"I saw who was running, and I voted for the porn star."
That's Jeff Garlin on his decision to vote for Mary Carey over Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election. The stand-up comedian had a lot to say Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in a conversation where nothing was off limits, including the future of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and his recent arrest. Appearing in support of his new movie, "Dealin' With Idiots," and his upcoming ABC sitcom, "The Goldbergs," Garlin took the stage for "A Conversation with Jeff Garlin Moderated by Michael Moore." Moore, a long-time friend of Garlin and vocal commentator of pretty much everything, kept to himself for most of the evening, showing a surprising amount of self-control even when prompted by audience questions. The evening's focus was on Garlin, and the "Bowling for Columbine" director made sure to keep it there.
The duo announced at the start of the 90-minute Q&A that everything was on the table, though many of the people filling most of Kaufmann Concert Hall seemed to care about one thing: "Curb Your Enthusiasm." In regards to a future season, Garlin said, "I think yes, but not a strong yes. I think it's a good shot" He was hesitant on elaborating, but did say, "I hope [Larry David] wants to do more," before moving quickly to other topics. Garlin welcomed questions about the popular HBO show in which he plays David's agent and friend, Jeff Greene. He said his favorite episode was "Wandering Bear," admitted he's still amazed that people find it funny, and said he wouldn't be the one to ask David whether or not they'd do another season, saying that responsibility falls on Susie Essman (Jeff's wife, Susie Greene, on "Curb").
Garlin's main mission on Monday, though, was to promote his recently released comedy, "Dealin' With Idiots." Garlin wrote, directed, and stars in the IFC film about a father who gets more involved with his son's highly competitive baseball league. "I spent four years going out and having lots of meetings," Garlin said. "I wanted to make it for $2 million. IFC said, 'We'll give you $750,000.' Christine Vachon, who produced it, said, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'Let's go, motherfucker.'" Garlin shot the film in 12 days using only a 20-page outline he'd written to help actors know what each scene was about. "The actors never saw a script," Garlin said of the cast that relied heavily on improvisation. "I don't know how we made it. I never could have made this movie without my experience on 'Curb.'"
Garlin also touched on his fall sitcom, "The Goldbergs," which he described as "kind of like 'Wonder Years' meets 'All in the Family' with Jews." The '80s-set comedy focuses on an 11-year-old kid who documents his family's antics with a video camera. Fans who feared the "Curb" star had gone soft for a network paycheck had their worries quelled -- slightly. "It's mainstream, but it's not mainstream," Garlin said. "ABC will never have to tell me, 'Watch what you do.'" Garlin argued he's a responsible family man in his day-to-day life, and his actions on "Curb" and his language in stand-up are exaggerated versions of himself that can be toned down and still be funny.
The perception of Garlin as a laid back family man may have taken a hit after the comedian's arrest in Studio City, California on June 17. Reports state Garlin "became upset" over a parking spot and broke the windows of a the offending driver's vehicle. Moore and Garlin didn't get into specifics because the case has yet to go to court, but the comedian said, "I hung around not thinking I'd be arrested. I was arrested. None of the cops knew who I was, [but] all the prisoners knew who I was." Garlin admitted he was in the wrong and then joked the event would become a "great routine in his stand-up [comedy]." "It's gonna be a centerpiece. 20 minutes of my next special, guaranteed. I am an idiot and then I make it funny. That's the core of my comedy."
Garlin admitted he doesn't partake in political comedy because he gets too upset talking about it. "I'm a very sensitive person and things hit me really, really hard. I never, ever do anything political [in my stand-up] because I just get angry. I'm not funny at all." That didn't stop an audience member from asking Moore about the George Zimmerman verdict, and the protests underway in Los Angeles where Garlin lives. Moore graciously dodged the question, allowing Garlin to swoop in with a touch of sincerity and a mood-lightening joke. "All the protesting makes me happy to be alive," Garlin said to a round of applause from the room. "I'm the type of person who lays in the air conditioning and says, 'Good for you!' I'm inspired, but not enough to get up."
You can watch Garlin's film "Dealin' With Idiots" now in theaters or on demand. His sitcom, "The Goldbergs," premieres this fall on ABC. Check out the trailers for both below.