Jerry Seinfeld has written a letter to the editor in the Times taking critic Neil Genzlinger to task for his column ripping scriptwriters’ alleged faddish overuse of “really” as snark. Genzlinger jokingly suggested that such usage has contributed to the downfall of civilization: “Civilization crumbles a little bit almost every time I turn on the television, and a single word-and-punctuation-mark combination is inflicting the damage.” Seinfeld conceded that “really” is overused in scripted media. But he argued (and we urge you to read in Seinfeld’s voice if your brain doesn’t automatically trigger that function):
If you’re a writer, fine, don’t use it. But in conversation it is fun to say.
I did a “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update” segment titled “Really!?!” with Seth Meyers a few years ago. It was a blast and the audience loved it.
And then Seinfeld went after Genzlinger for using an idiom in his column that really grinds the comic’s gears. “When I hear people say, ‘If you can wrap your head around it,’ I want to wrap their heads around something, like a pole.”
To each his own.
Here’s Jerry making his case for the use of “really” on SNL: