Seinfeld (1989–1998)
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The Phone Message 

George leaves several awkward messages on a girlfriend's answering machine, then decides to steal the tape.



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Episode complete credited cast:
... Jerry Seinfeld
... Elaine Benes
... Kramer
... George Costanza
Tory Polone ... Carol
... Donna


After a pleasant first date with with Carol, she invites him up for coffee but George says no thanks - and only laster realizes what she may have meant. He reluctantly decides to call her the next day but embarrasses himself even further by leaving a foolish message. He decides he has to get to her machine and retrieve the messages before she does. Jerry meanwhile goes on a date with Donna but they get into an argument when she says she likes a particular TV commercial that Jerry just hates. Written by garykmcd

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PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 February 1991 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


George (Jason Alexander) pretends Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) has a fear of public toilets as a ploy to get invited inside Carol's (Tory Polone) apartment. In later episodes we learn that George & Jerry are both very fastidious about their toilet habits. See more »


Donna pours wine into a glass and sets it down next to an empty glass. Even though nobody touches the glasses after that, they go from both being empty, to one being full, to both being full, and ultimately both being empty again. Also, both glasses and the bottle move around on the counter between shots. See more »


George Costanza: I can't stand doing laundry. That's why I have forty pairs of underwear.
Carol: You do not.
George Costanza: Absolutely. Because instead of doing a wash, I just keep buying underwear. My goal is to have over three hundred and sixty pair. That way, I only have to do wash once a year.
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Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 4 February 2016 (2016) See more »


Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Jason Alexander
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User Reviews

"The idiot's on!"
29 November 2007 | by See all my reviews

Ah, George Costanza, what a lovely TV creation: constantly insecure, awkward, selfish and cheap, incapable of having a lasting relationship with any woman and, finally, "Lord of the idiots" (his own words). Many of Seinfeld's best moments derive from his missteps, and The Phone Message is one of four Season 2 episodes (the others being The Ex-Girlfriend, The Apartment and The Revenge) where the character, played to endearing perfection by Jason Alexander, completely steals the show.

As suggested by the title, this episode has a lot to do with phones. Before that part, though, comes one of the most absurd conversations ever heard on mainstream television: Jerry and George go out on separate dates, and while the former doesn't seem to have that many difficulties, the latter "elegantly" turns down his lady companion's offer to come up to her apartment and "have coffee" by saying: "Oh, no thanks, I can't drink coffee late at night, it keeps me up". Realizing his mistake, he later tries to atone by leaving a message, only to decide to steal the tape because what he said over the telephone is, naturally, a load of garbage.

Of course, the story isn't all about George: Jerry, Elaine and Kramer appear as well, and everyone of them is memorable, but because of the script and the opportunities it gives the actor in terms of physical and verbal comedy, The Phone Message is best remembered for Alexander's zany antics, which range from discussing the significance of the word "coffee" to using an answering machine in the worst possible way. Perhaps the reason this episode made me laugh really hard was the fact that it constituted a reversal within the series: in the very first episode, The Seinfeld Chronicles, an unusually confident George chastised Jerry for not understanding the signals a woman conveys ("What do you need, a flag?"); this time it is Mr. Costanza himself who misinterprets the simplest of clues, spinning comedy gold out of what could have been an average, boring romance scene.

Overall, as fantastic as previous shows. For the real George-related comic triumph, however, there was one more episode to go...

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