For most of the "Seinfeld" years, reporters never even got to see Larry David. We talked to Jerry Seinfeld (often) and his co-stars; David was back at the office, presumably fretting or grumbling.
Now he's moved, reluctantly, into the spotlight. Here's a story I sent to papers about a David appearance Thursday on cable's Showtime:
By MIKE HUGHES
You could call it “creative
quitting.” It's worked wonders for Larry David.
The “Seinfeld” co-creator talks
about that – and much more – on the latest round of Showtime's
“Inside Comedy,” with his friend David Steinberg. “He's the
kind of guy who you just want to confide in,” David told reporters.
“You want to tell him secrets.”
The men share the Jewish tradition of
verbal wit. “They seem to have a look at life that is totally
different than we Irish people,” said Tim Conway, another “Inside
Comedy” guest this year.
That humor can seem natural. “My dad
and my uncle were always funny at dinners,” Steinberg said.
For Larry David, however, the process
was tougher. “It doesn't occur to me that anything I can do would
be successful,” he says on the show.
His mother suggested he be a mailman.
David had few options – his only skills, he said, are whistling and
parallel parking – and tried comedy. He spent two years on
“Fridays” (ABC's “Saturday Night Live” clone) and a year as
an “SNL” writer, getting only one sketch on the air.
After one of his sketches was pulled,
David angrily told “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels he was quitting.
He later realized he couldn't afford to; he came to work, pretending
nothing has happened.
Quitting became a career move after he
co-created “Seinfeld.” He quit after NBC insisted a veteran
producer work on the pilot; he quit again after NBC disliked most of
the plans for the first season.
Both times, Seinfeld stepped in. The
problems went away; David un-quit. “This saying-no thing is so
powerful,” he tells Steinberg.
David stayed (quitting often) for all
nine years of “Seinfeld”; he's done eight, so far, of “Curb
Your Enthusiasm,” a show he does his way. There are short seasons –
10 episodes last year – and no scripts; Steinberg directs some of
the episodes. HBO makes no rules; if it did, David might just quit.
– “Inside Comedy,” 11 p.m.
Thursdays, Showtime; reruns at 1 a.m.
– Larry David episode debuts Feb. 24;
it reruns at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and then Wednesday night at midnight
(technically, 12 a.m. Thursday)