Jason Alexander is no George Costanza.
First off, he's a Mets fan, so forget all those Seinfeld episodes about him working for the Yankees.
But there is a much more obvious difference. The man who spoke at B'nai Israel Congregation's huge fundraiser May 15 is no schlump. He's a good father, fierce supporter of Israel, and he's not even bald anymore. These days he sports a specially-made toupee he purchased to broaden his appeal to producers and directors.
Speaking about what a wonderful career he's having and how much he loves being center stage, Alexander admitted it has always bothered him how selfish a job acting really is. But he's been feeling a little better about his chosen field.
He's been the recipient of fan mail for years, but lately he's been getting more and more that start off - I am dying of cancer, my mother just died or my child is very ill. The letter writers go on to say they thought all the laughter had gone from their lives but after watching a few episodes of Seinfeld, they realized they could laugh again.
Or there was the time when the 52-year-old entertainer was eating dinner on a military base. As he was talking, he turned around to see a large group of Marines standing behind him. The designated speaker apologized for interrupting his meal but asked if he could tell Alexander something.
The marine went on to explain that his group had just spent more than a year in Iraq, seeing truly inhuman things. When they returned to their base, they all watched three or four Seinfeld episodes in a row. It got them through and kept them sane, the Marine told Alexander, adding that they had every intention of continuing this practice as they headed off to Afghanistan.
But don't think the Tuesday night's presentation was all serious, by any means. Alexander told great stories about the filming of Pretty Women, when all he and Richard Gere could do was whatever producer/director Garry Marshall told them. When Alexander was told to talk to Gere about his shoes, that's what they did. He shot one scene where he had an affair with Julia Roberts; another where he violently raped her; and yet another somewhere in the middle.
Finally, the filming ended, and he was going to see the film. Alexander was convinced there was no story, no possible movie. Then he saw what a good movie it turned out to be, and all he could figure out was that Marshall had a secret plan all along.
He also joked about the initial reaction to Seinfeld, which ranged from 'Are you crazy?' to 'That'll never work.'
Being in a synagogue, he obligingly talked about his Judaism, identifying himself as someone very proud to be a Jew but not necessarily religious. He went through Hebrew school, disliking it just as he was supposed to, he explained.
He sent his two sons through Hebrew school as well, and when they began to complain, he pointed out to each one of them how important their learning of Judaism would be to their two grandfathers. Both boys were smart enough to proclaim, 'But they are both dead," Alexander chuckled.
His real name, the one he uses to board airplanes, is Jay Scott Greenspan. When thinking of a stage name, he elongated the Jay to Jason, saying he was just a bit too plump to have such a short name. As for the Alexander, that's his dad's name.
Still, people often call him George. That can be good and bad, he noted.
It's bad, because it gets embarrassing to perk up in a crowd when someone yells 'George' only to realize they aren't referring to him.
But it is very, very good when he stops to think what being George Costanza has done for his life. If not for his neurotic character on Seinfeld, he would never have been able to enjoy the lifestyle he lives or enable his two sons many of the opportunities they have had. And for that he thanked everyone in attendance.