Interview With Comedian Jeff Garlin
With a career spanning three decades in comedy, Jeff Garlin is basking in the success he’s rightfully earned. For the past 10 years, he’s not only co-produced but also costarred alongside Larry David in HBO’s highly successful breakthrough hit Curb Your Enthusiasm, earning a remarkable 34 Primetime Emmy nominations along the way. With numerous TV and film appearances to his credit, Garlin forayed into the publishing world last year when he released, My Footprint: Carrying The Weight of The World, a literary chronicle of his experience trying to lose weight while simultaneously attempting to live a greener and more ecofriendly lifestyle. Currently Garlin is gearing up for his second annual Traverse City Comedy Festival, which he co-organizes along with documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. As the cast and crew of Curb Your Enthusiasm prepares for the eighth and perhaps final season of the series, we took a moment to speak with Jeff to find out what we can expect to see in season eight of Curb, and reminisce about his most recent favorite memory at The La Jolla Comedy Store.
Can you recall the first time you ever did stand-up?
Jeff Garlin: The first time I went on stage was one week after my twentieth birthday. It was audition night at the Comic Strip Comedy Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I passed auditions my first night.
Do you remember what your material was at the time?
I remember the majority of my set consisted of a monologue from Stripes that Bill Murray did.
So on your very first time up you were hacking material.
Yeah I was.
So after you passed auditions what happened, you just became a regular?
I started going in every night, and they would have three out-of-town acts then they’d put the local acts up, after doing five minutes each at the end of the night.
What year was this?
So this was definitely during the comedy boom. When did you decide to move back to Chicago?
I moved back to Chicago in 1984.
Why did you move back?
To do Second City and stand-up comedy.
And is that around the same time you lived with Conan O’Brien?
I lived with Conan around '86 maybe, '88. I don’t remember off hand. I’m so bad with years. I can tell you what time it is but I can’t tell you anything else.
So were you both doing comedy around Chicago at that time?
No he wasn’t doing stand-up, he was a writer on Saturday Night Live at the time and he was on a writer strike when he moved there.
When you heard what was happening with Conan and the Tonight Show what was your initial reaction?
I felt bad for Conan, that’s how I reacted. I felt that he was getting screwed.
Have you been invited to be a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay since?
No I have not.
Would you ever go if they did invite you to be a guest?
No I would not. I would go back on there if Conan called me and told me that he hated me and never wanted to see me again.
Do you think that’s a shared sentiment amongst some people in Hollywood who don't want to go back on the Tonight Show anymore because of what transpired?
No, I think that most people don’t give a shit. There’s not a lot of character running amok in Hollywood.
Speaking of Hollywood, where and how often do you perform around L.A.?
I do the Hollywood Comedy Store, and I perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade also. I have a weekly show there, and I’m about to start a monthly show at Largo, which is another club here in Los Angeles. I like performing here in Los Angeles, I don’t do the road very much. After La Jolla, next week I have a comedy festival with Michael Moore that we do in Traverse City, Michigan. And that’s next week and after that I’m not going to be on the road again until I’m performing in London in June. Just me appearing at a theater in London, I believe four nights.
Who are you taking to open up for you over there?
I have no idea who I’m going to work with in London. I may not even have an opening act.
So you do you not like touring or does acting and producing take up most of your time these days?
I’ve been on the road for years I just don’t do it as much anymore.
Well you don’t need to right?
Well it’s not a matter of needing to, it’s I don’t want to. I like being with my family, and I’m busy working on a lot of projects here in Los Angeles so I really can’t. But you know, I enjoy it very much.
How do you like the crowds in La Jolla as opposed to Los Angeles or New York?
La Jolla has, and I’m not making this up when I say La Jolla is my favorite club in the country, and it’s the best audiences in the country.
Why do you suppose that is?
I don’t have a fucking clue!?! I don’t have any idea! I have none, but all I know is I have never had a bad show, and I have never not thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I do recall a notorious story about the door guys having to throw out some people during one of your shows there a few years back.
It wasn’t some people; there were these four girls up in front who just were idiots. They just wouldn’t shut up and they were kind of; they weren’t ruining the show because I could deal with them, but they got ejected. Now, here’s what I and the audience saw when the show ended and the people went outside, the four girls were on the ground handcuffed and being arrested. So you’re probably thinking, “Geez, I’m never going to heckle or yell out at The Comedy Store.” However, what happened was the girls went out there and there was another group of girls who were also in the show, and they all got into a fight and the cops came.
So who are you bringing down this weekend to open up for you?
Mat Edgar is coming down with me again, and I also have opening for me a guy named Ian Edwards, who happens to be one of my favorite comedians. He’s really a guy who would headline, he’s just crazy funny. We had him last year at the Traverse City Comedy Festival, my comedy festival with Michael Moore, and he was one of the hits of the festival.
How long has this festival been going on?
Last year was the first year, this is our second year. Here’s what it is, it’s a non-profit the festival. And I don’t get paid to go there, the acts we bring we pay them. But the purpose of it, is it’s an area where in the middle of February there’s nothing going on, the economy’s not very good, so we thought we’d do this to sort of help the area and it has. I mean businesses thrive all the shows sell out and it’s really exciting for the area.
How long will that take place for?
It starts on a Thursday night and ends on a Sunday.
How many different comics are you inviting out there this year?
Let’s see, Patton Oswalt, Caroline Rhea, Jeffery Ross, and Bob Saget amongst others.
That sounds like an all-star line-up right there.
Yeah, last we year we had Roseanne, Mike Birbiglia, and J.B. Smoove who’s on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Whitney Cummings did it last year, it was great.
Speaking of Curb Your Enthusiasm, what can you tell us if anything about the new season?
Well the second half of the season is in New York. The first half is in Los Angeles, and that’s all I can tell you.
Does Jeff Garlin have a message for the children?
Enjoy chocolate it’s delicious.
Jeff Garlin performs at The Comedy Store in La Jolla February 4th and 5th with shows at 8:00 and 10:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20.00 with a two drink minimum. (21+)
916 Pearl St. La Jolla, 92037 - (858) 454-9176
For more info visit: Jeff Garlin at the Comedy Store