A ‘Super’ Take On Golf
You might know him better as the gravel-voiced daredevil Super Dave Osborne or the laconic Marty Funkhouser on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. But Bob Einstein is much more than his stuntman alter ego or Larry David’s argumentative moral compass. A Hollywood comedy omnipresence since the late 1960s, Einstein is a two-time Emmy winner for ensemble writing for his work with The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and Van Dyke and Company.
Einstein has long taken his laughs to the links. A regular participant in celebrity pro-ams, his game is most often found today on the fairways of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. A 13-handicap and an avid golfer since the mid-1970s, he has long enjoyed the game as an escape from the office, saying, “It’s tough to get away from your work and play an hour of tackle football.”
As the comedian readies for Curb’s autumn return to HBO after a five-year hiatus, Einstein carved out some time to chat about his least favorite golfer, the greatest shot he’s ever seen and why Kim Jong-un needs to visit the desert.
EINSTEIN: Wanna hear a good golf joke?
FORE: Tee it up.
EINSTEIN: Guy is teeing off, hits the drive of his life. Unfortunately, his wife is standing on the red tees and the ball hits her in the head, knocks her down like a kewpie doll. Guy takes her to the hospital, is pacing around, the doctor comes out to the waiting room and says, “Mr. Johnson, I’ve got bad news. Your wife passed away.” The guy says, “What?! That’s impossible!” Doctor says: “No it’s not. There are so many people playing golf nowadays, this is the seventh time this has happened this year. But yours is a little different. Not only did the ball hit her in the head, but we actually found another ball seven inches in her backside. The guy says: “My mulligan!”
Why do you enjoy playing in the Coachella Valley?
Everything looks more beautiful and open; you’ve got the mountains and the palm trees and the immaculate fairways and greens — so, mentally, everything is more relaxing. And I love desert golf for the spectacular weather; sometimes, you can’t even believe you’re here. If Kim Jong-un were to spend a week at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, he’d never go back to North Korea!
Any favorite golf stories from playing in the desert?
I had a chance to play Porcupine Creek once, the estate course (in Rancho Mirage) owned by Larry Ellison. Before he bought it, the previous owner had a tournament there and the “Hole in One hole” is a downhill par 3, maybe 170-yards — impossible shot, can’t make it. You don’t know what club to take. Anyway, this guy with me, an older guy with some medical issues, he said he couldn’t play, but that he’d love to ride along. We come to this par 3, the last hole. A Rolls Royce is the prize. The guy riding along says he wants to take one shot for the day. He takes a driver out of the bag … and it went in on the fly! He wins the Rolls! And guess where he lives? The Vintage Club!
Any impressions on today’s top players?
I tell ya’ who drives me crazy is Sergio Garcia. You watch him, and it’s always in the line of the guy putting, and he’s fidgeting. He’s fidgeting, he’s touching his club, he’s wiping a thing, he’s doing this and that. It drives me nuts. When you putt, you just want a little freedom, you know? Putting is hard enough.
When you shoot Curb scenes at MountainGate CC in L.A., do you guys actually play?
Well, it’s still a television show. Although it’s a show where everything is ad-libbed; so, we’re given a structure of what we do in a scene and then ad-lib, which makes it so much more fun to do. But if we did play a full round together, I don’t think we’d ever finish because it’s just so many different kinds of personalities. But it’s a great way to get four guys in the cast together outdoors, and we could be out there talking or arguing. And Larry loves golf.
You’re the only guest to appear twice on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In last year’s season-ending episode, you brought up golf to Jerry, but he didn’t bite.
No, he sh** all over it! He says, “What’s the point of golf? It’s like poker.” I also thought it maybe would be fun if we did an episode in a golf cart. I asked him, but it kind of got away from the show too much.
For a comedian, can golf and comedy co-exist on the course?
If you’re playing with the right people, absolutely. But if you’re playing with somebody who takes the game very seriously — which I don’t — it can be rough. I don’t screw people up on the golf course.
Ever had a Super Dave moment in real golf?
Thank God, no. If I had one, I would never play again. But I’ve always thought it would be great if golf could be incorporated with other sports, like football. So, a guy would tee off, the ball goes, but then while he walks down the fairway after it, another guy runs by and lays him out.