Beverly Hills, Calif. • There are few things more fun for a television critic than interviewing Larry David. Because he goes out of his way to let us know how much he hates doing interviews … and he’s hilarious while he’s doing it.
David is returning to HBO with a new season of “Curb Your Enthusiam” on Oct. 1, and he certainly didn’t seem happy to appear before members of the Television Critics Association to promote it. But then … we’ve done this before, and he has never seemed happy about it.
Asked if the Larry character he plays in the show is becoming more lovable, David condescendingly replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “No. No, he’s not. But fascinating question.”
When another journalist directed a question at him, David retorted, “You’re talking to me?”
One critic, referencing the fact that David draws from real-life encounters for the show, asked if “people avoid you like the plague when they see you in public.” “What the [expletive]?” David bellowed. “What are these questions?”
And when asked, “How often in real life do you find yourself becoming frustrated with humans?”
“Right now. Right now,” David interrupted. “A little frustrated, yup.”
It was priceless. And highly entertaining.
Many of us in the room groaned when a colleague, unsuccessfully attempting humor, asked if David is planning “a long episode where everyone that TV Larry has ever wronged will come back to face him.”
“I guess that’s a ‘Seinfeld’ reference? A ‘Seinfeld’ finale reference?” said David, who co-created, wrote and produced that sitcom. “What are you doing? I braved traffic to get here! You’re bringing up the ‘Seinfeld’ finale? Shame on you!”
The next questioner admitted that “now I’m afraid to ask you anything.”
One critic asked why the television version of Larry plays golf instead of, perhaps, tennis.
“I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but TV Larry is just about a quarter of an inch away from real Larry,” David said. “And real Larry plays golf, so TV Larry plays golf. See how that worked?”
And if there was any doubt about what was happening in this interview — in every HBO press session with Larry David — “Curb” co-star Jeff Garlin cleared it up.
“By the way, what you’re seeing right here is actually TV Larry,” he said.
David may not like doing interviews, but he goes to the trouble of actually performing for those of us asking the questions. He gives real answers, but he’s answering them in character.
And behind the scowl, there’s a gleam in his eye. There are occasional smiles that emerge because he just can’t help himself.
Yes, David is kind of mean to us. But it’s all in good fun. And everybody in the room knows it.
This is not Donald Trump getting red in the face and arguing with and insulting journalists, most notably during his recent Trump Tower press conference.
“Here’s the thing,” said Garlin. “Our president is not funny, and Larry is funny. I think one is completely sad, and one you escape from the horribleness of the sad one.”
“Right,” agreed co-star Susie Essman. “And one is mentally ill, and one is sane.”
“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” David said.
I hope there’s a Season 10 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” just so we get to talk to David again.