‘Seinfeld’: Larry David’s Uncredited Voice Roles Ranged From Saddam Hussein to Newman
Seinfeld co-creator Larry David‘s connection to the series is evident to anyone who has taken notice. While the show’s success is often credited to its namesake, much of its humor was due to David’s guidance.
David was as crucial behind the scenes as a writer, producer, and gatekeeper of the project, but his involvement goes even more profound. While David appeared sporadically in front of the camera, his best work on the show was as a voice actor.
‘Seinfeld’ is the show about nothing
Seinfeld prided itself on being the show about nothing. Its very inception came from David and Seinfeld’s mundane banter. David spoke about its genesis in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone.
“We were in a grocery store and talking about the different products on the shelves. And we were making each other laugh. Then we both realized that this is the kind of dialogue we never really heard on television, or even movies, for that matter. So that was sort of the basis — that was just the way we communicated and the things that we talked about.”
While other shows tried to get by on elaborate setups, Seinfeld cared less about a grand, all-encompassing premise and more about the characters’ interactions. It’s no mistake that George Costanza, the bald and loud best friend of Seinfeld’s fictional self, bears more than a few resemblances to David. Between those two, Michael Richards’ Kramer, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Elaine, the show had a cast that could carry even the most bizarre plot points.
From Soup Nazis to anti-masturbation oaths, Seinfeld pushed the limits of network television and helped pave the way to the type of sardonic humor David used in his post-Seinfeld project, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Throughout the series’ run, David worked behind the scenes as a writer, producer, and occasional performer. However, his most memorable roles were often behind the scenes.
“Is anyone here a marine biologist?”
As Thought Catalog notes, David appeared on camera several times, be it a lawyer or a food truck operator. However, his most famous role in the series, outside of co-creator, is George Steinbrenner.
Based on the real-life Steinbrenner but put through the show’s filter, Steinbrenner, viewed only from behind, berated, praised, and delivered orders to George in a way that’s more in-tune with David’s schtick than anything the late owner did. However, David’s voice work didn’t stop there.
Before Wayne Knight appeared on screen as Newman, David provided his voice in an off-camera episode. From dictator Saddam Hussein to a Subway announcer and a soap opera director, David’s voice provided some of the show’s most memorable moments.
One of the series’ most memorable lines, in which David can be heard asking if anyone is a marine biologist, might best show what he brought behind the scenes. It’s a brief glimpse of what was to come when Seinfeld left the air and David got in front of the camera.
Life since ‘Seinfeld’
According to his IMDb page, David appeared in several projects before Seinfeld. However, he typically remained behind the scenes.
All of this changed in 2000, however, when David premiered Curb Your Enthusiasm. The series doubled down on the brand of humor that made Seinfeld so successful and added the type of language and situational comedy that NBC could never get away with. Since then, David has become a household name.
His on-camera work typically involves him playing a fictionalized version of himself, as he does in Curb. From Hannah Montana to Entourage and Saturday Night Live, David’s persona has become an audience favorite. So much so that those who listen in on Seinfeld will likely recognize his voice.
While David has occasionally tried his hand at something different, his most memorable roles, from cameo appearances to Curb, are typically David playing himself.
Curb is still on the air after a recent revival of the series. David, now in his seventies, is more popular than ever. Looking back, however, his roles on Seinfeld helped to shape the man we know today. For that, his career has gotten pretty, pretty good.