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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.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.