A Terse Interview With Larry David

A Terse Interview With Larry David (photo)

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Jewish-American funnymen Larry David and Woody Allen, the “last of the schlemiels” as a recent New York magazine cover story dubbed them, have technically collaborated three times now. David — the co-creator of “Seinfeld” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (its seventh season will premiere this fall) — had bit roles in Allen’s “Radio Days” (as a Communist neighbor) and his segment of the “New York Stories” omnibus (as a theater manager). But in the new comedy “Whatever Works,” the Woodster’s long-awaited return to NYC filmmaking, David slouches front and center as Boris Yellnikoff, a misanthropic former physicist who takes an impressionable Southern runaway (Evan Rachel Wood) under his wing. My ears hadn’t yet popped as I landed in Oklahoma City for the deadCENTER Film Festival a mere 15 minutes before talking to David by phone. Much like his other interviews, the guy certainly doesn’t give journalists much to work with, which I soon called him on.

Mr. David?

[crunching] I’m eating a pretzel.

I’m glad I caught you. I just got off a plane in Oklahoma City.

Is that where you are? Is the pretzel bothering you?

Not at all. So, I read that Woody Allen wrote “Whatever Works” back in the ’70s, and I’m curious if you had any involvement in reshaping the character or story for the present day.

I didn’t have anything to do with that. I know there was a reference or two about my being bald, so I’m sure once I got the part, he did a little bit of work on it. I wasn’t even aware that it was written for Zero Mostel in the ’70s until a few weeks ago. I just worked off the script.

Why do you think people assume Boris is meant as the film’s stand-in for Woody?

They do that with all his movies, though. They think all his movies are autobiographical and I’m sure it bothers him, because it’s not the case. Obviously, part of him has to be in some of the characters, but that’s not to say that the character is him.

Throughout the film, Boris claims to be a genius. Have you ever met a bona fide genius?

Probably. Woody Allen is somebody I could put in that character, but other than that, no.

You’ve never met another genius?

Who? My cousin Arthur? I don’t know.

Boris has to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing his hands. Are you OCD about anything?

I am, yes. I don’t like to say anything good. I feel like I’ll jinx myself. Like, if I’m playing golf or something, I won’t even say to somebody, “Boy, I’m really playing great today.” Because then, I’ll go right into the toilet. So I always refrain from any kind of immodest remark.

06172009_WhateverWorks2.jpgYou’re just always waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Yes, exactly. And it does, without fail.

Boris is similarly exasperated like your character on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” With what personality traits does the fake Larry end and the real one begin?

From the character I play on the show? The only difference is he’s much more honest than I am. He’s brutally honest, and I am not. People seem to think that he’s cranky, I get that. I don’t see him as a curmudgeon. I just think he’s honest, and he gets in confrontations with people because he’s honest. I am not honest. Because of this very delicate, socially balanced world we live in, you can’t talk like that.

Boris is a vehement atheist. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?

I do, yes. I’m not like that. I believe in something.

Care to elaborate?

No, it’s corny enough as it is. [laughs]

Especially after shooting in New York, what do you miss most about living there?

Knicks. Yankees.

What do you miss least?

The cold.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.