Steering clear of Clearwater? Jerry Seinfeld set the record straight on long-standing rumors that he was once a practicing member of the Church of Scientology.
“I did do a course in Scientology in, like, ’75 … in New York,” the Seinfeld alum, 66, said on the latest episode of the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast. “I found it very interesting, never pursued it.”
When Marc Maron asked Seinfeld whether the class “changed [his] brain,” the comedian responded in the affirmative and said he learned a lot about placing “emphasis on ethical behavior,” a concept he “liked” and still tries to abide by today. He was less chatty, however, when questioned about “avoiding negative people,” simply stammering, “No.”
Rumors about Seinfeld’s affiliation with the controversial religion dates back to the 1990s. While he rarely addresses the speculation, he spoke about his past studies at length in a 2007 interview.
“It was interesting. Believe it or not … it’s extremely intellectual and clinical in its approach to problem-solving, which really appealed to me,” the Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee host told Parade magazine at the time. “I actually got to it from my auto mechanics teacher in high school, who was into it, and he was telling me about it. In my early years of stand-up, it was very helpful. I took a couple of courses. One of them was in communication, and I learned some things about communication that really got my act going.”
Seinfeld, who was raised Jewish, told the magazine that he “wasn’t a natural performer at all,” but the course helped him improve.
“I was always a pretty good writer in the beginning, but I really had to learn how to perform,” he explained. “Just a little thing like that, understanding that really helped me on stage to understand how you have to invade the space of the audience a little bit. I learned that early on. It was a very helpful thing to learn. You have to invade them just a little bit. Not too much, because then it’s obnoxious. But you can’t be short of them either, or you won’t control them.”
The Golden Globe winner also praised the Church of Scientology’s “very good technology,” telling Parade, “That’s what really appealed to me about it. It’s not faith-based. It’s all technology. And I’m obsessed with technology.”
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