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Larry David: The Man Behind Seinfeld

By The Editors Jun 28, 2016

Back before he became Bernie and even back before Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David was known as the man behind Seinfeld. The Laugh Factory Magazine sat down with him then in an interview that gives you a peak into the mind of a creative genius. It's pure Larry David.

The Laugh Factory Magazine:

I guess the first question should be why you granted us this interview. You're not known as someone who enjoys talking to the press.

Larry David:

You consider yourself the press?

LFM:

Well, I don't expect to attend any White House news conferences, but you know what I mean. I'm honored that you've granted us this interview.

LD:

You're an attractive man, why shouldn't I let you interview me?

LFM:

You're too kind.

LD:

I'm well aware of that.

LFM:

Let me start by asking you the obvious questions.

LD:

That sounds like an excellent strategy. Fire away.

LFM:

How has the huge success of Seinfeld affected your life?

LD:

Huge success. Right, huge success. I'm a huge success, huh?

LFM:

By most conventional definitions, yes.

LD:

The only change I can really see is that I don't have to shop for pants in stores anymore. I can just call up and they'll bring the pants right over to my house. That's no small thing. Trying on pants is one of the most humiliating things a man can suffer that doesn't involve a woman.

LFM:

Speaking of women, you got married last year.

LD:

Yeah.

LFM:

It's nice you don't wear your enthusiasm on your sleeve.

LD:

What can I say. It's a good thing, but it's not like I'm blazing any new trails here. I mean, millions of people are married. I've never picked up a paper and seen a headline that says, “Man Gets Married!”

LFM:

You got married in Las Vegas. That seems like an odd choice for the creator of Seinfeld.

LD:

WHY?

LFM:

Well, you've got this show which is so closely associated with N.Y., and which defines hip for a lot of viewers...

LD:

Where should I have gotten married­? Zabar's? We decided to get married on the spur of the moment, so where can you go besides Vegas?

LFM:

Did you gamble while you were there?

LD:

Oh yeah. Laurie and I went nuts. Like in that Albert Brooks movie Lost in America, we lost everything we had. That's the only reason I'm still working on the show. It's gonna take years to pay off our gambling debts.

LFM:

You're also expecting your first child soon.

LD:

That's amazing, isn't it? I've led this empty life for over forty years and now I can pass that heritage on and ensure that the misery will continue for at least one more generation.

LFM:

That's a pretty bleak assessment. Even coming from you. I mean, you're a newlywed, your first baby is on the way and you just moved into a beautiful new house. Surely you must see a ray of light somewhere.

LD:

Take it easy. When did you lose your sense of humor? I'm actually pretty happy.

LFM:

My first scoop­ -- Larry David happy!

LD:

I must point out however that this happiness only magnifies the utter waste my life has been up until now. I'd also like to point out that my new house was nearly destroyed by the Malibu fires the day before we moved in.

LFM:

And that would have put you right back in your usual of despair.

LD:

Not really. I was actually kind of hoping it would burn down. I mean, we hadn't moved anything in yet. Some TV news guy could have interviewed me the next day going through rubble and I would just be shrugging my shoulders saying, “Actually, we had no memories here, I'm just trying to find this phone number I think I might have dropped somewhere.”

LFM:

Do you ever worry that this new found sense of well being will sap your sense of humor out of you?

LD:

Believe me, that' not a concern. I have no sense of well­-being. There's no chance the well will run dry. Are you going to ask a lot more personal questions? I don't think anyone is interested in reading about my emotional state. It's not even that interesting to me. I thought you were going to ask me a lot of stuff about the show.

LFM:

We'll get to that. Your career is somewhat unusual by Hollywood standards. You didn't come up in the ranks in the usual sense­: writer, producer, show runner. How do you explain your success?

LD:

What? You don't think I've earned it?

LFM:

Yeah, that's exactly what I meant. You're a big phony. Look, you didn't travel the prescribed route to get where you are. You broke the rules to coin a phrase. How did that happen?

LD:

Well, obviously I was very fortunate to hook ­up with Jerry in the first place. The network was already committed to doing something with him, so I skipped a couple of hundred steps right there. Believe me, if I had gone to NBC on my own, with an idea, say, about a blind deli man, I don't think you'd be interviewing me.

LFM:

That's admirable, modest, but there's more to this than being in the right place at the right time.

LD:

To be honest with you, I think the only thing that really worked in my favor is that right from the beginning I really didn't give a (expletive) whether or not the show was a success. That's not to say I didn't want to do good work, but I wasn't about to let myself be judged by network standards. When you're not concerned with succeeding, you can work with complete freedom.

LFM:

Since success means so little to you, can we assume your Emmy is just gathering dust in the basement?

LD:

Actually I walk around with the Emmy wherever I go, but I'm very casual about it. I also like to work it into the conversation whenever I can, like, “Oh, I remember that game, it was two days after the Emmy.” Or: “I'm sorry I can't go out tonight, I dropped my Emmy on my foot.”

LFM:

Like that old Jackie Vernon bit about him trying to impress girls at the beach saying things like, “Excuse me, I seem to have lost my congressional Medal of Honor. That's alright. I have another one at home.”

