Well, it turns out they are.
It was accidentally revealed during a Television Critics Association panel Wednesday to promote the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm this fall that David and Sanders really are distant cousins. The Seinfeld creator learned as much on the PBS series Finding Your Roots, the celebrity genealogy series that will air an episode centered around David later this year.
“They told me not to say anything about it. You just spilled the beans!” David admonished the reporter who asked him about the yet-to-air episode. Were there any other surprising family connections? “I’ve got Nazis in my family,” he joked. “There are slave-holders, though”—to which David’s Curb co-star J.B. Smoove, sitting to his left on the panel, teased, “I figured that.”
Still, David was pleased to learn about the connection to Sanders—“some distant cousin, I don’t know”—whom David scored an Emmy nomination for portraying on SNL last year. “I was very happy about that. I thought there must have been some connection.” Smoove then interrupted him: “To Bernie Sanders, not slave-holders. I wanted to clarify that for you.”
David also revealed how it came to be that he’d play Sanders on SNL throughout the election. Hollywood power agent Ari Emanuel, the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s character on Entourage, played a big part in it.
“During the first debate between Bernie and Hillary, Lorne Michaels got emails and calls during the debate, saying that I should be doing Bernie Sanders,” he said. Emanuel then called David after the debate and asked him what he thought about it.
“And every time I watched Bernie Sanders, I would repeat everything that he said, because I know that I can talk like that,” David said. “So I started talking to Ari, the agent, I started talking to him like Bernie.”
After Emanuel suggested David post a video of himself doing it on the internet because it’s so good, David rebuffed: “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that. That’s not me. I don’t care.’ Then I said, ‘You know, it would be a good thing for Saturday Night Live,’ not thinking in a million years...”
Emanuel immediately hung up the phone and called Michaels, and the rest is history.
Of course, David also chatted plenty about the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm during the panel, which premieres its ninth season in October, following an interminable six-year hiatus.
A sizzle reel of the new season—which David half-heartedly asked us not to talk about long after reporters started tweeting up a storm about it—opened with footage of a typically cantankerous Larry throwing a fit because shampoo won’t come out of the bottle.
In another scene, he catches a couple kissing outside his office window and implores them to stop: “You’re allowed to be happy. Just not in front of me.” In another scene, he screams at a woman for crying too loud at a funeral. And, wait for it: Larry will be a plaintiff on Judge Judy, suing a woman he claims stole his ficus plant.
He was asked what motivated him to bring the show back after all these years, and he basically admitted he was annoyed at all the times he’s been pestered about it.
When asked, “Why now?” he replied, “Why not? You know, I kinda... I’m not a misser, so to speak. I don’t really miss things, people that much. But I was missing it. And I was missing these idiots. So I thought, what the hell. And I got tired of people asking me, ‘Is the show coming back?’ I couldn’t face that question anymore.”
He revealed that fan favorites like Richard Lewis and Cheryl Hines will return, and spoke about the differences between Larry, his TV character, and another old curmudgeon with no awareness of social norms who constantly irritates people for doing things he shouldn’t do: President Trump.
“I think Larry’s been an inspiration for him,” joked co-star Susie Essman. David only offered, “Well I don’t consider myself a prick,” while Garlin stepped in to say, “Our president is not funny; Larry is funny, so I don’t see the competition. One is sad and one helps you escape from the horribleness of the sad one.”
Throughout the press conference, David had the typically stoic crowd of reporters in stitches—never more so than in response to a question that brought up the much-maligned Seinfeld finale. Shaking his head, David practically shrieked: “What are you doing? I braved traffic to get here! You brought up the Seinfeld finale? Shame on you!”
Is it October 1st yet?