I decided to put this on its own page, since it’s so long and would shove all the other posts off the front page. Anyone who knows what a nerd I am knows that I listen to commentaries, often more than once. As someone who aspires to write or be creative, listening to writers, and occasionally actors, talk about stuff is fascinating. These are real human beings, doing what I want to do, in an intimate and frank setting. Anyway, these excerpts come from the Larry Sanders DVD set, where writer/creator/actor Garry Shandling re-visits some of the people who were part of his mid-90s TV show. One of these people is Jerry Seinfeld, and the following is a discussion about mostly the entertainment industry. They start off in Garry’s hotel lobby, and moves to Central Park, then to a small restaurant. I’m including this, not just because you have time for this shit when you’re unemployed, but because each man reveals some fundamental truths about the arts and people that I completely agree with. In the spirit of Jerry’s words, to be mentioned later, I have edited this conversation for the more interesting points.
(Both are in a hotel lobby, Jerry is fretting over losing one of his favorite jackets.)
Garry: I’ll tell you this right now—
Jerry: “I’ll tell you this right now…” I love when people preface statements. My favorite one is “I don’t care what you say…” What does that mean when someone says that? “I don’t care what you say…” Well, if you don’t care what I say, why are we even talking?
Garry: People in the lobby think you’re yelling at me.
[Exterior. A bench in Central Park.]
Garry: You are such a motherfucker because you are accepting the comedian-actor’s human challenge when I said “this is gonna be real” and you just came in, without your jacket, just acting real. You are a motherfucker, you can do anything.
Jerry: Especially when there’s nothing to do… This is what show business should be, just relaxing… Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to put on all these guises and phony attitudes? I watch these kids in the audience on that James Lipton Actor’s Studio show and my heart goes out to these poor kids, because to be an actor is to kind of say to the world, “I have nothing to say, and I want to become hugely famous because I can say things that other people will think of.” What a situation that is to be in, I mean, that’s heartrending, isn’t it?
Garry: You and I have always disagreed on the actor issue. Acting, and the challenge of real acting, and great acting, is being able to bring up certain human emotion and be—
Jerry: Oh please, the human emotion!
Garry: You would rather keep a container…? See that’s what the challenge is you’re duplicating human life itself in a way if you’re connected to what your own shit is. Okay, fall asleep…
Jerry: I guess, that’s fine…
Garry: I will say this— go ahead…
Jerry: No, you will say this. People always putting these things in front of their statements: “I’ll say this”, “I’ll tell you one thing…”
Garry: “Let me be honest…”
Garry: “May I say something?”
Jerry: “May I say something?” “I don’t care what you say…” I love all these prefaces that—
Garry: “It seems to be…” “Out of the blue…”
Jerry: “I’ll tell you what I think…”
Garry: “Here’s a thought that crossed my mind…”
Jerry: “Now how ’bout this?” “I’ll tell you what nobody agrees with…”
Garry: “Let me bounce something of you…” (laughter)
Jerry: That’s a good chunk.
Garry: “What I will say… ”
Jerry: What is that, to give you a moment to think? “…But, just hear me out…”
Garry: Any way you couch it, I think that getting into show business comes from more or less some core dysfunction that says “I want to be seen”, whether it’s comedy—
Jerry: Or, God forbid, maybe you have some talent, maybe it’s not all yawning chasms of human insecurity. Is it possible someone out there has some talent, and maybe they want to express that for the betterment of mankind?
Garry: You’re a very even-tempered, upbeat—
Jerry: So you think, so you say. That’s another one, “that’s what you think!”
Garry: Those are defense mechanisms, like this: “fuck you!” That’s a defense mechanism.
Jerry: “So you say..” “I guess…” That’s another one.
Garry: “If that’s what you want to believe…”
Jerry: That’s another one. “I have no argument against it, except to try and reach under and feel the underbelly of your insecurity.” “Well, you can believe that if you want…” (edit) Why do you think I have this hostility towards actors?
Garry: I think you have this hostility towards actors because it’s not comfortable for you showing all of your emotions.
Jerry: I tell you why I have hostility towards the acting profession: ’cause I don’t feel that comedians get proper recognition for succeeding at what they do, which is a much more difficult thing.
Garry: I believe that actors, and the actors I know, will acknowledge that stand-up comedians, or doing comedy, they’ll usually go, “oh my god, how do you do that—”
Jerry: I don’t care about the actors, the culture doesn’t acknowledge it.
Garry: So you don’t have a problem with the actor, it’s the culture.
Jerry: It’s the culture. “I saw him, he did the same jokes again.” You write a joke.
Garry: I will say this, they say “he’s doing the same jokes again” and yet I’m going to a Broadway show where they’ve been doing the same play for about six months now.
Jerry: Right. Where’s the whining about that?
Garry: Well, I’m going to stand up and say “my god, you’re kidding me!”
Garry: When you came on my show, you could act, and you’re doing it now, the fact that you’re sitting there being open, I would love—
Jerry: This could be a scene in a movie.
Garry: Well, I’m not making a joke, I’d have more action, and, uh, less whining about the fucking jacket. (laughter) I’d love to get you in a place where you’re in this space.
Jerry: Yeah, I’ll bet you would.
Garry: Because it’s interesting to me. You’re a successful man, a funny man—
Jerry: So what? There’s not enough acting out there? Everyone in the fucking world is acting! Every week there’s eight more movies coming out. Enough acting! When is America going to be entertained, when is it enough?
Garry: Oh, that’s a different subject. America will never be entertained enough, that’s how this country started. “In God We Trust” is just a spin, it’s a big entertainment program.
[Interior, Upper East Side restaurant]
Jerry: Editing is the most wonderful medium. I am a big fan of the edited conversation. In life, as well as art.
(One of the producers asks Jerry what it’s like to have achieved such success, with his TV show especially, at a relatively young age.)
Jerry: Well, it’s a wonderful thing, because then you have the advantage of being able to drop the money/fame baggage, and really, if you don’t have the guts to be a pure artist from the beginning— which not so many people do— you’re certainly free to do it now. But the thing about television is that it always wins in the end. Television always wins. In other words, these shows that we had, if we didn’t kill them, they would kill us. And it’s not a fair fight. And you can subdue it for a period of time, but you know it’s only stronger, and you’re only getting weaker.
Producer: Did you feel that way?
Jerry: Yes! And I knew someday— and I didn’t know when it was, it might have been the next season, it might have been the one after that— one day this thing is going to smite me down, and people are going to jump and cheer at the failure that the show has become. So the trick is to make the neat and graceful exit before it gets that chance. The people that made my show said, “look, the ratings are still going up”, I said “I don’t want to know where that line ends.” Because the only way to know is when you go past it.