There was no curbing the enthusiasm of audience members during the Q-and-A session portion of Sunday’s Citi Presents Larry David and David Steinberg in Conversation. Some of the more cringe-worthy moments: three women begging for hugs from Mr. David after propositioning him for dates (he obliged the hugs), one guy asking him to autograph a DVD copy of season 2 of “Curb your Enthusiasm” and then bum rushing the stage, and an aspiring female comedian desperately pleading for David to have a conversation with her “in real life,” a request that drew equal parts awkward laughter and boos. Of course, the gruff Emmy-winning “Seinfeld” co-creator handled it all with signature bone-dry wit, at one point telling a fan, “Thank you for that idiotic question.”
Produced by Carolines on Broadway’s live entertainment division and held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown L.A., it was the unexpected bursts of poignancy that made the hour-and-a-half-long conversation between these two comedians (to filch a David phrase) “prettay prettay prettay” engaging. First on the menu of topics was David’s upbringing in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and how it influenced his comic style. “It was a bunch of old Jews living on top of each other,” said David. “I had an aunt next door and my grandmother on the next floor and it was rife with comedy. I walked to school (and) the Irish kids would beat me up on the way. That’s where the bad self-image is born.” Steinberg, who directed scores of “Seinfeld” and “Curb” episodes, then asked David, “What was your mother’s expectation of you?” David’s answer: “Zero. Less than zero. She wanted me to be a mailman.”
“I had no plan,” he confessed of the period following college (where he majored in history). ”I had no idea what to do with my life.”
From his stint as the private driver for an elderly blind women (“I can’t say enough good things about a blind employer”), to an underwhelming year as a staff writer on “Saturday Night Live” (“In one season (Dick Ebersol) only put one sketch of mine on the air and it was at 12:55”), to how he and Jerry Seinfeld wrestled for creative control on “Seinfeld” (“Just say no and you get your way”), David sketched a spirited portrait of his life as a fledging stand-up comic trawling grocery store aisles for comedic material who found fame and fortune as the author of his own TV universe.
When it came to the future of HBO’s “Curb,” which quietly trailed off after season 8 with no confirmation as to whether or not it would continue for a ninth, David said, “After eight seasons on ‘Curb,’ I’m just not sure my ideas are gonna be good enough for a whole season.” When a heckler called out, “Yes, they will!” David replied, “I’ve been heckled a lot, but that was the nicest one.”
David also made sure to remind attending fans that the “Larry David” on “Curb” is not the same Larry David in real life.
“In a way I wish I was that character because he’s so honest,” said David, citing “Palestinian Chicken,” “Ski Lift” and “The Doll” among his top favorite episodes. “As Larry David on ‘Curb’ I get to say everything I want to say which I can’t in real life. It’s freeing. This was a great vehicle for me to have all of these thoughts that go unexpressed.”
Currently gearing up for his Broadway play about shiva (Jewish mourning ritual) that opens in February 2015, he’s not kicking “Curb” to the bucket just yet.
“I feel bad that I don’t have shows for them,” he told Steinberg of obsessed series fans, “and I haven’t given up the hope.”