It's inarguable that when "Seinfeld" began, the real Jerry Seinfeld had very little screen acting experience, while his co-stars Alexander, Louis-Dreyfus, and Richards were relatively seasoned and comfortable before the cameras. But according to Alexander, any impromptu acting lessons Seinfeld got were reciprocated.

"But we were having such a good time playing with each other, that we would sit around on scenes we weren't in and say, 'hey if you do a thing, it might be funny' or 'the line's good on me but it might be funnier on Julia. We can shut up and Michael can come through the door and do a thing.' So we started looking out for each other that way," the actor recalled.

Alexander also seems to think that the notion that Seinfeld "can't act" is overblown, something that the show itself poked fun at in Season 4, when the fictional Jerry and George produce a sitcom pilot of their own. "I thought by the time we got to the third season, he was actually doing some pretty complex and cool stuff," Alexander said. "I can't speak for the other two, but I got a lot funnier!"