Never in history has a man who proposed incest with his cousin, accidentally killed his fiancée and ate pastries out of the trash been so admired -- nay, worshiped. But Americans love them some George Louis Costanza, perhaps the greatest weasel of all time, played brilliantly from 1990 to 1998 by Jason Alexander on Seinfeld.
It may be a little disappointing to fans of "the show about nothing," however, that Alexander is almost nothing like his most famous alter ego. He's an accomplished performer-writer-producer-director; he's won Tony and Emmy awards; and now he's even penned a children's book called Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?. The tale is based on a real-life conversation that Alexander had with his son, Gabriel. Alexander concocts a story about dodo birds and unicorns (how un-George is that?) to assuage Gaby's concerns that the tooth fairy is a sham. He'll read from Dad when he visits Houston for the 33rd annual Jewish Book & Arts Fair, which runs through this weekend.
"I didn't set out to write a children's book," he says. "I really was just patting myself on the back for having a good parent day." (Now that sounds like George.) "I realized I wanted to share this with parents," he adds. "And it needed to have truth in it to say to the parent, 'think about this.' " Alexander, who's quite the fan of politics, is also working on a book in which he's assassinated while running for president. "It's a question of who did it, because I would've offended so many people, they all would've wanted me dead," he says with a laugh.
Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood.
Alexander reads from Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy? at 4:30 p.m. (for ages three to eight) and hosts "An Evening with Jason Alexander" at 8 p.m. Sunday, November 13. For tickets and schedule of events, call 713-729-3200 or visit www.jcchouston.org. $13 to $18; free to series ticket holders.
He'll also close out the Jewish Book & Arts Fair with an hour-long program called "An Evening with Jason Alexander." In a decidedly Seinfeldian twist, this too may turn out to be a "show about nothing." "Can you tell me what it'll be like?" he asks. "I'm not sure what'll happen, but I can say it will be very loosey-goosey, with some meaningless stories about my life that, hopefully, are amusing. I guess I have to actually speak for a while. But I'd rather just say to the audience, 'Hey, what do you want to talk about?' "
No doubt, they'll want to talk Seinfeld. Like, does Alexander hang out with co-stars Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus? (He sees Louis-Dreyfus the most.) Or, is he surprised at the show's insane popularity? ("I'm surprised the show ran," he admits. "Once I got over my shock that we actually became a hot show, nothing else shocks me anymore.") Or hey, isn't there some George in Jason?
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"The people who spend time with me anticipating the kind of energy level and histrionics and neuroses of a George would be sorely disappointed," he says. Darn. "But what I would love to be able to do -- if I didn't have shame issues -- would be George's behavior, you know, to stand up and say 'You idiot!' -- and you're the dumbest guy in the room. But to have that kind of conviction is an amazing ability. I wish I could do it sometimes."