Kenny Kramer in 2007
Kenny Kramer (born May 1943) is an American stand-up comedian and is the real-life inspiration for the character of Cosmo Kramer from the television sitcom Seinfeld.
Prior to his fame as the "real-life" Kramer in Seinfeld, he enjoyed a spotty career as a stand-up comedian, and worked as the manager for a British reggae band. Kramer sought to manage Bill Beason, a New York point karate fighter/champion, with the hopes that the karate tournament scene would develop along the same lines as wrestling had, since corporate sponsors such as Budweiser and Paul Mitchell were emerging. It proved unsuccessful.
Just as the character of Jerry Seinfeld lived across the hall from Cosmo Kramer in the television show, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David lived across the hall from Kenny for six years. The two lived in Manhattan Plaza, a federally assisted apartment complex for performing artists in Hell's Kitchen, New York City.
Michael Richards did not meet with Kenny to study the character and actually wanted nothing to do with him at all, a situation later parodied in the Seinfeld fourth season episode "The Pilot". The character was originally going to be named "Kessler" (parodied when he and Jerry are shown meeting for the first time in "The Betrayal"), due to Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's (eventually justified) fear that using the name might spur the real Kramer to exploit his association with the character. However, they eventually came to the conclusion that the name was too good not to use. Kenny Kramer then proceeded to contact Castle Rock Entertainment with a list of several demands, many of which were financial, for the use of his name. One demand not met was that Kenny would get to play Kramer, which is also parodied in "The Pilot".
Kenny has been the host of Kramer's Reality Tour and Kramer's Reality Road Show for the past thirteen years. He tells behind-the-scene Seinfeld stories to his audience and gives a bus tour of sites made famous by Seinfeld. A DVD version of his reality tour has been produced.
The "Reality Tours" were later spoofed on Seinfeld in the episode "The Muffin Tops", when the Cosmo Kramer character receives money from catalog sales company owner J. Peterman for the use of his various stories in Peterman's biography; he develops a reality bus tour and touts himself as "The Real J. Peterman."
The relationship between "Cosmo Kramer" and Kenny Kramer is explored in the featurette "Kramer vs. Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo", on the 3rd season Seinfeld DVD.
After achieving fame due to Seinfeld, Kramer has worked as a correspondent for Hard Copy; created and hosted "Kramer's New York" segments for the Fox New York City affiliate WNYW's Good Day New York; and appeared in the original New York company of Tony n' Tina's Wedding, playing himself. He has made numerous appearances on the bonus features of the Seinfeld DVD series.
In 1997, Kramer attempted to gain the Democratic Party nomination for New York mayor; he claimed that his candidacy was "quite serious," saying that he wanted to represent "a lot of disfranchised Democrats out there." He did not get the nomination. In 2001, Kramer was asked by a television reporter about running again, and he replied that "if Jesse Ventura can be governor, why can't I be mayor?" The next day, the Libertarian Party contacted him to run on its ticket, and he accepted. He cited his agreement with the Libertarian Party on, among other issues, the decriminalization of marijuana. During his run, he claimed that the previous run was "a publicity stunt"; his campaign slogan was "Kramer for mayor...this time I'm not kidding!" He finished seventh in the election, with 1,408 votes.