Prepare your “pretty, pretty, pretty good” jokes. Larry David’s uncomfortably honest HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm returns on October 1 after a six-year hiatus. Does this mean he was out of awkward situations for his alter ego to get into? Hah!
“I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but TV Larry is just about a quarter of an inch away from Real Larry,” David told journalists at the show’s Television Critics Association press day on Wednesday in Beverly Hills.
While he wasn’t shooting (very much in character) contemptful glares at us, he and others involved in the show were able to answer some questions about the upcoming season. Here are the highlights on that and other matters—for instance, that David is related to Bernie Sanders.
Why is Larry back now?
“Why not?” David says. “I’m not a miss-er. I don’t really miss things or people that much. But I was missing these idiots, so I thought what the hell?”
Plus, he says he got tired of people asking if the show was coming back.
“I couldn’t face that question anymore and I didn’t want to say ‘no, never’, and I kept saying ‘yeah, who knows,’ so I thought it’d be nice not to be asked that anymore,” he says.
Was the gap because he was sick of the series? Was he worried he might be out of ideas?
“I go into every season not thinking I had 10 shows,” David says, adding that when he was working on Seinfeld he “would write season endings to that show because I didn’t think I would be back.”
Plus, he says, “I like to quit things. It’s very satisfying to go up to your boss, ‘I’m done; I’ve had it. Go to hell.’”
Executive producer Jeff Schaffer says that during the show’s hiatus, David was still cooking up ideas for more episodes. “If you guys can imagine just how many uncomfortable situations he’s been in in the six years since we’ve been on,” Schaffer says. “It’s like we’re sitting on the Fort Knox of awkward.”
What has TV Larry been up to in the six years between his seasons?
“When the season starts, you’re going to find out very quickly what he’s been up to the last five years and what everyone’s been up to in the last five years,” Schaffer says. “The crazy thing is the show’s this fun, crazy place.”
“It really thematically follows Pirates of the Caribbean,” Garlin says.
Do David and his cast think Curb pushed the envelope of comedy?
“Anybody who is writing things to be provocative is probably not funny,” says Jeff Garlin, who plays Larry’s best friend, Jeff. “I don’t think he thinks about anything besides what he thinks is funny and I’m speaking for him now and that’s rude.”
What does David think of newer shows, like I’m Sorry, that have had embraced the same tone as Curb Your Enthusiasm?
“Well, you know what they say about imitation?,” he says. “I’m not insulted… it’s not helpful to be insulted. That’s what television essentially is: copying.”
What was the process like for the cast to get back into the characters?
“It was nothing. We just showed up and were just in it again,” says Susie Essman, who plays Jeff’s wife, Susie.
“I had trouble the first take,” David admits. “I thought, ‘I lost it; I’m not going to do this.’”
“I prepared by napping,” Garlin says.
Along with Essman and Garlin, other returning costars include Ted Danson, Cheryl Hines, Bob Einstein and J.B. Smoove.
“I tell people it’s a new Curb, same old Leon,” Smoove says of his role as David’s sidekick.
Season nine of Curb has a high pedigree of comedians and comedic actors as guest stars (including Savage). Was there anyone they didn’t get on the show?
“Everybody that we had hoped for and we wanted, we got,” Schaffer says. “There were some episodes that were really dependent on very key people and we wrote them before we had them. Either it was hubris or stupid, I don’t know.”
This isn’t the first time David has pulled such a stunt.
David says he wrote the series’ fourth season, which centers on his character starring in a production of the The Producers before he’d asked musical creator Mel Brooks if that was OK.
“I guess it might have been Fiddler on the Roof” if he had said no,” David says. “It’s not a good system to do that.”
Among those guest stars is Judge Judy. How did that come about?
“Judge Judy actually is in my ex-wife’s family, so I knew her,” he says.
That’s not the only familial relation gleaned from the panel.
David is also in an upcoming episode of PBS’ ancestry series Finding Your Roots, where he learns that he is related to Bernie Sanders—odd, as David portrayed the former presidential candidate on Saturday Night Live.
“He’s in the line; I swear to God,” David says. So are slaveholders. He was “thrilled” to learn about the former.
No, David does not find himself competing with Donald Trump to make the country irate.
“I think Larry’s been an inspiration to him,” jokes Essman.
“Our president is not funny and Larry’s funny, so I don’t see the competition,” adds Garlin. “I think one is completely sad and one you [use] to escape from the horribleness and the sadness.”
“Right, and one’s mentally ill and one is sane,” adds Essman.
Also, fun fact: The new season began filming the day after the election.
How does David feel about recently turning 70?
“It’s an extremely unpleasant experience. Thank you for reminding me,” he says.
Inevitably, Curb will end for real. Will it have a Seinfeld like ending and bring back everyone Larry has wronged?
David: “I braved traffic to get here and you bring up the Seinfeld finale?”
Whitney Friedlander is an entertainment journalist with, what some may argue, an unhealthy love affair with her TV. A former staff writer at both Los Angeles Times and Variety, her writing has also appeared in Esquire, Elle, Complex, Vulture, Marie Claire, Toronto Star and others. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and very photogenic cat.