Dazed Digital talks to the creator of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' about watching 'Gossip Girl' and 'Seinfeld' memories...
Larry David – whatever he says in the interview below – is a comedy master. With Jerry Seinfeld he devised, wrote and produced Seinfeld - one of the most successful sitcoms in history and famously based on the concept of ‘a show about nothing.’ The smart Seinfeld fan always loved George – the atavistic, solipsistic and egotistic version of Larry David. After Seinfeld finished in 1998, he wrote and directed the movie Sour Grapes then – initially as a one-off stand-up special – created Curb Your Enthusiasm for HBO in which he seems to play himself as a retired sit-com millionaire coping the eccentricities of LA life. Now in its seventh season – which includes a full-scale Seinfeld reunion - his curmudgeonly eponymous character is in serious danger of eclipsing his former considerable glories. So when we met him in hotel near Pasadena, CA, we had to ask...
How close to the real Larry David is the on-screen Larry David?
He’s a person I would like to be.
Well, he’s honest; he’s not shackled by all these social conventions like the rest of us are. He says what he thinks. I don’t think he’s a mean person or even a curmudgeon. People say that but I don’t see him that way.
Have you ever tried to do that and get away with it, as your TV personality becomes increasingly well known?
Well, I am sort of melding with the character as time goes on, yes, and I am able to do a lot more of that.
The character is changing you?
Yes. The character is changing me.
Is that like therapy?
Yes, I love the Curb Larry and I’ve always hated this Larry so I’m becoming a little happier. Also the show allows me – well, there’s a scene in seven where I’m trying to open vacuum sealed plastic food wrapping – in real life I was doing and I cut myself. That packing is insane. I tried to write it and get the real life owner of the company on to the show and try to get him to open it… but sadly that didn’t work out.
You do get great celebrity cameos though – is that hard?
No, you just call people up and they all want to do it. We have Rosie O’Donnell in this series and I have a fight with her over the check. Let me tell you, she’s a force. She’s very formidable physically.
Where do you come up with the ideas?
I don’t know I just… I’ll look at my daughter’s doll, and think to myself, this doll could use a haircut. And if I did cut the hair, what would happen? Oh boy, my daughter would be really upset. And I can see that could be really funny.
In Seinfeld you had a running gag about how the show was created – there was a great scene with your character George in a meeting with the network boss saying they didn’t understand the show. Was that how it really happened?
Yes. (Grins widely)
And is Curb the show you were trying to make back than?
Um… Sort of, yeah. Seinfeld was pitched as a one-camera show, in fact. But that was a no sale and that’s when I said in the meeting – ‘This not the show!’ I looked at one of the guys from Castle Rock and he was going ‘oh my God, Jesus Christ, who is this guy? What the hell…’ I was just a comedian from New York telling NBC ‘this is not the show!’
What other TV comedy do you like?
I have kids. Most of the shows they watch, I’ll watch what they’re watching just to spend time with them. So I watch Gossip Girl.
Do you like it?
No, not especially but I can see why they do. I’ve watched Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven… I mean you can’t believe what I’ve had to watch. I told my daughter the other day – ‘do you know what I have had to do for you? I had to sit through Rugrats in Europe, OK? That was so painful but I love you so much that I sat through that with you.’
Do your kids watch your shows?
I didn’t let them watch for a long because it was inappropriate. Now they can watch it they don’t have any interest in it. They’ve never been a fan of the show, and they’re not a fan of their father. (Laughs)
How do you like seeing yourself on screen?
I have to edit my show every day for six hours – I’m in there with me talking. It’s brutal, to tell you the truth. I look horrible. I just can’t believe that people would watch me. It’s grotesque. I can’t even laugh at it – it’s too horrifying.
Why do people watch you then?
I don’t know. I think it’s funny. I think the stories are unpredictable. The show has a spontaneity that you don’t see everywhere because we’re improvising. I think people can relate to a lot of the things that they’re seeing on the show. So many people come up to me and go ‘I’m like you; my husband’s like you.’
The title is very un-American – curbing your enthusiasm.
Yes (laughs). I mean, who likes enthusiasm? It’s quite sickening isn’t it – to see enthusiastic people when you’re miserable. Nobody wants that. Nobody wants to ask how’s everything and hear; ‘fabulous! Things are fantastic! I feel great!’ No. You want to hear – ‘ehhhh, you know.’
How did you get into comedy?
I was living in New York and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I had odd jobs, I was a cab driver, I was a chauffer, I sold bras, I was taking acting classes but not really enjoying it and then one night I went to the Improv Comedy Club with some friends. I was going – ‘Jesus Christ, I could do this. I’m funnier than this guy. I can do this right now!’
I swear to you, I went up to the owner of the club and said – can I go on? He said ‘no, you can’t go on, have you ever done this before?’ I said no. He said – ‘you gotta come back and audition.’ Fortunately he didn’t let me on because that would have been the end of it. So I wrote some material and went down to this club in Greenwich Village and it was terrible but gradually I started to get the swing of it.
Now you’re the master…
Master? I am not a master.
Well, OK. Change of subject - you have a Seinfeld reunion in series seven. How did that happen?
I always said we would never do that, it’s a lame idea. And then I thought it might be very funny to do that on ‘Curb.’ I started to think of different scenarios, called Jerry, and he was game so I called the others, and we did it.
But why would on-screen Larry do the reunion?
That’s a very good question, and that will be answered in one of the episodes. That’s a big thing, because I would never do that, so there was a compelling reason why I decided to do it. Everybody was fantastic. It was a thrilling experience. It was really something. People are going to love it.
You’re sounding dangerously enthusiastic…
You know what? I am enthusiastic. I’m belying the title.
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 and Curb Your Enthusiasm The Complete Series S1-7 is available on DVD now, HBO Home Entertainment