Actor and Comedian Jeff Garlin on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Zach Galifianakis, and his new television gig
Jeff Garlin already knew he was funny in nursery school, when he saw he could make the kids in his class laugh. Lucky for him, his enthusiasm enabled him to make a career out it. Best known for his stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm (his idea, by the way) alongside Larry David, he continues to add to his resume. In Garlin’s new movie Dealin’ with Idiots, which he wrote, directed, and starred in, his character is a natural fit, being that he is a comedian and father. When asked if this film imitated his experience with his own sons, the fifty-one-year old said, “A lot of it is from watching my older son when he was playing organized baseball.” This fall, you can also see him on a new ABC comedy, The Goldbergs. Garlin visits the 92 Y on July 15th, where he will be showing and discussing clips from his comedic career with his friend Michael Moore as the moderator.
I used to work at Rizzoli Bookstore. I feel like I saw you there once.
Oh yeah, you saw me there. Every time I go to New York, I’m in Rizzoli, since I’m usually around midtown. It’s a great bookstore.
Where are your favorite places in New York City?
Gosh, that’s really hard. You have to give me an area, then I’d name two or three places. I love walking. I take a lot of pictures; I’m into photography. So, for me, if I’m outside and taking pictures, I’m thrilled. I like going to museums, walking through the park. There’s not a time- whether it’s the middle of winter or summer- that I’m in New York and not happy.
You started your career at Second City improv theater in Chicago, right?
I started before Second City, although I look at Second City as when things started coming together for me. I started when I was 20 years old at The Comic Strip in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Many people know you from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I read that you weren’t originally supposed to act in that.
Right. The original idea for it was mine. Then I approached Larry. It was Larry’s idea to have me be a producer and play his manager. I was just going to direct it.
Back then, did you ever think the show would become so popular?
No, no, no no no! I thought we were lucky to make a special. And then when we were filming the special, Larry said, “Wouldn’t this be fun to do as a series?” And I thought, “Yeah, I’ll do a series with Larry David and it’ll take off. Sure, like that’s really gonna happen.” And then we started filming the series and I thought to myself, “Well we think it’s funny. I don’t know if other people are gonna think it’s funny.” And other people did.
You wrote a book called My Footprint. Can you explain what it’s about?
The book is about two things- I decided to lose weight and go green while we were filming the “Seinfel”d season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I’m still as green as I was, which is I’m just conscious and thoughtful, and as far as the weight, I’m lighter than I’ve ever been and still eating very healthy.
When did you first know that you were funny?
There are two answers to that. In nursery school, I was around a lot of kids and made them laugh. I was always the funniest kid in school starting from nursery school. I knew I wanted to be a comedian when I was probably eight years old. I saw Jimmy Durante and asked my parents if that was a job and they said it was. So I said, “That’s the job that I want.”
You play a father who’s a comedian in Dealin’ with Idiots. Did this come from your real life?
Some of it is from my own life, that’s for sure.
You’re in a new comedy, “The Goldbergs,” which is set in the ‘80s. I watched the trailer. It looks so cute!
I’m rather shocked that I’m on a new show on ABC because that’s not something that I wanted to do. But I got the script and it was so funny. And then they said that I could still do “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” so if Curb comes back, I can do that too.
You also released a podcast with a bunch of famous people.
It’s a conversation that I have in a theater in LA called Largo. We’ve been recording for a while, not knowing what to do with them. And then this podcast company, Earwolf, asked if we wanted to do a podcast. I said, “Great. We’ll put it out that way. It will be free for people.”
I like the one you did with Zach Galifianakis. I couldn’t believe that he’s the only person you follow on Twitter.
I was also following the Dalai Lama, but he Tweeted too much.
Michael Moore is moderating your event at the 92 Y. What is your connection to him?
We’re friends. We have a comedy festival together that we do in Traverse City, Michigan.
What are your future plans?
To be as enlightened a person as possible and do what I can to make the world better for everybody.
Dealin’ with Idiots opens on July 17th at the IFC Center.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffgarlin
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