Monday, September 30, 2013

SEINFELD... Coach or First Class?

Back once again here on PLS English Users is one of the most iconic TV sitcoms ever. Seinfeld, a program whose own creator Jerry Seinfeld defined as "a show about nothing".

In every episode, New York stand-up comedian Jerry and his crazy friends George, Kramer and Elaine get into trouble doing something that for most of us would be routine.

In this post, we revisit a scene from the episode "The Airport" in order to practice idioms as well as do some listening comprehension.

And of course, to have a lot of fun. Here are the details.

  • Characters: Jerry, Elaine, the Ticket Lady
  • Key language items
    • Wait up: another way to say, "wait for me!"
    • Never be late: Never or Always + infinitive verb (when giving advice)
    • 'cuz ('cause): informal way to say "because"
    • flailing: moving arms up in the air in an uncontrolled manner
    • You wanna + do something (want to: giving advice)
    • make this plane (on time): another way to say "arrive to the plane on time before it departs".
    • make + a place (where you have to arrive to)
      • we’re not going to make this movie on time
      • we’re not going to make it
      • we’re not gonna make the ship. It’s too late.
      • we’re not gonna make the appointment on time.
    • You’ve gotta + do something (got to: giving advice)
    • we’ll take 'em = we will take them (deciding on a purchase, plural)
    • pick up
    • coach
  • Additional language items
    • You see?: Do you understand what I mean?
    • We're not going to sit together? (statement as a question, common in conversation especially when one speaker is surprised)
    • He’s supposed to + do something
    • You flew here coach. (noun as adverb)
    • If the plane crashes, everybody in first class is going to die, anyway. (first conditional)


SCENE from the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” / Episode: The Airport

SITUATION: Jerry and his friend Elaine are about to take a plane back to New York when they learn that their flight is overbooked. The airline offers them another option that creates a conflict between them.

(Jerry runs through the airport. Elaine tries to catch up with him)

ELAINE: Wait up!

JERRY: You see? Never be late for a plane with a girl. 'Cuz a girl runs like a girl-- with the little steps and the arms flailing out... You wanna make this plane, you've gotta run like a man! Get your knees up!

(at the ticket counter)

JERRY & ELAINE: The flight's been canceled?!?!

TICKET LADY: Everything into JFK's booked... No, wait-- I have two seats into Laguardia-- but they're not together. It's boarding right now.

JERRY: We'll take 'em!

ELAINE: We're not going to sit together?

JERRY: Well, so what? It's not that long-- you'll read.

ELAINE: Well, what about George? He's supposed to pick us up at Kennedy. /
JERRY: We'll call him...

ELAINE: There's no time.

JERRY: (There’s ) No time? [To ticket lady] Is there time?

TICKET LADY: There's no time.

JERRY: There's no time. All right, we'll call him from the plane.

TICKET LADY: I have one seat in first class, and one in coach. The price is the same since your flight was canceled.

(The two have that uncomfortable politeness that only comes about when you're down to the last piece of pizza. Jerry breaks the silence:)

JERRY: I'll take the first class.

ELAINE: Jerry!

JERRY: What?

ELAINE: Why should you get the first class?

JERRY: Elaine, have you ever flown first class?


JERRY: All right then. See? You won't know what you're missing. I've flown first class, Elaine-- I can't go back to coach. I can't... I won't...

ELAINE: You flew here coach.

JERRY: Yeah, that's a point...

ELAINE: All right, fine. I don't care. If the plane crashes, everybody in first class is going to die, anyway.

JERRY: Yeah, I'm sure you'll live.


ROLE PLAY: Practice this scene with a group of classmates trying to guess how the actors say their lines and then WATCH the real scene to compare.

REAL SCENE: This is the actual scene as it plays out with the real actors.