S02E04 - The Phone Message

No: 9  |   Season: 2   Episode: 4  |   Air Date: 13-Feb-1991  |   Production #207

Tan pants. Why do I buy tan pants, Donna?Tan pants. Why do I buy tan pants, Donna?


George regrets not going upstairs for "coffee" after a date, and proceeds to leave his girlfriend a series of increasingly embarrassing phone messages. Meanwhile, Jerry and his girlfriend argue over the comedic value of a TV commercial.

Director and Writers

Director: Tom Cherones
Writers: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld


George: Instead of doing a wash, I just keep buying underwear. My goal is to have over 360 pair. That way I only have to do wash once a year.

Carol: Would you like to come upstairs for coffee?
George: No, thanks, I can't drink coffee late at night. It keeps me up.

George: "Coffee"'s not coffee, "coffee" is sex!

George: (to Carol) Jerry has a fear of public toilets.

George: Tippy Toe, Lemon Tree.

Jerry: Kramer, this is Donna.
Kramer: (snaps fingers) Cotton Dockers!

Jerry: I'm lactose intolerant. I have no tolerance for lactose... and I won't stand for it!

Donna: I asked some friends of mine this week, and all of them liked the commercial.
Jerry: (sarcastic) Boy, I bet you got a regular Algonquin round table there.

George: The light is blinking: "Come and listen to the idiot!"

Carol: (to George) That's what you had to tell me? Your father wears sneakers in the pool?

Elaine: (to George) I don't know what your parents did to you.

Jerry: I love my phone machine. I wish I was a phone machine. I wish if I saw somebody on the street I didn't want to talk to, I could go, "Excuse me; I'm not in right now. If you would just leave a message, I could walk away." I also have a cordless phone, but I don't like that as much, because you can't slam down a cordless phone. You get mad at somebody on a real phone

Kramer: One hundred percent cotton-Dockers. If they're not Dockers, they're just pants.

Notes and Trivia

The plot is based on a real-life experience of Larry David's.

Jerry's apartment number is 3A in this episode instead of the usual 5A.

Elaine mentions a brother-in-law which means she either has a sister or a brother, but, like Jerry's mentioning of his sister in "The Chinese Restaurant," Elaine's brother-in-law (or brother and sister) is never referred to again.

An episode that was written by Larry Charles called "The Bet" was planned but scrapped for the second season, with a plot was about Elaine buying a handgun. Since the network considered it inappropriate, "The Phone Message" was made to replace the episode. "The Bet" was the first and only episode that wasn't filmed.

When George says, "Remember how Quayle looked when Bentsen gave him that Kennedy line?" he is referring to the now famous line "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy", spoken by American democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen to republican vice-presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice-presidential debate.

The Nielsen ratings for this episode were so low that the show was put on hiatus and considered for cancellation. It would return two months later.


When Jerry talks about himself being lactose intolerant, he is filling up the left glass with wine and holding the bottle. In the next shot, when he says "I won't stand for it," the right glass is full and the left is empty, and the bottle is sitting on the other side of the counter. Also, when George, Donna and Jerry are discussing the Dockers commercial, the wine glasses on the counter are alternately empty, then one is half filled with wine, then both are again empty.

When Jerry is tying his tie, the collar of his shirt is disheveled in the back. Without moving his hands, the collar is corrected in the next shot.


Jerry SeinfeldJerry Seinfeld
Julia Louis-DreyfusElaine Benes
Michael RichardsKramer
Jason AlexanderGeorge Costanza
Tory PoloneCarol
Gretchen GermanDonna