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TIME, 1998

I have played it over the last few years. Ask 20 people under the age of 18 if they knew who Jerry Seinfeld is.

It always gets laughter and opens up conversation and in most cases, you wind up explaining who he is.

After all, even Jerry’s name is comedic.

It’s best to conduct “Who is Jerry Seinfeld?” in a heavily trafficked area, you know, at a place where at any instant a flash mob might break out: Grand Central Station, your local mall, the baseball game.

I normally conduct my surveys at the airport where I am delayed or on a layover.

The surprise normally is that very few young people know of him. Remember that Jerry’s  popular show (“about nothing”)  went off the air in 1998. The 18 year olds today hadn’t yet gotten into kindergarten.

But, yesterday, NO ONE  of the 20 asked, knew who he was. There wasn’t even one single, “Yeah…I think I heard of him.”

You would somehow believe  in our-instant -500-channel-youtube-broadband world that young people would know.

When I asked about reruns, most subjects grimaced, wrinkled their nose or stared at me blankly.

I guess I saw it coming, I guess I just didn’t think it would happen so fast.

On the heels of this strange realization, I asked  a  college communications professor  about his freshman  students .

“Who did they knew from 20th Century pop culture. “

He quickly answered, “ Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and The Beatles….that’s it”.

So I’m not even going to go  there with Mary Tyler Moore.

Television in real-time, first run does have significance.  It affects that culture at that moment. The finale of MASH was the largest real-time television show audience in history. It drew a record 110 million people. Since then the nature of a hit has changed – and the numbers have dropped drastically. Real time viewers for Seinfeld were at 60 million in 1998. Today, the highest real-time television was American Idol’s finale at 40 million.

Maybe I’ll start asking about Simon Cowell… His name is just not as funny.