A BIG BOWL OF JEFF GARLIN
Howard may be the only person in comedy who doesn't watch and love HBO's 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' so the charm of the gregarious Jeff Garlin was a new sensation for him this morning. Robin, naturally, has been a fan of Jeff and his show for years.
He stopped by this morning to yell, laugh and tell Howard some of the funny stories in his arsenal.
Here are the highlights from Howard and Jeff's conversation:
Jeff was born and almost completely raised in Chicago, but the Garlin family moved to West Fort Lauderdale when he was twelve. This wasn't so fun, because apparently that area is not very Jew-friendly. Jeff pointed out that people assume that Florida is filled with old Jews, but in reality, much of it is simply 'the South.' Like many comics before him, Jeff's ability to make people laugh got him out of all kinds of sticky situations.
After dropping out of the University of Florida to pursue a career in comedy, Jeff found himself working on the farm of future-superstars – Chicago's Second City. He was performing with Amy Sedaris, Tim Meadows, Mike Meyers, Stephen Colbert and, the one he knew would be a star above all, Steve Carell. Chris Farley was also at Second City, but left to shoot to stardom on Saturday Night Live. Jeff basically replaced Chris in the Second City main stage, even being asked to continue Chris's 'Van Down by the River' sketch. He couldn't pull it off like Chris, proving not all heavy-set men are the same.
During his time in Chicago, Jeff was roommates with fellow comedian and future talk show host Conan O'Brien. Jeff found Conan so funny that he'd wake him up in the middle of the night to do impressions – mostly, future Stern Show announcer George Takei.
Conan's George impression was apparently so great that they turned it into a running bit they would do every day – a fake talk show called 'Wild Blue Yonder.' Conan would host the show – as George – and Jeff would play the show's only two guests – TV's Batman, Adam West and himself. In the first segment, 'George' and 'Adam' would bitch about being denied residuals from Star Trek and Batman, in the second, Jeff would heckle George about his being denied residuals.
Finally, on their last show, just before Conan moved out of their apartment, Conan's 'George' took his own live, right there on live TV.
Jeff said that Conan is a great real talk show host too, when he's listening to his guest. Sometimes, though, he goes on auto-pilot.
Finally, after many of his friends and co-workers had made it, Jeff got the big shot, auditioning for Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live. It's the dream of every Second City member, and it was coming true. The audition was held in LA, and he was in line to audition behind Tom Kinney (who would later voice SpongeBob SquarePants), David Spade and Rob Schneider.
Unfortunately, by the time it was Jeff's turn, just as he was being announced, Lorne and his cronies got up and left. They had found who they needed. Jeff was devastated, and instead of delivering stand-up, he decided to open his heart and tell the audience what had happened and how downhearted he was.
Later, Jeff would get the opportunity to audition again, and this time he killed, but it turned out SNL was only looking for female performers. Jeff admitted to Howard that it was hard to watch the show sometimes, he was so bitter.
Jeff's big break came when he went to lunch with Seinfeld creator Larry David, who Jeff calls a great but unsuccessful stand-up comedian. HBO had offered Larry a special and he was wondering what to do. Jeff suggested a special about the making of a fictitious HBO special. Larry was sold, and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' was born.
The special blossomed into a whole series, and Larry writes them sort-of as he feels like it. Jeff doesn't know if there will be another season, but that always seems to be the feeling when the show is on hiatus.
Jeff is a great talk show guest, provided he's not forced to follow a horrible lead in like Jessica Alba – 'I followed her once. Deadly! Goodnight Nurse deadly! Holy shit deadly!' One show he refused to go on was the Tonight Show once Jay Leno had stolen it back from Conan. He wasn't thrilled with Jay as a host to begin with, calling him robotic – he even found a note in his dressing room before going on the show that read 'Great job tonight.' After he betrayed Jeff's good friend Conan, Jeff, like Howard, expressed their outrage and announced their refusal to do the show with Jay.
Jeff said: "I'm the only who, besides you, came out and said 'F*ck Jay Leno, I'll never do your show again!'"
Jeff worked with Julia Roberts on the movie 'Full Frontal.' He reported that Julia was nice to the cast and crew on the set, telling stories and being jovial – to everyone except Jeff. He sensed there was some kind of vibe that she didn't like him. He decided to bite the bullet and say hello to her one day. Her reaction? "It was as if I farted and called her a c*nt."
Finally, one more insult from a beautiful woman: Jeff did an episode of 'Baywatch' as a DJ (a role Howard had turned down) and, in a fantasy sequence, he was supposed to make out with Pamela Anderson. The blonde bombshell refused, using the excuse that they'd only just met. Later in the week, however, she said she'd shoot the scene.
While you wait for 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' to come back (which it may or may not), check out Jeff's other projects:
His podcast 'By The Way'
His ABC Sitcom, 'The Goldbergs'
The documentary he produced, 'Finding Vivian Maier'
And look for his upcoming ensemble movie 'Laggies'
And, as Jeff would say, 'Goodnight Nurse.'