Tom's Restaurant. Photo: Molly Flores
Curb Your Enthusiasm is set to return to HBO for a 10th season on January 19. And while that series mostly takes place in Los Angeles, Larry David grew up and began his career in New York City—where he had many experiences that ended up on Seinfeld. As such, we’ve put together the following short itinerary of NYC spots crucial to understanding the comedian’s pretty, pretty, pretty strong connection to the five boroughs.
David grew up in Sheepshead Bay, a residential neighborhood in South Brooklyn. While he claimed to “feel nothing” after visiting his old stomping grounds for a 60 Minutes segment in 2015, the area did work its way into a Seinfeld episode. In “The Movie,” comedian Buckles tells Jerry that, after growing up amid the smell of the sea in Sheepshead Bay, “to this day, [he] won't eat fish.” If you’re in the area, seek out Roll-n-Roaster—known in part for its roast beef sandwiches and corn fritters.
Before he hit it big, David lived in this West 43rd Street building that provided subsidized housing for artists. Kenny Kramer was his across-the-hall neighbor in those days, though he says Seinfeld when turning him into TV character Cosmo. While David performed stand-up and tried to sell scripts like Prognosis Negative, he paid just $57 per month to stay at Manhattan Plaza. For those lucky enough to get an apartment there, the rent is still capped at 30 percent of your income.
Some of the clubs where David performed stand-up back in the day are gone (farewell, Catch a Rising Star and the Improv), but Comic Strip Live survives. As a stand-up, David was known to storm off the stage and, to hear former owner Lucien Hold tell it, “needlessly [upset] the customers.” Legend has it he might have also downed a burger or two.
Rockefeller Center. Photo: Joe Buglewicz
The Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza quits his job, only to return to the office the following workday as if nothing had happened, was based on an actual incident in Larry David’s life. The office in question was that of Saturday Night Live, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where David was a writer. He quit in frustration after too many of his sketches were cut, but then came back after realizing he needed the money. Unlike George, David somehow kept his job.
Tom's Restaurant. Photo: Molly Flores
The exterior of Monk’s Café in Seinfeld comes from this real Upper West Side diner. The restaurant owes its fame to the sitcom, but owner Mike Zoulis, busy running the place, has only watched it once. The interior appeared in a 2014 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Super Bowl commercial co-written and directed by David, starring Seinfeld and featuring Jason Alexander as George Costanza.
Larry David is a longtime Yankees fan, and in Seinfeld he supplied the voice of then-owner—and George Costanza’s boss—George Steinbrenner; Lee Bear played the body, always with his back to the camera. While the old Yankee Stadium is gone, the new version shares many architectural touches with the one where George Costanza worked.
During season 4 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry travels to New York City to star as Max Bialystock in The Producers on Broadway. The St. James Theatre, where The Producers ran from 2001 to 2007, is now home to Disney musical Frozen. Elsa would be an unconventional role for Larry, but we believe he could pull it off.
Cort Theatre. Photo: Mark E. Swartz
Art imitated life in 2015, as Larry David played the lead in Fish in the Dark, a Broadway show he also wrote (and which was inspired by the real Lloyd Braun, who’s best known for lending his name to a character on Seinfeld). David earned praise for his performance, which was fueled by plenty of healthy lentils.
Curb Your Enthusiasm airs Sunday nights at 10:30pm on HBO.