Julia Louis-Dreyfus Improvised the Shove That What Would Become Elaine Benes’ Signature Move


Elaine Benes is best known for her famous shoves when excited or surprised. Julia Louis-Dreyfus improvised the character’s signature move.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ big break came in the 1990s when she took on the role of Elaine Benes on Seinfeld. As the only woman in Jerry Seinfeld’s core group of friends, the character brought balance and a female perspective. She also brought her own brand of physical comedy. Like Cosmo Kramer’s signature move was sliding into Jerry’s apartment, Elaine had a signature move, too. She shoved people. Julia Louis-Dreyfus improvised the very first shove. It was the actor’s natural reaction to big news. When the audience responded well, it was added to the show regularly.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus improvised the first Elaine Benes shove on ‘Seinfeld’

Elaine Benes’ famous shoves weren’t initially written into the script. It’s something that Louis-Dreyfus brought to the series when she was feeling unseen. She added physical comedy to give herself a bit more to do with a scene, and the fans loved it.

The first time she did it, the audience erupted in laughter. After that, Elaine started shoving her male friends pretty often. During the show’s nine-season run, the shoves changed, but each time, fans laughed. Even now, decades after the series ended, the infamous shoves still generate a giggle from fans, even though they’ve likely seen the episode many times before.

A couple of the infamous shoves even got Elaine in trouble. In one episode, Elaine begins hanging out with a group of friends who are the opposite of Jerry, Kramer, and George. Elaine was enjoying her time with the group until she suddenly shoved one of them to express her elation over tickets to a show. The shove was not well-received, and she headed back to her de ella less mature but much more accepting pals.

It was part of her normal routine years earlier, though

Julia Louis-Dreyfus might have improvised the shove on Seinfeld, but there was a good reason she did it. It was a natural reaction for the feisty actor. In a profile in the New Yorker, a former colleague noted that Louis-Dreyfus’ physicality was something she was known for while still a college student. She naturally reacted to moments or statements, and the famous Elaine Benes shove was just an extension of that.

Over the years, the shove became more exaggerated, and the responses to them became more exaggerated, too. Jerry, George, and Kramer all flew off-screen at some point during the show’s nine-season run because one of Elaine’s shoves. The more exaggerated the shove, the bigger the reaction from fans. It became an important and iconic piece of the already iconic series.

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