LD:

(mock angry and bellowing) What are you saying? That I'm ripping off Jackie Vernon? I don't have to take this. We're the number three rated show in the whole country and when that syndication money comes rolling in, I'll buy you and your lousy magazine. I'm Larry Goddamn David.

LFM:

That's very impressive. If they ever do a remake of Citizen Kane, you're the man.

LD:

As you know, acting is my true love. I have to make sure I keep my instrument finely tuned.

LFM:

You're kidding, but you actually have acted in the past from Fridays to Saturday Night Live to a couple of Woody Allen Films (Radio Days and Another Woman).

LD:

I think the sum of total of all those performances is about twenty minutes.

LFM:

What was it like working with Woody Allen?

LD:

Yeah, I was really working with Woody Allen. He was constantly badgering me for advice. I couldn't be bothered.

LFM:

You didn't talk to him at all?

LD:

What was there to talk about -- the nuance of my performance? Like I'm gonna go up to him while he's talking to Sven Nyquist and ask him which hand to hold the coffee in.

LFM:

What about stand up? Do you miss it at all?

LD:

Well, as you know, I'm really only happy when I'm on stage. I just feed off the energy of the audience. That's what I'm all about­: people and laughter.

LFM:

I'll take that as a no.

LD:

Yeah. I'd much rather be on stage talking to a couple of retards for twenty bucks than sitting at my desk thinking up jokes for...well, let's say a few dollars more.

LFM:

You always had a reputation, deservedly so, of the ultimate comic's comic. The one guy who all the other comedians would run into the room to see.

LD:

You're saying I sucked.

LFM:

No, if I had wanted to say that I would have said, “You had a reputation as a guy who sucked.” So you have no pleasant memories at all from your stand up days?

LD:

Oh sure, in the old days...hanging out with the other comics exchanging notes...Late night bull sessions at the coffee shop...all the drugs and women.

LFM:

Really? It's kind of hard for me to picture you as a druggie.

LD:

But you have no problem picturing me with a lot of women.

LFM:

Well...

LD:

Because let me tell you something, I've had more than my share. Even back then, I exuded self-confidence, and that drives women crazy. Especially in a bald man. Women love a self-confident bald man. Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man, there's your diamond in the rough.

LFM:

In your acceptance speech at the Emmys you said, “This is all well and good, but I'm still bald.” Was that just a flip remark or does your lack of hair really weigh that heavily on you?

LD:

It was a flip remark.

LFM:

Would you ever consider transplants?

LD:

No, but you did.

LFM:

Let's move on. You won your Emmy for your story about masturbation. “The Contest.” That's not a topic usually dealt with on TV, much less a sitcom. Why did you decide it would be appropriate for Seinfeld?

LD:

You write about what you know.

LFM:

Since you're now married and starting a family, should we look for any changes in the show's content? I've often heard it said that you should write about what you know.

LD:

Yes. We're already planning some major changes along those lines for next season. Elaine will have twins and be forced to deal with the issues confronting a working mother in the '90s. Kramer's parents will move in with him. Jerry will be torn between two women but will end up marrying the black one so we can really examine racism in an urban environment.

LFM:

What about George?

LD:

George will screw one of his mother's friends. Sometimes, you have to rely on sex and bodily functions.

LFM:

What are your plans when the show is over?

LD:

Hey, I just play 'em one at a time, you know? I don't want to get caught looking ahead.

LFM:

Thanks coach. I take it you don't care to discuss your future. (At this point, for no discernible reason, Larry breaks into a few bars of “Proud Mary”.) Was that the Credence or the Tina Turner version?

LD:

I don't like to analyze my music too much. It just comes welling up out of the depths of my soul.

LFM:

There are so many undiscovered layers to you.

LD:

It's pretty amazing, isn't it? I'm a walking, talking enigma. We're a dying breed.

LFM:

What else does the public not know about Larry David?

LD:

I'm devoutly religious.

LFM:

No, you're not.

LD:

But the public doesn't know that. I think this interview is going really well.

LFM:

I guess we've gotten a little sideways here. I blame myself.

LD:

That's good, because I have no room to blame myself for anything. The only way I could blame myself for this would be to absolve myself of guilt for something else and I could never live with myself if I did that. Not that I was ever really comfortable living with myself in the first place.

LFM:

I hate to say this, but sounds a little...

LD:

Seinfedlian! See, that's the genius of the show. We're so real!

LFM:

I thought the genius was that it was a show about nothing.

LD:

C'mon baby, get hip. That was last year.

LFM:

Touché

LD:

Damn! I wanted to say touché. It's a great way to make someone think they said something clever even if you don't mean it. If someone says to you, "Why don't you go (expletive) yourself?" You simply respond “touché” and you're out of there.

LFM:

I get the feeling I'm wearing out my welcome.

LD:

Touché.
 

This article was originally published in April of 1994 and is part of our Legacy series. Take a look back and laugh with some of the greatest voices in comedy history. 

In This Story SEINFELD,INTERVIEW,NEW YORK CITY,LARRY DAVID