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Larry David

(1947- )

DAVID, LARRY (1947– ), U.S. comedian, producer, and comedy writer. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of the University of Maryland in 1970, David served in the U.S. Army Reserve and spent more than a dozen years as a stand-up comedian and television comedy writer, with little success. Along the way he worked at several jobs, including an unsuccessful stint as a bra salesman, a subject he later reprised on television. In 1989 David teamed with another comedian, Jerry *Seinfeld , to create The Seinfeld Chronicles, a show famously "about nothing" that combined Seinfeld's relaxed, outer-directed humor with David's intense, inner-directed humor. Renamed Seinfeld and televised on the National Broadcasting Company network, the show, an outgrowth of the two comedians' conversations and personal experiences, became one of the most successful in television history. The weekly half-hour program ran successfully through the 1998 season with David exercising almost total creative control through the 1996 season, when he left, although he returned for the finale. The four key characters, Seinfeld, a comedian, George Costanza (portrayed by Jason *Alexander ), the over-the-top Kramer, and Elaine Benes ( Julia *Louis-Dreyfus ), a book editor, became fixtures in American homes. The bumbling Costanza character, David said, was modeled after himself. David appropriated the name of a neighbor, Kramer, who lived in his apartment building in New York, for the unpredictable Kramer figure.

David himself portrayed a number of characters on the program, including George Steinbrenner, principal owner of the New York Yankees, but he was never seen on screen. When the show was sold for syndication and reruns, David stood to earn more than $200 million.

In 2000, David created Curb Your Enthusiasm, an outrageous half-hour comedy series in which he starred with a number of his show-business friends. With largely improvised dialogue, the main character, Larry David, lives off the proceeds of Seinfeld while not doing much of anything about putting another show together. The plots were ludicrous and, because the program was televised on Home Box Office, a cable network, the language was crude and the story lines irritating, offensive, and satirically blunt. Few subjects, including the Holocaust, were out of bounds for comedy. One critic called David "the Philip Roth of situation comedy, unafraid to reveal just how devious, petty, annoying, argumentative, selfish, boorish and insensitive he can be." The show won many awards during its first four seasons.

Sources:[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.