The Sniffing Accountant

"The Sniffing Accountant" is the 68th episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, being the fourth episode of the series' fifth season. It aired on NBC on Thursday,[2] October 7, 1993.

In the episode, George's father gets him an interview as a brassiere salesman. Evidence points to Jerry's accountant being a cocaine user. Jerry, Kramer and Newman set up a sting to find out the truth. Elaine's new boyfriend is perfect except for his unwillingness to use exclamation points.

The episode was written by creators of Seinfeld, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and directed by Tom Cherones. To research for one of this episode's recurring jokes where the characters feel others' shirt sleeves between their thumb and forefinger, David did this himself, assessing the different kinds of fabric and the owners' reactions.[3] The episode received positive reviews from critics and received a 19.1/21 Nielsen rating.

"The Sniffing Accountant"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 4
Directed byTom Cherones[1]
Written byLarry David & Jerry Seinfeld[1]
Production code504[2]
Original air dateOctober 7, 1993
Guest appearance(s)


In Monk's Café, Elaine discusses her new boyfriend, Jake Jarmel (played by Marty Rackham), who she met when he approached her in her office and felt her jacket between his thumb and forefinger. Barry Prophet (John Kapelos), Jerry's accountant, drops by. Jerry notes him sniffing during their conversation and concludes he could be on drugs, making him fearful for the security of his money.

Jerry tells Kramer about Barry, and Kramer shares his conviction that he is a drug addict. Jerry gives Kramer his sweater because it is too itchy. Kramer, Newman, and Jerry follow Barry to a bar. Kramer, wearing Jerry's sweater, tries to bait him into asking about drugs without success, but again notices him sniffing.

Elaine notices Jake did not put an exclamation point after an important phone message. Jake tries to dismiss the issue as trivial but Elaine gets increasingly outraged, leading them to break up. She subsequently edits Jake's book manuscript to replace many of the periods with exclamation points, prompting an uncomfortable meeting with her boss, Mr. Lippman, in which he derisively reads aloud some of her bizarre placings of exclamation points.

George's father gets him an interview with Sid Farkus (Patrick Cronin) for a job as a bra salesman. In his interview, George tells a sentimentalized version of the first time he saw a bra, resulting in him getting hired. Inspired by Elaine's story of how she met Jake, he feels a woman's shirt between his thumb and forefinger on his way out. The woman (Christa Miller), who turns out to be Farkus's boss, is enraged by the act and demands that George leave the company. Farkus obediently fires George.

Jerry writes a letter dismissing Barry as his accountant and gives it to Newman for mailing. A pizza delivery man arrives and starts sniffing. He explains that he is allergic to mohair, which Kramer's sweater is made of. Jerry and Kramer conclude it was actually the sweater that caused Barry to sniff. Jerry rushes out to stop Newman from mailing the letter. On his way to mail the letter, Newman's flirtations with a woman go awry when he feels her coat between his thumb and forefinger. The woman is enraged. Newman runs away in a panic, dropping the letter. Days later, Jerry announces that Barry filed for bankruptcy, seemingly having spent everything on drugs, and if he had terminated his relationship with him prior to the filing, he could have gotten his money back.


This episode was written by series co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and was directed by Tom Cherones.[1] The cast first read the script for this episode on September 8, 1993, at 11:00 a.m.[3] Filming took place on September 14, 1993, with eighteen members of the Vandelay Industries Mailing Listing (a Seinfeld fan club) among the audience.[3]

"My accountant, whose name I won’t mention (not that he doesn’t deserve the infamy) stole I think fifty thousand dollars from me, and snorted it up his nose...[I] just gave him an envelope of cash, and never saw it again. And I used to talk about that guy and how much I hated him, so he became the Sniffing Accountant. That was some measure of revenge."
Jerry Seinfeld[4]

In real life, Seinfeld has claimed, without proof, that his accountant stole money (about US$50,000) from him to buy illegal drugs, with his suspicions thus inspiring the main plotline for this episode.[3][4]

David actually worked as a bra salesman during his years as a struggling comedian.[3] That had been many years prior to this episode though, so he had to do research in order to write dialogue pertaining to the configuration of modern bras.[3] The writer's assistants called bra companies to ask questions.[3]

Kramer's display of simultaneous drinking and smoking in this episode was unscripted.[4] On the first attempt, Michael Richards let out a loud belch (with smoke) that earned uproarious laughter from the studio audience, but was deemed too broad by the show's producers, and a second take was done. This scene helped Richards win an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the character.[3] The first take was seen in Seinfeld's one-hour retrospective The Chronicle, which took place prior to the original airing of "The Finale." It was included in the 2005 Season Five DVD set's blooper reel. Julia Louis-Dreyfus said that she was "in awe" when seeing him pull that off.[4]

The line "barring some unforeseen incident" was first uttered in this episode by the character Sid Farkus, and the line eventually became a catchphrase around the show.[3] Julia Louis-Dreyfus commented that it was like a line from Foghorn Leghorn, and worked as a "precursor to chaos."[4]

Series continuity

  • Although Elaine and her boyfriend, Jake Jarmel, break up during this episode when he does not put an exclamation point on a note, they briefly get back together in the season finale, "The Opposite." In the season 6 episode "The Scofflaw", Elaine and Jake presumably broke up again and Elaine plans revenge on him.
  • The exclamation point is mentioned again in "The Muffin Tops".
  • Christa Miller has a brief role as Sid Farkus' boss, in which George touched her clothes briefly resulting in his firing. She would later play a different role as George's girlfriend in season 6's "The Doodle."
  • The mohair sweater Kramer wears in the bar is the same sweater worn by Mrs. Sokol's daughter in Season 3's "The Boyfriend (Part 2)" on her second date with George.
  • Patrick Cronin reprises his role as Sid Farkus again in "The Doorman", where he is considering doing business with Frank Costanza and Kramer after they create a male bra. The line "barring some unforeseen incident" is uttered once again in that episode by Farkus.
  • The lady that had the coat on that Newman rubs in his fingers at the mailbox is Glenda (Patrika Darbo), a former co-worker of George's at his old real estate job in Season 2's "The Revenge".
  • George is reading an issue of Glamour magazine at the Costanzas' house, the same magazine he was reading when he was "caught" during Season 4's "The Contest".

