Larry David Remembers the Multiple Times He Quit ‘Seinfeld’

Righteous resignations were key to ‘Seinfeld’ success
Larry David Remembers the Multiple Times He Quit ‘Seinfeld’

“It’s tough to take orders and notes from people,” Larry David says on today’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast. “I can’t have a boss.” To prove it, David reminisced about the different times he quit Seinfeld in a petulant huff, despite describing the show as one of his first positive professional experiences. 

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“I’m always the happiest when I’m in charge of my own stuff,” David admits by way of explaining why he kept quitting the sitcom that made him a very rich man. Example #1: “The first time, (NBC) had hired a guy. After we got picked up for the first four shows, they hired somebody to be the executive producer, to be the boss,” he explains. “And he called us into his office, me and Jerry. And he gave us notes on the first couple of shows.” 

It’s not unusual for first-time creators to get network feedback but David wasn’t having it. “He talked and then when he was done talking, I looked at him and I said, ‘No.’ I said, “No, I’m not doing one thing.” And with that, David and Seinfeld left the meeting. “I said to Jerry, ‘Hey, good luck with this thing because I’m not gonna be able to do this.” The shows at this point were just scripts — no episodes had even been filmed — but David was determined to walk away. “Jerry said, ‘No, no, don’t worry about it.’ And sure enough, that was the end of that. And I didn't have to do any of the notes. Castle Rock just let me be in charge.”

Example #2 is more of the same. After a successful second season, David and Seinfeld were once again summoned to the network office. “So we go to the meeting,” he remembers. “And (NBC is) giving me things that they want in the show for the following season. Things I don't want to do. So I don't say anything. and then when the meeting's over, we gather in the parking lot and there must be like 12 of us and I said, ‘Good luck. I’m not doing it. My hand will not obey the command from my brain to write what they want me to.’” 

Another ultimatum led to another backdown from NBC. “From that point on, I never had any other problems at all. That was the end of it,” David said. Like George Costanza's impetuous resignation from Rick Barr Properties and David's own almost walk-away from Saturday Night Live, David's angry resignations didn't always end up with him leaving the job. NBC continued “giving us little notes here and there, things you could do easily. But when it came to bigger stuff, I realized that all I gotta do is say ‘No.’”

David had the luxury of saying no because he wasn’t married and had no kids, meaning there were no obligations to anyone but himself. “I wasn’t risking anything. And I had no problem going back to New York,” he says. David’s advice to young writers and other creatives? “Stay single, because that’s the only way you could really do what you want.”


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