Jeff Garlin visits Laughing Skull (April 8-12), 'Finding Vivian Maier" screening April 12

Jeff Garlin may play a clueless dad wearing 1980s-era Cosby sweaters on ABC's new MTV-era sitcom "The Goldbergs," but to him, the gimmick of revisiting leg warmers and acid-washed jeans doesn't really matter.

"It's just a great family show," said Garlin, who will be in Atlanta this week at the Laughing Skull Lounge in Midtown to work on new material for an upcoming TV comedy standup special for Netflix this fall. "We're still on the air and that's amazing."

Garlin's comedic style on the live stage is loose and semi-improvisational.

"He doesn't have a set list," said Marshall Chiles, who owns the Laughing Skull and has become friends with him over the past decade. "He is just in the moment on stage. He has jokes he wants to get to but it depends on what's happening in the room and inside of him. He can play off the energy in the room."

Chiles was flattered that Garlin specifically chose to fly out to Atlanta for several days from Los Angeles to work on material. Garlin has been there a couple times before.

"It's a great comedy space," said Garlin, who has two close friends in Atlanta he visits when he comes into town. "I love Atlanta audiences. I don't really work the road in clubs. It's a rare occurrence for me."

UPDATE: 4/9/14: I checked out his Tuesday night show (which was almost full) and he was as advertised. He was naturally funny, without feeling packaged. He brought his smartphone on stage to tape what he had in hopes of building a more formal set for his special. He said it was the first time in 31 years he was planning a show with a beginning, a middle and an end. He also took questions from the audience and spoke with individuals in the crowd. At one point, he requested. Funniest localized line: "Drunk people deserve the Varsity."

He also was appalled that he ended up promoting his comedy shows and the screening on a TV show on 11 Alive called "Atlanta & Company" where host Christine Pullara did a weight-loss infomercial just before he came on. He said he tries not to have an ego about such things but this still peeved him to no end even though Pullara was very nice. He asked if anybody had seen the bit: one woman did.

But there was one moment Garlin said has never happened to him in 31 years. There was a couple in the front row who were dating and things were clearly not going well. The guy was coming off like a jerk and the woman was clearly upset. But Garlin asked her at one point how much money he'd have to pay her to kiss her date. Moments later, she said, "I got to get out of here," grabbed her purse and just walked out. Her date was clearly annoying the bejesus out of her. What's more: the dude didn't bother chasing her after she left, saying she lived five minutes away anyway. He stayed and tried to banter with Garlin. Garlin was perpetually annoyed with the guy but did find out the 35-year-old man had found the woman on a Christian dating site Plenty of Fish despite the fact he proclaimed being an atheist and "born again virgin." The question never answered: how did he manage to get to a third date with the woman?

Later, he said he did get one possible subject from the show that could be used in the special. When he requested a ginger ale (his favorite drink) from the bartender and she came up to the stage to hand it to him, he complimented her beauty and her bosom. He then wondered if this was creepy or okay. He even got a second glass of ginger ale from her.

Also after the show, Chiles and I were gabbing when stand-up comic and Decatur native Chris Tucker showed up. He wanted to work out some material on what is usually open mic night but the place was empty. Chiles suggested Smith's Olde Bar's open mic night. Tucker didn't look too enthused. Instead, he went inside to use the bathroom. He had just come from the Hawks game, dressed in a snazzy black dinner jacket with a sparkly lapel. I didn't get the impression Tucker knew Garlin when they shook hands. I can't imagine "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or "The Goldbergs" would be on Tucker's DVR.

Garlin is also a photography buff. When he heard about the discovery of 100,000-plus photos by Vivian Maier and the strange story behind them, he got in touch with John Maloof, a historian who had purchased the photos from an unpaid storage locker without knowing what was inside. Garlin told Maloof, "This would make a great documentary."

Maier was a nanny in Chicago who spent decades doing what's called street photography, capturing bracing shots of wealthy shoppers, Polish immigrants and little children. (She was briefly a nanny to Phil Donahue's kids.) Her photography only became acclaimed after she died because she rarely revealed them to anyone.

So Garlin, a Chicago native, helped put finance and produce the film "Finding Vivian Maier," which he's screening around the country, including Lefont Sandy Springs on Saturday. There, he'll hold a Q&A after the 1:40 p.m. screening and introduce the 3:40 p.m. screening.

Sifting through the negatives, he said there were very few duds. "She was very precise," Garlin said. "She didn't take five or six photos of each subject. Each time she saw something, she took away something interesting."

This hardly means Garlin is planning to become the next Ken Burns.

"I'm a comedian," he said. "I have this ABC TV show. I have 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' I'm in movies. I'm really busy. I'm not thinking about whether I should do another documentary. I do whatever happens."

In concert

Jeff Garlin

Tuesday, April 8 through Saturday, April 12 with shows at 8 p.m. each night and a 10:30 p.m. show on Friday and Saturday

$15 to $30 depending on the show

The Laughing Skull Lounge

878 Peachtree St., Atlanta

www.laughingskulllounge.com, 877-523-3288

Film screening

"Finding Vivian Maier"

1:45 p.m. Q&A with Jeff Garlin, 3:40 p.m. introduction by Garlin, Saturday, April 12

$9.50 adult tickets

Lefont Sandy Springs

5920 Roswell Rd., Atlanta

www.lefonttheaters.com