Author: Publisher: The Sager Group (October 3, 2012)


Alongside Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld himself, Peter Mehlman was the third main motor behind the scenes of Seinfeld. While he wasn't there at the show's creation, he became the principal writer through most of the show's nine seasons from 1989 to 1998. His legacy includes, among other catch-phrases, "yada yada," a phrase now immortalized in the Oxford English Dictionary. His role in the show's success can be demonstrated in the fact that some critics claim Seinfeld's quality didn't decline after David's departure but rather when Mehlman left to pursue other projects.

Since 1998, Mehlman has been part of the LA TV scene, but he hasn't yet had a second hand around the proverbial brass ring. His comic musings have, however, been published in a number of periodicals. In particular, since May 2005, Mehlman has contributed articles for The Huffington Post. Mandela was Late brings together many of these previously published short pieces in, to use two of Mehlman's favorite words, a Pithy and witty" collection.

As a result, Mandela was Late is not any sort of memoir nor autobiography, although we do get many glimpses into the life of Peter Mehlman. One of the most discussed essays, for example, is about Mehlman's disappointment he didn't earn an Emmy, losing to Ellen DeGeneres for "The Puppy Episode" when she came out of the closet. Mehlman describes his childhood investigation into why the number 69 inspired titters in his school. But his observations are about a myriad of topics like a fictional wit who publishes blank pages, panic attacks, a detective seeking to reopen the O.J. Simpson case, the many aspects of bad parenting, and the lengthy career of novelist Philip Roth. My personal favorite is the last ditty which gave the book its title in which a parole officer is minding the recently freed Nelson Mandela, certain that a criminal who spent 26 years behind bars could be problematic as a freed man.

Along the way, the book is full of rapid fire one liners. Once, kids couldn't imagine their parents having sex; as we grow older, it's just as difficult thinking about our friends having sex. He breaks up with one girlfriend because of "irreconcilable similarities." In Mandela's meeting with his parole officer, the officer reports, "I caught him off guard with that one. Mandela’s face softened. He looked like he wanted to smile or become violently ill. Or maybe he’d split the difference and become nonviolently ill."

In short, this short batch of comic essays is laugh out loud fast reading, and you need not be a Seinfeld fan to enjoy it. True, Seinfeld devotees will enjoy many nuggets that take us inside the show's creative process, not to mention TV writing as a whole. C'mon, check this one out. No Mehlman should live on residuals alone.

Follow Here To Read An Interview With Peter Mehlman

Follow Here To Purchase Mandela Was Late: Odd things & essays from the Seinfeld writer who coined yada, yada and made spongeworthy a compliment

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