This is the first in a series highlighting references to the city of Ithaca in national pop culture.
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Ithaca, N.Y. — In an ancient time, long before Cornell’s Campus-to-Campus bus or Craigslist rides — we believe it was a period called the 1990s — Jerry Seinfeld got stuck in the city of Ithaca.
It’s the 108th episode of Seinfeld, called “The Diplomat’s Club,” in the show’s sixth season.
In a typically Seinfeldian plot of mishap and misdirection, Seinfeld’s assistant invites the pilot of his flight out of Ithaca to see his standup set.
The bumbling assistant then makes Jerry nervous for his set by saying that the pilot’s presence in the audience shouldn’t make him nervous.
Wikipedia summarizes what happens next:
In Ithaca, Jerry’s assistant invites the pilot to his comedy routine, then warns Jerry not to be nervous about it, which makes Jerry extremely nervous, causing him to perform poorly, leading the officious assistant to harangue the pilot.
When Jerry tries to fly back to New York, the same pilot, flying the return flight, throws him off the plane, delaying the flight. The assistant rents a car and tries to drive Jerry back, but gets lost and drives into a swimming pool, which leads to TV news coverage.
Above is a clip from the episode. “Good afternoon, Ithaca, welcome. Good to see you here,” Seinfeld says.
As great as it is that the NBC writers chose Ithaca for this misadventure, we have some lingering questions.
Namely: Who is attending a show in Ithaca in the afternoon? Where would such a show even be held? (Lot 10’s open mic night wasn’t around in the 90’s.) And why aren’t there more students in the audience?
But something else seems off as well. As he starts tanking, Seinfeld begins a joke about seeing the “orange cones you have out there on the Thruway on the way —.”
This, of course, doesn’t make any sense. Why would Jerry hook all the way east through Albany in order to come back west to Ithaca?
As his friend George would undoubtedly point out, that’s clearly not the best way to “make good time.”