“Could not loathe it more.” This was Larry David’s response to Seth Meyers in a recent TV interview when asked if he enjoys going to the beach. “I just don’t see why anybody would want to be on that surface. You know, it’s just in your toes. And then there’s the water, what is up with that? It’s cold! Who goes in cold water? Why? Why are you going in cold water?!” Comedians have a special ability to breakdown any situation to get to the root of what people experience. I think it’s what delights us about comedians the most: their ability to observe any situations in life and articulate what we are thinking and feeling. They take our unconscious feelings and form them in to concrete punchlines. Similarly one of the most important skills of a product designer is the ability to breakdown any situation to better understand what a customer is experiencing. This is why comedians would make great product designers, especially Larry David.
“No it doesn’t, it doesn’t make any sense at all” On an episode of his HBO show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” David finds himself in a frustrating scenario at a doctor’s office where a woman signs in before him and was seen before him, even though his appointment is scheduled before hers. Upon noticing, David confronts a female staff member at the front desk, “Why aren’t I going in before her?” “We have a policy in this office that you are seen as you sign in.” She responds. “What is it like a bakery? You pick a number and the first number goes?” David says frustrated. “Yes basically, it’s first come, first served” She says. “Why don’t you just have a little ticket? We could all take numbers instead of…Why even give out the appointments? You don’t even need appointments. No seriously, you don’t even need appointments for this system.” David says before going back to sit down in the reception area. Granted this is a scripted show and not something that happened to David in real life, we can all relate to this scenario. David observed a common, frustrating situation and jokingly created a solution. A bakery style ticket system for patients waiting to see a doctor. It’s probably not the best idea but he was able to point out the flaws of a process by observing where it breaks down, and ideated something outside of the box.
One last situation I want to touch on is in a recent GQ article profiling David. It tells the story of a lukewarm Americano ‘Curb’ scenario while at a cafe. David ordered an Americano and after some time passes, he notices it lost its heat. David asks the server if they have to make entirely new Americano in order to make his hotter, to which the server replies yes, or they’d have to dilute his current Americano. David asks to heat it in a microwave but they didn’t have one so he said lets just forget it. The server acknowledges and moves on, only to return moments later with a new Americano. He happily tops off David’s old, lukewarm Americano with the new, hot one. David thanks him but couldn’t help but call out the server. “Shouldn’t you have brought out a new cup?” David says. “Is it hotter?” the server responds. “It’s a little hotter but don’t you see how you defeated the purpose?”