Jeff Garlin is one of the most recognizable faces on the big screen. From Mad About You to Daddy Day Care, Curb Your Enthusiasm and now, The Goldbergs, the Chicago native rapidly worked his way through the comedic rankings to fill plenty of homes with laughter.
“At all times when I’m on the set, I realize how blessed I am,” Garlin said. “I can’t believe how wonderful it is.”
Garlin, who does everything from acting to voiceover work, script-writing and producing, has plenty to be happy about at this stage in his life.
The Goldbergs, currently on air on ABC each Wednesday night, might be one of his most popular roles yet. Garlin plays Murray Goldberg in the ’80s, a man with a hot temper and a commanding voice. It’s an average, Jewish family, set in Jenkintown, PA.
Often, Garlin plays roles that are realistic, and that fits perfectly in The Goldbergs. He’s a realistic father, who thinks his wife, Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) smothers their children too much. Of course, he has to call them “morons,” because, what else would he shout at them?
While Garlin was filming the latest season, he had multiple projects on his plate. Curb Your Enthusiasm returned to the air for its 10th season, and that meant playing two completely different characters at the same time.
“It’s not a matter of the character, but it’s a matter of the format,” he said. “The Goldbergs is tightly scripted and I have to stick with it. I’m also in the ’80s. In Curb, it’s an outline and I improvise.”
Papa Goldberg is in charge of his father-in-law’s furniture shop. But most of all, he loves to sit in front of his TV, pantless, sporting his white briefs.
And if that’s not enough to fill up his slate, Garlin’s Netflix special, Jeff Garlin: Our Man In Chicago, debuted in November. He returns to his Chicago roots, performing at Park West in the heart of the Windy City.
Throughout the 58-minute special, the bearded Garlin shares unbelievable stories about his 37-year comedic career. Though dozens of comedians have a Netflix special of their own, Garlin feels his stands out.
“I’m truly me, so that separates the special,” Garlin said. “There’s lots of improvisation that came up in the moment. In my wildest imagination, my special couldn’t have worked out more perfect. I’m just so proud of it and it’s so important to me.”
But there’s something rejuvenating about the lovable comedian, and that’s his passion for photography.
“Big Bowl of Wonderful,” Garlin’s brand-new photography exhibit, just launched at the Leica Gallery in West Hollywood, CA. The exhibit features images that Garlin has captured throughout scenes of some of his biggest shows and films, creating a unique behind-the-scenes look at life in Hollywood. Part of the proceeds from the exhibit will go to F*ck Cancer, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit “dedicated to prevention, early detection and providing emotional support and guidance to those affected by cancer.”
“My photo show—I’m a photographer—launched last Thursday in Los Angeles,” Garlin, who serves on the charity’s board of directors, said. “Part of the proceeds are going to F*ck Cancer, which is the only term you can say about cancer. I host every year the Plastic Pollution Coalition dinner. I love helping out the community and it’s really important to me.”
Through the rest of the year, Garlin will be just as busy, too.
“I’m going to be writing a lot of different things, like movies and TV shows for myself. I really am focused on the next year of promoting my special. I’m so proud of my special. I’m going to keep on keeping on.”
All of this couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for his parents, who took him to see Jimmy Durante when he was just 8 years old.
“I was always the funniest kid in school,” he proudly said. “He inspired me. I asked my parents if that’s a job. They said yes and I said, ‘That’s a job I want.’”