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While his deviant behavior baffled audience, it would ultimately become the root for David's success
Discomfort and brilliance, all wrapped up in a bald package
Lawrence Gene David, born July 2, 1947, was raised in Brooklyn, NY. Following a degree in History from the University of Maryland, David enlisted in the Air National Guard. While on active duty David took some acting classes. These classes would eventually fuel the funny-man to find his calling. "It began to dawn on me that my country needed me more at home than overseas." He was discharged one year before serving his full term and returned to New York to take his bite out of the Big Apple's stand-up comedy scene.
However, his bite was anything but sweet. Now, unlike the typical commercial stand-up comic who greets his audience and mercilessly begs for any type of positive response, Larry David's approach was somewhat gauche. If the comedian saw even one audience member disengaged, or if the room was not giving the response he was looking for, David would simply exit the stage. "I'm very temperamental. Don't piss me off." While his deviant behavior baffled audience and fellow comedians, it would ultimately become the root for David's success.
Though success did not come easy. Throughout David's stand-up days he worked a number of odd jobs in order to pay the rent. These included limo driver, paralegal, T.V. repairman, and he even worked for a brassiere wholesaler (yes, you read that right). As doubt started to filter in, Larry David began scouting potential homes in the streets of New York. "I was planning on my future as a homeless person. I had a really good spot picked out."
One could arguably say David caught his big break in 1984 getting hired on as a writer for SNL, yet only one of his sketches ever made it onto the show. In typical Larry David fashion, his temper got the best of him and he quit mid-season during a taping, throwing a tantrum and yelling at then Executive Producer, Dick Ebersole. After a weekend's deliberation and following the advice of then neighbor Kenny Kramer (inspiration for Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer), David returned to the writer's table the following Monday as if nothing ever happened. No one said a word and he continued his work at SNL.
Shortly after, fellow comedian and close friend Jerry Seinfeld approached David and asked if he would co-create a "show about nothing." An absurd show that would soon become a cultural phenomenon. Seinfeld challenged its archetypal sitcom predecessors by discarding moral lessons and going by the mantra, "No hugging, no learning." The majority of the plot lines were a direct influence from David and Seinfeld's life events. In fact Jason Alexander's character, George Costanza (often described as cheap, insecure, and neurotic), is loosely based off of Larry David. "You write about what you know."
Seinfeld ran for 9 seasons, garnered 10 Emmy's and 3 Golden Globes, and was sold into syndication for $1.7 billion, earning Larry David an upfront $250 million paycheck. With his name etched in comedy's stone and a cushy fortune in the bank, David decided to seize the opportunity and roll his dice on screen as well as off.
Curb Your Enthusiasm premiered in October of 2000 on HBO, created by and starring Larry David as an extreme characterization of himself. The mockumentary style comedy revolves around a neurotic and unpredictable Larry David in his constant awkward faux pas and socially inept encounters. The show, which has had an 8 season run, is currently on hiatus but the doors have not been closed to a 9th season. Once considered a "cult" favorite, Curb Your Enthusiasm is now critically acclaimed and continues to cultivate new audience.
From George Costanza to Larry David, from Seinfeld to Curb Your Enthusiasm, one thing is certain'quirky works. Good thing that filter-less stand-up comic refused to succumb to the humdrum monotony of the commercial world. We all needed a bit of Jerry, George, Elaine, Cosmo and Larry. And now, according to HBO, we'll meet a bit of "Lenny" in David's newly acquired untitled network film. Though little has been released on the film, you can guarantee that if it's akin to his prior work, this film will leave you with sore cheeks and a 6 pack.
Once a struggling artist who never gave up and never gave in, Larry David is now a household name, a syndrome, and one of entertainment's top comedians who has given this world a lot more laughter. "Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man- there's your diamond in the rough."
Janelle Velasquez, Entertainment Columnist: Proud Seattle native who has bounced around the corners of the US. B.F.A. from Ithaca College in upstate NY where I fell in love with Thai food, hippies, and underground bluegrass. MBA from Pepperdine University where I discovered Warren Buffet and I started our careers in the exact same way (paper route). I recently helped David Byrne tell the story of the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos under a disco ball at New York's Public Theater (Here Lies Love) and I've popped into a few television shows... (more...)