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September 2007

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Fall TV Preview: Larry David

This is part of our Fall TV Preview in the Sep/Oct 2007 issue.

Last season he tackled Gentiles, mezuzahs, and a near-death experience. What's in store when the show returns this month?

Just how close to the cranky, ornery master of the comically awkward social situation is the real Larry David to the semi-fictionalized version of himself that he portrays on HBO's unscripted comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm? "There's a very fine line between TV Larry and me. Very close, very close," admits David, though he does draw a distinction between them. "I really love the guy who's on that show. I love that guy because he says everything that I'm thinking and feeling and he doesn't have to behave in a way that society really wants everybody to behave. I love being that honest. I wish I could be that way in my life. I'm getting closer to him every day, let's put it that way," he says.

Ending speculation that Curb's fourth season would be its last, David wrote ten new episodes when he realized how bored he felt after it ended. "I thought, 'What am I going to do now? This is very uncomfortable. I'd better do another season.

"Every season that I do is my last season -- that's the only way I can get through it," he continues. "If I thought that I had to come back and do it again, I would never do it in the first place. So the way I trick myself is to tell everybody that it's my last season. And then after it's over, I go, 'Oh, maybe I'll do another one.'" Not surprisingly, season five is left open ended.

"We'll just see when I get back to my desk in October if I want to do it again. It's possible," David notes, adding that Curb offers him a less pressured situation than he had as the co-creator of Seinfeld. "I don't have to keep writing shows under deadline. I can write at my leisure and we don't film until all the shows are written. On Seinfeld it was week to week, I was working weekends a lot of the time and it was more stressful."

Both shows have a decidedly Jewish sensibility in common, but David claims not to be conscious of it. "I'm not one of these guys that goes 'Hey, I'm a Jew. I'm a Jew. I'm a Jew.' I don't do that," noting that his lower-middle-class Brooklyn upbringing was more of an influential factor. "People were screaming and yelling all the time and the neighbors could hear everything that happened in that very tiny apartment. I guess I have a lot of experiences as a Jew that sometimes find their way into the show," he concedes, "but I don't think the show is for Jews just as I don't think Seinfeld was for Jews. I think everybody can appreciate it if they have a sense of humor. I don't feel that it's a Jewish show at all."

David, who started out in standup comedy, would never have gone into show business had he listened to his mother. "She said, 'You're not special, Larry.' She begged me to take a Civil Service test to work in the post office. That was her dream for me, to work in the post office. I thought, 'Maybe she's right, it's not such a bad job.' But I didn't take the test."

Fortunately he listened to people who told him he was funny, but insists that he never got much encouragement from others, especially early on. "Nobody told me to believe in myself, and if they did, I wouldn't have believed them," he says. Nevertheless, he gave standup a shot. "It takes a lot of courage to walk out on stage and try to make people laugh. It's a very daunting thing to do. It requires a particular constitution," he reflects, but doesn't rule out doing more of it.

"It's something I am thinking about. I don't know what venues it would be. I have no act. I have nothing right now. It's something I'd have to put a lot of work into," he says, though he allows that his divorce from his environmental activist wife Laurie would be a topic of discussion. "If I was going on stage of course I would talk about it. How could I not?" he asks, agreeing that personal adversity can fuel creativity. "When something bad happens you generally can use it to some degree," he says.

The father of two daughters, ages 11 and 13, David recently appeared as himself on an episode of the Disney Channel hit Hannah Montana. "My daughter is a big fan of the show so I took her to a taping, and the following week the producer called and asked me if I wanted to be on it with my daughters." Did his cred as a cool dad rise as a result? "It did," he nods. "For two days."

Curb Your Enthusiasm premieres Sep. 9 at 10 PM on HBO.

-- Text by Gerri Miller / Photo by Claudette Barius.

This is part of our Fall TV Preview in the Sep/Oct 2007 issue.
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