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Revisiting Larry David's 1999 HBO special Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm

  • "Before there was Curb Your Enthusiasm, there was the HBO comedy special Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm," says Alan Sepinwall. "Well, if we’re being pedantic, before there was either of those, there was Seinfeld, without which neither version of Curb would have a reason to exist. But back in that 1999 special, Seinfeld‘s co-creator played a lightly fictionalized version of himself, preparing to perform stand-up comedy for the first time since the NBC sitcom had made him incredibly rich and vaguely famous. Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm is fascinating for the ways in which it does and doesn’t resemble its follow-up series, which HBO has run off and on for the entire 21st century. (An 11th season debuts on Oct. 24.) Larry is there. So are Jeff Garlin as Larry’s long-suffering manager Jeff and Cheryl Hines as Larry’s even longer-suffering wife Cheryl. The OG faux-Larry also has a very familiar knack for offending people, even when he’s trying to do a good deed. But there’s a mockumentary format — including talking-head interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, and others — that David, director Robert Weide, and their collaborators would immediately ditch once Curb became an ongoing show. Larry and Cheryl are parents in this version (their daughter is referred to, but not shown). And, like on Seinfeld, the action is periodically interrupted for bits of stand-up — though Larry’s sense of humor is a bit more askew than Jerry’s, with routines centered on things like Hitler’s contempt for magicians, or how annoying it would be to live next door to Jonas Salk’s mother. The TV series would build out a supporting cast of friends (Richard Lewis as himself, J.B. Smoove as the pathologically confident Leon) and enemies (Ted Danson, or Susie Essman as Jeff’s foul-mouthed wife Susie), though some of the most memorable characters didn’t turn up for a while. The late, great Bob Einstein(*) didn’t even appear as Larry’s hilariously disapproving frenemy Marty Funkhouser until the fourth season, for instance, and Leon didn’t arrive until the sixth. Still, the show borrowed what it could from the special, particularly the idea of Larry complaining about and/or exploiting social niceties, like the practice of swearing an oath on your children." As Sepinwall notes, "Einstein’s brother, Albert Brooks, is set to appear in this new season. Will he play himself, or another member of the troublesome Funkhouser clan? The latter sounds more fun, and if Vince Vaughn isn’t too famous to play a 

    Funkhouser, then Brooks shouldn’t be, either."


    TOPICS: Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO, J.B. Smoove, Larry David, Susie Essman