For over thirty years, Jeff Garlin has been a film and TV mainstay—writing, producing and starring in comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm (coming back for its ninth season this fall) and The Goldbergs. He's also had a long career in standup comedy. He's so comfortable on stage that he says he often doesn't prepare at all for his sets. But that doesn't mean that Jeff takes his job lightly.
"It's a real important thing, comedy, to make us human and help deal with pain," he says. "Life throws a lot of pain at people. My job is to ease people's pain."
Comedy has helped Jeff deal with his own pain. He had a stroke at 37 and has struggled with his weight for years. He views food as an addiction. After seven years of sobriety—which for Jeff means staying away from sugar and processed foods—Jeff fell off the wagon when he indulged in a celebratory cookie. The occasion? One of his sons was guest starring on The Goldbergs. "Anything with a feeling brings about wanting to eat," Jeff told me. "I always say I eat Pop-Tarts raw because I don't have time to toast them. I need to shove down my feelings."
I also talked to Jeff about dealing with attention deficit disorder as an adult, slowly losing a parent, having sex in his 50s, and maintaining a fulfilling marriage. Jeff says the key to it all is being present, and tries to stay focused on whatever is in front of him. "When I sit in quiet moments and just stare at the stars, nothing pops in my head of looking back on my life," he says. "I don't like overthinking."
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