George is upset because he is moving back in with his parents. Jerry offers him money to pay his rent and Kramer tells him he can live with him for a while, but George declines. They help George move his things into his parents' house, but George is alarmed when they prepare to leave because he doesn't want to be left alone with his bickering parents. Jerry tells him that he is going to dinner later with Elaine, Kramer, and Kramer's new girlfriend Leslie, who is a "low talker." George wants to come, but Mrs. Costanza tells him he is going to dinner with her and his father.
That night at dinner, Kramer tells Elaine and Jerry that Leslie is a clothing designer and has designed a new puffy shirt, "like the pirates used to wear." When he leaves to go to the bathroom, Elaine explains to Leslie that Jerry is making an appearance on the Today Show to promote a benefit for Goodwill that helps clothe the poor and homeless. Leslie then says something. Not hearing what she said, Jerry and Elaine just pretend and nod their heads in agreement. Meanwhile, George is having dinner with his parents at another restaurant. When arguing with his mother about what he is going to do for a job (and listening to his dad talk about silver dollars), George gets up to get some air.
Outside, he accidentally bumps into a woman and spills her bag. When helping her pick up her things, the woman notices George's hands. She remarks that he has exquisite hands and asks if he's ever done any hand modeling. George says no and she gives him her card.
The next day at Jerry's, George presents his hands to him, but Jerry fails to see what is so special about them. Kramer walks in and shakes George's hand, shocking him with a prank hand shocker. George freaks out. He shows Kramer his hands, then puts on oven mitts and leaves. Kramer then tells Jerry that since he agreed to wear Leslie's puffy shirt on the
Today Show she has been getting orders from boutiques and department stores to produce more of them. Jerry doesn't know what he's talking about and Kramer explains that he had told Leslie yes when she asked if he would wear the shirt on the Today Show at the restaurant (after Kramer left to use the bathroom). Jerry protests wearing the shirt because he couldn't hear a word she was saying, but Kramer tells him he has to wear it because factories are already producing them and stores are beginning to stock them.
George goes home and starts prepping his hands for his meeting with the photographers. Jerry and Kramer are backstage in a dressing room at the Today Show studio. The stagehand tells Jerry he has five minutes until he goes on the air. Elaine arrives and immediately laughs at Jerry's shirt and tells him he looks like The Count of Monte Cristo.
At his meeting with the hand model photographers, the photographers marvel at George's hands. One of them proclaims that George's hands reminded him of Ray McKigney's, a former model who had it all until he blew it away by messing up his hands after constant masturbation. (This is not actually said, however, only implied by the words used during the recollection). Jerry, meanwhile, makes his appearance on the Today Show, but Bryant Gumbel can't help but laugh and talk about his puffy shirt. Jerry gets pushed over the edge and denounces the shirt on the air, causing Leslie to shout "You bastard!" off camera.
The photographers take pictures of George's hands and give him a check. A fellow model, an attractive woman, then asks George if they want to get together later. Overjoyed, George finally thinks he has it all as he heads to meet Jerry at the studio. Back in the dressing room, Leslie screams at Jerry for ruining her career. George bursts in and tells Jerry of his good fortune. Elaine, who has never noticed George's hands before, asks to see them. George takes off his mittens, then proceeds to mock and laugh at Jerry's shirt, unaware that Leslie, who is still in the room, can hear him. Furious, she pushes him and he trips, burning his now exposed hands on an iron sitting on the dressing room table that was left turned on by Kramer.
The episode ends with the four sitting at the same restaurant where Jerry originally (accidentally) agreed to wear the puffy shirt on TV. George's hands are bandaged up and Elaine helps feed him. He mockingly tells them that his hand model career is over "because of the puffy shirt." The shirt fiasco also caused Elaine to get fired from the benefit committee at Goodwill. Jerry says that he gets constantly heckled during his stand-up performances because of the shirt. Kramer tells them that all the stores cancelled out on Leslie and that he broke up with her because he "can't be with someone whose life is in complete disarray." The remaining shirts were given to Goodwill and when the four friends leave, several homeless men outside dressed in puffy shirts ask for change. When giving them some money, Jerry finally claims that it's not really a bad-looking shirt after all.
- Estelle Harris as Estelle Costanza
- Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza
- Wendel Meldrum as Leslie
- David Brisbin as Hand Model Client
- Bryant Gumbel as Himself
- Deborah May as Elsa
- Michael Mitz as Photographer
- Kim Gillingham as Photographer's Assistant
- Terrence Riggins as Stage Manager
- Ron Ross as Homeless Man
Notes About Nothing
- This episode marks the first appearance of Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza. Frank was previously portrayed by John Randolph in "The Handicap Spot".
- This is a rare episode that does not feature any scenes taking place at the coffee shop, Monk's.
- This episode is also different as the plot mainly revolves around Jerry and George, with Elaine and Kramer used only as supporting characters. (This is opposed to many Seinfeld episodes that often contain one or more storylines for each main character.)
- The puffy shirt used in this episode is currently placed in the Smithsonian. A doll-sized replica was included with the fifth season DVD set.
- An identical puffy shirt, perhaps the same one, was worn by Niles Crane on the "A Mid-Winter Night's Dream" episode of Frasier.
- The episode "The Contest" is referred to twice. The Hand Model Client uses the phrase "master of his domain" and George stated that he once won a contest for holding out the longest.
- Jerry Seinfeld flew to New York to film his scenes with Bryant Gumbel. Seinfeld was usually filmed in California.
- But I don't want to be a pirate! - Jerry
- You bastard! - Leslie
- You don't have to worry about me. I won a contest. - George
- You look like the Count of Monte Cristo. - Elaine
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