Jonathan Crocker

Editorial Director | Journalist

Larry David: Whatever Works

Posted by Jonathan On July - 10 - 2010

Is Woody Allen a hero of yours?

Yes, he’s an idol. For sure. Maybe, one of my few.

Woody has a lot of female muses. Do you?

I think my only muse is my mother. Her voice is the most accessible to me in my life. I can hear her screaming at me many times during the day. ‘LARRY! PUT A JACKET ON! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT, YOU’RE GOING OUT IN THIS, IN THIS WEATHER WITHOUT A JACKET?’

Thinking about people like you, Woody, Groucho Marx… Why are Jews funny?

Oh boy, that is a really good question. It probably comes from the ‘shtetl’ in Europe, where everybody was living close to each other. And there’s also something about the Yiddish language that had a very jazzy, sing-song quality to it and I think because of the persecution probably over thousands of years, we’ve developed a sense of anxiety
that produces humour.

Is that why your comedy is so pessimistic?

A neurotic defective anxiety, I would say, that produces humour. We’re not able to clearly enjoy the things that the non-Jews enjoy. The history of pessimism is conducive to comedy. That’s my analysis.

That’s a good answer.

Oh, did you like my answer? Oh, thanks.

Who do you see as the next great Jewish funnyman? Seth Rogen, maybe?

Oh gee, I don’t know, I really see that much. I don’t. No. I don’t get to the movies at all any more.

How come?

Um… I don’t know. I used to go, when I was married, I would go with my wife, occasionally, but… I don’t know. I’m just not drawn to go anymore. I can’t say why. Maybe because I don’t get paper so I don’t have a listing. Hahahahaha! And it could be as simple as that, by the way. I don’t have a listing. I don’t even know what’s playing.

What does it feel like to be a cult hero for so many people?

A cult hero? Oh. Gee. Well, that’s nice to hear. But I’m not walking about in the day thinking I’m a cult hero, I can tell you that. I invariably disappoint, so lower your expectations.

Do you feel like you’ve changed comedy with Curb?

Do I feel I’ve changed comedy? Do I feel I’ve changed comedy? Well… Um… Haha. I hope I’ve had some kind of impact. But it would be wildly self-aggrandising to say I’ve changed comedy.

What is that you find so interested about the pain of human interaction?

What appeals to me mostly I think are the things that are not said among humans. All the things that go unspoken. It seems to me that most of our lives are not really truthful. The truth is really a lot quieter than most of the stuff that goes on between people. So I think that what I’m basically out for here on Curb. I think there’s an
honesty to the show, which is what people appreciate about it.

Do you enjoy making people cringe when they watch Curb?

You know, it’s interesting, because I never realised that the show would have that sort of effect on people. And then after we’d been on the air, people say, ‘I couldn’t watch that scene, I had to leave the room.’ I was shocked when people were telling me. I thought, ‘Gee, that’s pretty good.’ Haha. Just don’t leave – come back.

So what embarrasses you?

Oh. Um… What embarrasses me? I would probably say… Penises?

They are pretty embarrassing.

Yes. Yes. Mine, others, yes.

Everyone has a ‘Larry David moment’ from their lives. What’s yours?

We did a show once where I thanked a man for dinner and I didn’t thank his wife. That actually happened to me. And that was definitely a Larry David moment and she said, ‘Aren’t you going to thank me?’ And I said, ‘Well, you didn’t pay for it.’

How close are you really to the Larry David in Curb?

I find as the show goes on that I’m actually able to incorporate more of the character in my own personal life. Which I can tell you is a pleasure.

You want to be more like that Larry?

Yes, I’m hoping to. I’m trying. It’s liberating.

Do you prefer Curb or Seinfeld?

Oh, well, you know, I have two completely different roles really. Seinfeld I was just producer but Curb is really three jobs – the writing, the acting and the editing. For me, the editing is the easiest, the writing is the hardest and the acting is the most fun.

Do you have any plans to go on Twitter?

No, no, no , I don’t do any of that. I write longhand. Very, very rarely do I go on a computer. And texting… It’s very interesting. I was thinking just a second ago that sometimes that when you send these texts, you don’t get the spelling right. And it becomes very interesting to try and figure out what the person is trying to say. I
was texting my sister, saying, this is crazy, we can’t get this done.

Can you tell us about Ricky Gervais’ upcoming role in Curb?