Cultural references

This episode makes a number of cultural references. Jerry makes references to Leave it to Beaver in his stand-up comedy bit that opens the show.[3] He jokes about how the government is like parents for adults; the IRS being Ward and June Cleaver, and adults being Wally and The Beaver. He also says that your accountant is like Eddie Haskell, showing you "all these neat tricks to get away with stuff." He then says when you're sent to prison for tax fraud you would hope not to meet Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford and "Whitey" Whitney.

A reference to Abscam is made when Kramer, Jerry, and Newman consider organizing a sting.[3] Jerry and Newman argue over whether Glide Floss or dental tape is the better floss in this episode as well.[3] Glide Floss was actually a big trend in the Seinfeld production office during the early part of season five.[3]


This episode gained a 19.1 Nielsen Rating and a 29 audience share, meaning that 19.1% of American households watched the episode, and 29% of all televisions in use at the time were tuned into it.[3] It reran on March 24, 1994, and earned exactly the same numbers, which was a good sign that the show was becoming a hit.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Credits". Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  2. ^ a b "The Sniffing Accountant". Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Seinfeld Season 5: Notes about Nothing - "The Sniffing Accountant" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
  4. ^ a b c d e This is stated in the "Inside Look" commentary of the Seinfeld season 5 DVD containing this episode.

External links

46th Primetime Emmy Awards

The 46th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, September 11, 1994. The ceremony was hosted by Patricia Richardson and Ellen DeGeneres. It was broadcast on ABC. Comedy Central received its first major nomination at this ceremony.

For its first season, the Cheers spin-off Frasier won Outstanding Comedy Series and four total major awards. For the second straight year Picket Fences won Outstanding Drama Series, it too won four major awards on the night, but the more impressive drama series was newcomer NYPD Blue, which took home three major awards.

NYPD Blue came into the ceremony with 19 major nominations. This broke Hill Street Blues record for most nominations by a drama or comedy series of 16 set in 1982, and put it in second place all time behind Roots which gained 21 major nominations in 1977. NYPD Blue set another milestone when it received every nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, this marked only the ninth time that a show had received every nomination in a category. This feat has not been accomplished since.

The television film And the Band Played On also made Emmy history. It set a new record when it received nine major nominations, the most ever for a television movie. The record was maintained for twenty years, until The Normal Heart received nine major nominations in 2014. Both films won the top prize, but each lost all six of their acting nominations, directing, and writing to other projects.

Christa Miller

Christa Beatrice Miller (born May 28, 1964) is an American actress who has achieved success in television comedy. Her foremost roles include Kate O'Brien on The Drew Carey Show and Jordan Sullivan on Scrubs (which was created by her husband Bill Lawrence). She has also appeared in Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and CSI: Miami. From 2009 to 2015, she starred in the TBS (formerly ABC) sitcom Cougar Town, also created by Lawrence.

John Kapelos

John Kapelos (born March 8, 1956) is a Canadian actor from London, Ontario. He is best known for his portrayals of janitor Carl Reed in The Breakfast Club and Detective Donald Schanke in Forever Knight.

An alumnus of The Second City, Chicago, John Kapelos's theatrical work spans eight years from Second City's Touring Company (1978–1982) to six revues as a member of the famed Resident Company (1982–1986), and finally Second City's critically acclaimed return to off-Broadway in Orwell That Ends Well at the former Village Gate in New York City.

Newman (Seinfeld)

Newman is a recurring character and occasional antagonist on the television show Seinfeld, portrayed by Wayne Knight from 1991 until the show's finale in 1998.

TV Guide included him in their 2013 list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time. In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked him #16 of their "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time".

Patrika Darbo

Patrika Darbo (née Davidson; born April 6, 1948) is an American actress. She is known for her roles as Nancy Wesley and Shirley Spectra in the television soap operas Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, respectively.

In 2016, Darbo won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her role in the online comedy series Acting Dead, becoming the first winner in that category.

Seinfeld (season 5)

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The Betrayal

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This is the first episode of Seinfeld written by Tom Gammill and Max Pross. This episode ends with the dedication "In memory of our friend, John Oteri," who worked as a camera operator on the show.

Rance Howard appears as the blind man in this episode. Rance is actor/director Ron Howard's father.

Anna Gunn, who plays Jerry's girlfriend Amy, later went on to star in Breaking Bad.

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Written by series co-creator Larry David and directed by Tom Cherones, the episode premiered in the United States on NBC on April 18, 1991. Largely based on David's own experiences, "The Revenge" was the first episode he wrote without Seinfeld's collaboration. The episode also contains the first mention of Newman, a suicidal man who lives in Jerry and Kramer's apartment building, who would later become a popular recurring character. As the episode is the first in which Kramer does physical comedy for which the character would become well-known for, some cast and crew members consider it a turning point for the show. When first broadcast in the United States, the episode gained a Nielsen rating of 14.4/24 and was met with positive response from critics.

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