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Tracey Ullman's wonky politician character Irma Kostroski is Curb Your Enthusiasm's most electrifying character since J.B. Smoove

  • "Perhaps not since the introduction of J.B. Smoove’s Leon Black has Curb witnessed such an electrifying character addition as the Santa Monica city councilwoman," says Daniel D'Addario of Ullman's character, who was introduced in the Dec. 5 episode. "On first meeting, Irma and Larry instantly loathe one another — a curmudgeon-to-curmudgeon connection that suggests big things ahead. (What is more Curb than feeling a strange sort of respect for the people one loathes?) And once Larry realizes he can leverage his acquaintance with Irma into getting himself out of a jam, he puts on a show of Davidian charm. Among Irma’s astonishing qualities as a character is what she brings out of the show’s lead; David, running an multiple-episode double game of dating a woman he cannot abide in order to attain a goal, is doing some of his best comic acting in memory. But let’s not take anything away from the performer who brings Irma to life. Until the credits rolled on her first episode, I assumed Irma was played by some character actress I’d never before seen. Instead, it’s Tracey Ullman under the red hair and statement jewelry. Ullman is unafraid to play big, broad notes — a sort of grotesque physicality, as when Irma describes her own gas — but she doesn’t play the part with loathing, either. The challenging and fearless element of Ullman’s performance is that Irma is a real person, more so than most of Larry’s entertainment industry peers. Proudly dowdy, she’s plainly unmotivated by the material. Rather than keep up in the thrust and parry of conversation, she misreads Larry’s intentions at every turn, and comes up with turns of phrase that are almost poignantly uncool. And on a show which proudly displays its allergy to emotion, now comes a character foolish enough to believe that she’s found real love in Larry."


    • Larry David is a role model for bald men: "David’s big lesson is that the bald man has to compensate somehow," says Stuart Heritage, adding: "You just have to look at Larry David to see how true this is. As the seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm have progressed, he has taken more and more pride in his appearance. His unconstructed blazers have grown sharper, his layering more complimentary. His ring of hair has grown out, too. And for all his apparent misanthropy, the Larry David smile is something to behold. When Larry David smiles, you’re blinded by charm. It’s a Julia Roberts smile. Only bald, so worse. This, I now realize, is the path I have to follow."
    • St. Vincent is a huge Curb Your Enthusiasm fan: “I’m obsessed with (Sofia Maria) on Curb," the musician tells Spin magazine with a laugh. "She just makes the craziest acting choices in the whole world....She’s so good at being so bad at acting… And here’s the thing: I know the premise is that, 'Oh, Larry’s such an asshole,’ but I feel like I agree with him most of the time.”

    TOPICS: Tracey Ullman, HBO, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, St. Vincent