“The kids don’t walk the halls after club meetings saying ‘giddy-up’ or ‘yada yada yada’ or anything,” Pazin says, “but it’s a good way to build a little bit of camaraderie." Credit: Jamie Ramsay

Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week’s Chicagoan is Jerry Pazin, 45, history teacher and Seinfeld Club adviser, Saint Rita of Cascia High School.

When I started teaching, I’d make Seinfeld references in class, and there would be five or six guys who’d laugh. Then a few years went by, and it would be only one or two guys who laughed, but I’d still do it. I have a pole in the classroom that used to hold maps, and for the holidays I’ll put it out and put “Happy Festivus” on it.

Five years ago I had a kid in class, a junior, and at the end of the school year, he told me, “Mr. Pazin, I have a great idea for a club. I think you’re the perfect person to pull it off. It would be a Seinfeld club. We’d meet once a week and we’d watch an episode and we’d talk about it. You’d be great.” I said, “Why me? ‘Cause I’m really funny?” He goes, “‘Cause your name’s Jerry.”

The next year, we implemented it. I promoted it a little bit, put a few signs around the school. I wondered if we’d get any kids to show up, but at that first meeting, there were like ten or 12. I was amazed.

Now we usually get anywhere between six to ten kids. If I advertise that we’ll have pizza, we get one or two more. We meet about every other week. Usually at the start of the year, I’ll show the pilot episode, just so they can see the show evolve. Then as the year goes by, I’ll show two episodes from season one, the next time two from season two, and so forth, so you can see the arcs of some of the story lines.

Credit: Jamie Ramsay

It’s a pretty easy club to be in. I don’t run a real tight ship. My goal is just to have a small group of kids after school in the middle of the week who are free for an hour, we sit and put on these shows, and then we go home. The kids don’t walk the halls afterward saying “giddy-up” or “yada yada yada” or anything, but it’s a good way to build a little bit of camaraderie.

A couple times in each episode I’ll pause it and point something out, because I’ve seen it probably 100 times. Like during one episode, George is trying to get ahold of a girlfriend, and I’m like, “Guys, this is called a pay phone.” Or the one where Elaine was dating the guy named Joel Rifkin, which was the name of a serial killer from New York, so I explain that. Or when Larry David is playing George Steinbrenner, I’ll pause it and say, “Do you guys recognize this guy’s voice?,” and some of them do, from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Sometimes I’m amazed at how hard they laugh at stuff. Last week we watched the Chinese restaurant episode, and they laughed really hard for most of that episode. They love the Soup Nazi episode too. Kramer tends to get the most laughs. The puffy shirt episode, or the one with the marine biologist—I always make sure that I show those. I’ve never shown the “master of your domain” episode, though. You just err on the side of caution.   v