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Bill Scheft is a novelist, columnist, and television writer for the Late Show With David Letterman.  His most recent book is Everything Hurts.

Don’t believe Larry David when he tells you he doesn’t resemble his screen persona, says his friend Bill Scheft.

Question: Where does Larry David get ideas for Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Bill Scheft: Larry and I used to talk about this all the time at the beginning of the show, because originally they got picked up for four episodes. He would say, “I have just enough for the 4 shows that we’re doing, but after they pick the show up, I don’t know what to do and I have no ideas. What am I supposed to do?” I said, “Larry, it’s eight in the morning. I just woke up. Please.”

It’s one of those things—the longer you do it, the more things occur to you. Of course, now Larry David, having worried about that at the beginning, figured out a way throughout the years to incorporate his life into his work. You know how you’re out at dinner with friends and somebody says something or something happens and somebody at the dinner table says, “This is just like an episode of Seinfeld”?

Okay, that may or may not happen, but when you’re with Larry David you never know when a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm is going to burst out. I’ll give you an example: a couple of years ago Larry and I were having dinner and we got to the end of the meal and I said to him, “How about some dessert?” He said to me, “No. No dessert for me. Ted Danson and I have a bet. No dessert for a year.” And I thought, “Wow. It’s Larry David. It’s Ted Danson. They’re both billionaires. The bet is no dessert for a year. I mean, the bet has got to be at least $50,000—make that $100,000, maybe a million dollars.” I said to him, “How much is the bet for?” He says, “Two hundred dollars.” I said, “Have a piece of frigging cake.”

Question: How similar is Larry to his on-screen persona?

Bill Scheft: Let me just say this about Larry David: try as he might to distance himself from the character that the world sees, he will be unsuccessful. I know this guy.

There’s a great expression, “Alcoholics are just like everybody else except more so.” And Larry David is just like the guy you see in Curb Your Enthusiasm except more so.

Question: How has fame changed Larry?

Bill Scheft: Well, let me just say this about Larry. I wish this was my line, but somebody once said about famous people--when they get famous, they don’t get better. Larry David is the exception to that, because Larry, as he has gotten better known, is much more comfortable in his skin than he used to be, and much more self aware.

I’ll give you an example. We’re at a Yankee game last year and a kid—18, 19 years old—comes up with a pen and paper and he says, “Mr. David, can I get your autograph?” Larry says to him, “Come back after the inning because this time is no good. I am in the middle of the game.” And the kid says, “Well, I can’t I’ll lose...”

“Come back in the…you know after the innings. I am watching the game.”

The kid says, “But you don’t understand, unless…”

“No you don’t understand!” Then, hearing himself do that, he burst out laughing and signed the kid’s paper.

I have to tell you: 15 years ago, that does not happen. 15 years ago, this whole scenario winds up in small claims court.


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