Podcast / The Time of Monsters / Apr 14, 2024

Is Larry David the Last Man?

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Daniel Bessner talks about Jewish comedy, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer
The Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer

The Time of Monsters podcast features Nation national-affairs correspondent Jeet Heer’s signature blend of political culture and cultural politics. Each week, he’ll host in-depth conversations with urgent voices on the most pressing issues of our time.

Marty Peretz And The Neoliberal Reckoning
byThe Nation Company LLC

Marty Peretz has led a large life, one he recounts with aplomb in his autobiography The Controversialist. As long time publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic, from 1974 to 2011, he transformed the venerable liberal magazine into an organ of neoliberalism, with a politics that emphasized deregulation of the economy, scaling back the welfare state, militant Zionism, and an aggressive foreign policy (leading the magazine to support the disastrous Iraq War in 2003). Coupled with the magazine, Peretz used his second wife’s vast fortune to create an political network that extended to many nodes of elite power: Harvard, Wall Street and even the White House (Vice President Al Gore was Peretz’s protégé).

I wrote about Peretz’s life and also the largescale damage done by his politics in a recent review of his memoir. Frequent guest of the show David Klion, who wrote about the memoir for The Baffler, joined the The Time of Monsters for a spirited discussion of a memorable life. Also relevant to this discussion is David’s review of Liberties, a magazine founded by Peretz’s longtime crony Leon Wieseltier.

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Larry David on April 18, 2024, in Hollywood, California.

(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

As cocreator of Seinfeld and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David has dominated American television for more than three decades. The recent airing of the final episode of Curb, which mirrored the plot of the final episode of Seinfeld, marks the end of the era.

To discuss Larry David’s legacy on The Time of Monsters, I was joined by historian Daniel Bessner, who wrote an essay about the comedian for The Nation. In a wide-ranging talk, Daniel places David’s career in the trajectory of Jewish American comedy, looking at both predecessors (Mel Brooks, Woody Allen) and successors (Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen). We take up the comedy of rudeness and the humor of shared frailty, as well as the question of David’s somehow evading cancel culture. Tying in with Daniel’s earlier writings on Francis Fukuyama, we also ask if David is the singular comedian of the end of history and the embodiment of the “last man” that Nietzsche feared would one day dominate the world.

The Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer
The Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer

The Time of Monsters podcast features Nation national-affairs correspondent Jeet Heer’s signature blend of political culture and cultural politics. Each week, he’ll host in-depth conversations with urgent voices on the most pressing issues of our time.

Marty Peretz And The Neoliberal Reckoning
byThe Nation Company LLC

Marty Peretz has led a large life, one he recounts with aplomb in his autobiography The Controversialist. As long time publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic, from 1974 to 2011, he transformed the venerable liberal magazine into an organ of neoliberalism, with a politics that emphasized deregulation of the economy, scaling back the welfare state, militant Zionism, and an aggressive foreign policy (leading the magazine to support the disastrous Iraq War in 2003). Coupled with the magazine, Peretz used his second wife’s vast fortune to create an political network that extended to many nodes of elite power: Harvard, Wall Street and even the White House (Vice President Al Gore was Peretz’s protégé).

I wrote about Peretz’s life and also the largescale damage done by his politics in a recent review of his memoir. Frequent guest of the show David Klion, who wrote about the memoir for The Baffler, joined the The Time of Monsters for a spirited discussion of a memorable life. Also relevant to this discussion is David’s review of Liberties, a magazine founded by Peretz’s longtime crony Leon Wieseltier.

Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

Privacy & Opt-Out: https://redcircle.com/privacy

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Jeet Heer

Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation and host of the weekly Nation podcast, The Time of Monsters. He also pens the monthly column “Morbid Symptoms.” The author of In Love with Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman (2013) and Sweet Lechery: Reviews, Essays and Profiles (2014), Heer has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Prospect, The GuardianThe New Republic, and The Boston Globe.

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