On today’s show the brilliant writer Jerry Stahl fills in for David while he’s away in Washington hanging out and recording the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Jerry’s guest is his old friend Larry Charles, who’s credits are so long and varied that we might break the internet listing them all here. But here’s a few: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bruno, Entourage, Seinfeld, Borat…the list goes on and on.
Larry Charles is best known as a staff writer for the American sitcom Seinfeld for its first 5 seasons, contributing some of the show’s darkest and most absurd storylines. He has also directed the films Borat, Religulous, Brüno, and The Dictator.
Although series co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld wrote the bulk of the show’s episodes during the first five seasons, Charles was their second in command during this period. Charles had met Seinfeld co-creator Larry David when he was part of the writing staff of the ABC sketch show Fridays, on which David and Michael Richards were also part of the show’s ensemble cast. Charles had been unable to write for the show’s first season, as he had been writing for The Arsenio Hall Show during its production.
Charles is noted for contributing some of the show’s darker storylines and scenes. In the season 2 episode “The Baby Shower” Charles wrote a dream sequence in which the title character, Jerry Seinfeld, was killed. Charles’ episodes also covered such controversial topics as Nazis (in “The Limo”), a psychotic stalker (in “The Opera”) and a hospital patient committing suicide (in “The Bris”). A season-two episode he wrote, “The Bet”, concerning Elaine buying a handgun to protect herself, was never filmed because NBC, some of the cast and the show’s director felt the gun content was too provocative. Charles claimed that his writing on Seinfeld was heavily influenced by Dragnet, Superman and Abbott and Costello.
Charles said he was instrumental in the development of Cosmo Kramer; he felt that “Jerry and George were so well-defined through Larry David and Jerry, that there was less room for me to, sort of, expand on those personas. But Kramer was very unformed at the beginning of the show and it gave me an area of creativity to, sort of, expand upon. So I spent a lot of time with Kramer because he was a character that I could have an impact on in the future of the show”. It was Charles who imbued in Kramer a distrust of authority (especially in his episodes “The Baby Shower” and “The Heart Attack”), and who created the character of Kramer’s notorious unseen friend Bob Sacamano, after his real-life friend of the same name