Jeff Garlin’s Work-Life is Barely Balanced

Actor, comedian and director Jeff Garlin riffs on his work-life chaos, which this essay only adds to
Jeff Garlin’s Work-Life is Barely Balanced

Illustration Jason Raish

i’m writing this on the eve of my deadline. I’m sure you have lots of questions. I know I have lots of concerns. First off, yes, I’m an AAdvantage member. Now, with that out of the way, let me just state that I know why I’m writing this. Hold on, my son just interrupted me. Now, my wife. We are discussing what we’re having for dinner. I agree with them so I can get back to writing this essay. I know this sounds like filler. It’s not. I take great pride in what I write.

Hold on, my wife just came back in. There is a change in dinner, plus she wants to show me a video on her phone. She leaves with the joy of someone who has just interrupted someone for no good reason. Maybe I should have stronger boundaries when I write. But that’s not the reason I’m writing this. The first reason is your enjoyment on a flight. The second reason is hopefully I will build up enough goodwill to get you to watch my new Netflix movie. I’ll talk about that briefly at the end, if I can remember. But first, the reason why I’m writing this from home on the eve of my deadline.

I have attention deficit disorder. Because of that, I have to overcompensate when I have a task—get to it and finish it as soon as possible. I love the feeling of completing tasks early. However, for the past seven months, I have been in crisis mode, mostly because I have ignorantly agreed to film both The Goldbergs and Curb Your Enthusiasm at the same time. Goldbergs is a sweet and fun family show. Takes place in the 1980s. Very successful. Excellent ratings and people love it. Wednesdays on the ABC television network.

Curb Your Enthusiasm is a very adult comedy. I don’t know about the ratings, but many people are obsessed. It’s coming back after a five-year hiatus this fall on the HBO. I say the HBO because I want to. To answer your question, I don’t know how I’m doing it. I’m just doing it.

Sometimes, I do both shows in the same day. I start off styled as a gruff dad in the ’80s with pleated pants and puffy hair. Then, I wash that off and put on a suit, and I am made to look like an oh-so-handsome modern man.

Also, the process of filming both shows couldn’t be more different. The Goldbergs has a script that needs to be just about letter-perfect, while Curb Your Enthusiasm is improvised from an outline. It’s a detailed outline written by Larry David—a very important man—but nonetheless the dialogue is improvised. So, between those two shows, having a family, exercising and eating right (I made up the last two), it’s been tough to complete any other tasks. I am happy I did this one. I hope you are, too.

Also, don’t let me forget about Handsome, the first Netflix Mystery Movie. I play a Los Angeles homicide detective named Gene Handsome who tries to make sense of his life as he solves crimes. He is really good at one of those. See, I knew I could do it.

Jeff Garlin is the author of Curbing It and My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World. His new film, Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie, premieres May 5.