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Face-Off: Woody Allen vs. Larry David

07.25.2013by: Mathew Plale
Last week, your votes were just about split in the battle of the Batmen, with no clear winner between Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. As far as other Caped Crusaders you’d most trust to protect Gotham City, Val Kilmer managed a distant third, while George Clooney ranked just as high as Will Friedle’s voice.

With Woody Allen’s latest feature, BLUE JASMINE, due out on Friday, this week’s FACE-OFF considers who would win out between the two most neurotic and misanthropic New York Jews to ever grace the screen: Allen or Larry David.

Quotes
“There have been times when I've thought of suicide but with my luck it'd probably be a temporary solution.”

“To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.”

“Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.”

“I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.”

“Basically my wife was immature. I'd be at home in the bath and she'd come in and sink my boats.”
“Hear the birds? Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m deaf and I try to imagine what it’s like not to be able to hear them. It’s not that bad.”

“Let me tell you something; I do hate myself, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish.”

“I’d rather have the thieves than the neighbors – the thieves don’t impose. Thieves just want your things, neighbors want your time.”

“I tolerate lactose like I tolerate people.”

“I don’t tell my wife anything. I don’t confide in her. I don’t trust anybody. I just treat her like an acquaintance.”
Body of Work
Allen got his start as a television comedy writer in the 1950s, then moved to stand-up and plays in the ‘60s. It was that same decade that he made his directorial debut and he’s averaged about a film per year since, with more than 40 feature films to his credit, with his most notable works being ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. Allen has certainly had his duds (SCOOP, JADE SCORPION, SEPTEMBER, ANYTHING ELSE), but his longevity in the industry speaks louder volumes.
David began as a stand-up comedian before becoming a writer for FRIDAYS and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in the ‘80s. And then came SEINFELD, which aired on NBC for 180 episodes. Two years later came the similarly structured/humored CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, which has been on HBO for eight seasons and 80 episodes. (As for other TV credits, we feel obliged to list his appearance on HANNAH MONTANA). David has been involved with a handful of movies, including the rotten tomato known as SOUR GRAPES and a handful of Allen films, most notably WHATEVER WORKS, in which he played, um, either himself or Woody Allen.
Acclaim
Allen’s films have earned a total of 50 Oscar nominations, with 11 wins, including four for himself. His 1977 Best Picture winner was ranked on a half-dozen of the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… lists and five of his works were placed on their list of the funniest movies ever. The Writers Guild of America also included four of Allen’s scripts on their list of the 101 greatest screenplays, a record matched only by Billy Wilder and Francis Ford Coppola.
In its nine-season run, SEINFELD was nominated for 68 Emmys, with 10 wins, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series and two for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (one of which was for David’s “The Contest”). It has also placed in the top three of TV Guide’s and Entertainment Weekly’s respective lists of the best shows of all-time and was named by the WGA as the second-best written show ever. To date, CURB has been nominated for 39 Emmys and has won two.
Lunch
If it were a restaurant Allen had never been to, he would certainly approach the door the same way he does a swimming pool: with extreme caution and a constant eye on all exits. Allen would find the soup to be too cold (even if it were gazpacho), a trait he would no doubt compare to the thin line between life and death. And assuming he doesn’t have an irrational fear of bread, he’d rush through the corned beef and pastrami sandwich and be off for the matinee of THE SORROW AND THE PITY.
David would only find the restaurant appealing if it’s lacking any sign of human life other than the waiter, who better bring out the food when it’s ready. Once it’s on the table, David would consider the purpose of soup's existence and muse over why people eat salad in the first place. From there, he’d spend the majority of the meal convincing you that he’s far better than white fish, sable and capers.

In short, lunch with either Woody Allen or Larry David would be unbearable.
Woody Allen
Both Woody Allen and Larry David prove that comedy and misery go together like Ted Danson and turkey. Allen and David each have impressive, award-winning works and astute, clever quotes to their credit, but there’s really only room for one miserable New York Jew in FACE-OFF, and that is Woody Allen, whose career has run nearly six decades and will stop only for Death himself.

If you have suggestions for an upcoming Face-Off column, shoot me an e-mail at mathewplale@joblo.com!

Which miserable New Yorker do you prefer?
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