We got a chance to see Larry David, the creator of “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and the recent HBO film “Clear History,” talk with comic David Steinberg as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
David, who plays himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was surprisingly candid about what he’s like in real life. He was everything we hoped he would be in person: bitter, pessimistic, snippy and open about being anti-social.
David, who is recently divorced (as is his character on “Curb”), talked briefly about what’s next for him professionally: he’s in the process of writing a play.
We compiled the most lively anecdotes from David’s talk:
1. David’s mother told him that he should aspire to be a mailman. When growing up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, David’s mother made him take the civil service exam, and he failed.
2. After college, David was a chauffeur for an half-blind elderly woman in New York City. The woman asked him to wear a uniform and he hated it, but because she was half-blind, David never wore one, even though he assured her that he did.
3. David decided that he wanted to be a stand-up comedian on a whim. He thrived on taking the easy way out, it seemed like an easy profession, and a woman he knew from New Jersey told him he should do it.
4. David’s foray into standup almost happened one night when he was sitting in the audience at the Improv in New York. He thought it looked easy, so he walked up to Bud Friedman, the founder of the Improv, and asked him to let him go on stage. David had nothing prepared and assumed the comedians were making their jokes up on the spot. Thankfully, according to David, Friedman didn’t let him perform that night.
5. Part of the reason David says he “bombed” early during his standup career was because he had no interest in warming up the audience. He didn’t like to say things like “How are you all doing tonight?” David said, “They’re all sitting in the audience, so they’re obviously doing fine!”
6. David quit “SNL” and then came back the next day. David wrote for “Saturday Night Live” for one season, and only got one of his sketches in the entire season– the last sketch of the night just before 1am. He was so frustrated that he quit in front of the producer (and entire staff) one night during taping. David went home and immediately regretted the decision, being that it was his only source of income. His neighbour, upon whom he based the character of Kramer, suggested he go back to work the next day and pretend that none of it happened. He did.
7. The premise for “Seinfeld” originated from a chat in a grocery store. After NBC showed an interest in doing a show with Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld asked David to work with him. One night David and Seinfeld stopped off at a grocery store to pick up a few things up. They spent time making jokes about the products in the store, and David said, “This is what the show should be about.” Just people, talking.
8. David has some advice for aspiring comedians: “Stay single.” (It’s cheaper, he says.)
9. Even when “Seinfeld” was the #1 show on television, David’s mother couldn’t stop herself from kvetching about her son’s future. She would call David up and ask, “Do the executives like you? Do you think they’ll keep you on next season?”
10. NBC executives hated the “Chinese Restaurant” episode of “Seinfeld.” David said was one of his favourite episodes of the first season. He cites it as one of the many times he nearly quit Seinfeld.
11. After getting divorced recently, David thinks he’s become too “quirky” to date. He can’t stand sleeping in the same bed as someone, which hurts women’s feelings.
12. When asked what his worst quality is, David didn’t hesitate: “Unbridled narcissism.”
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