Yeah, Ricky’s going to be on. Oh, I love Ricky. We’re friends and we get along. We along in a slightly different manner than the way the character of Ricky Gervais will be getting along with me on the show.

What’s going to happen?

Well, he’s going to be playing himself, or a version of himself and he’s going to be on Broadway, he’s going to be starring in a Broadway play… and that’s about all I can tell you. Michael J Fox is gonna be on the show soon, too.

What do you like about Gervais?

He has a very… Hahaha. I don’t know. He’s one of those guys where you look at him, he doesn’t have to say anything and you just start laughing. I was telling him that so many times I would watch The Office or Extras and as I’m watching it, I’m going, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea, what a great idea. I wish I’d thought of that.’ That’s what happens when I watch his shows: I wish I’d thought of that.

Are you a big fan of British comedy?

Well, yeah. You’re not insecure are you? Who’s better than Monty Python? I think Americans who appreciate comedy think highly of you.

What are your favourite movies?

Oh… Let’s see. I have very pedestrian tastes, you know. I could name a number of Woody Allen films that I love.

But he doesn’t like his own films, right?

Well, when you see your stuff enough times, you kinda get sick of it. Also, he doesn’t see himself the way other people see him. He thinks he’s kinda of mediocre.

Do you feel that way?

Yeah, of course, all the time. I do think the show is funny. But I have a lot doubts about what I do. I’ve heard that voice before. He’s been talking to me my whole life. And I just try not to pay too much attention to it. That voice that yammers on, you can’t listen to it really.

What would you have been if you never made it as a comedian or a writer?

Maybe a baseball announcer. When I was younger listen to the television, turn the sound off and try to announce the games. I don’t know if I had any talent for it really.

Can you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a comedian?

I was in a nightclub watching comedians with some friends. And as I watching it, it occurred to me that I was definitely funnier than that guy. And then I tried to get on. I’d never even done it. I got out of my chair and went to the owner of the club and said, ‘I’d like to go on.’ And he says, ‘Who are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m just in the audience.’ He said, ‘You’re kidding, you can’t go on.’ Thank God he turned me down. If he’d let me go up I would have failed miserably and I may never have gone on again.

What’s the secret to being a great standup?

Having nothing else in your life going for you. Yeah, it has to be like a last resort.

Now used to be penniless, now you’re worth millions. Has success changed you?

No, I think deep down I’m still the same person for sure. The externals are different but the internals are the same. I have little more confidence now than I had some years ago. But the core of who you are never changes really.

You believe that?

Yeah, I do. I was shy with girls when I was 12 and I still am. I’m 62.

Don’t some people call you a sex symbol?

They what? Haha. Really, that’s pretty funny. No. And I’m not being modest when I say that.

What makes you happy?
I’m a golfer. That’s what I do for fun. Here [in LA] you get to play all year round.

Are you any good?

I’m getting better, but I’d say I’m mediocre.

Samuel L Jackson said the reason he loves golf is that there are no
excuses: it’s just you and the ball.

Right. But there are still excuses. I disagree with him on that one. Yeah. The tee in my pocket was scratching me.

Are you always writing things down to put in episodes of Curb?

Yeah, I carry a pad around with me. Every time I write something down, people think they gave it to me. It’s not so much my friends, but people who I don’t really know so well might say something and go, ‘You’re not gonna put that in Curb, are you?’ Everybody thinks that they’re so hilarious that they gave me an idea. Usually it has nothing to do with them. My mind sort of tends towards catastrophe in many situations. I think probably that’s the source of it.

Why do you think Curb connects with so many people?

I think people appreciate the honestly of the character in much the same way that people seem to love Simon Cowell: because he’s so brutally honest. My character on the show is not as forceful as Cowell, I don’t think. But I think people just like that, because it’s so rare. It’s rare for me in my own life, so it’s actually liberating for me in a way to do it. And there’s also a spontaneity about the show that people like, because it’s improvised.

Do you ever think about stopping?

I don’t think about retiring. I do think about not doing Curb any more. I think about it very seriously. So who knows? I really don’t know how long I’m going to do it for. But right now, it’s still fun and I keep doing it. I try to think what else I could do that would be as satisfying and I can’t come up with anything.

So you don’t get bored of playing yourself?

No, I don’t seem to… Other people might do.

Publication: ShortList

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About Me

Jonathan is a London-based journalist, critic and editor. He currently works for data visualisation agency Beyond Words.



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