The best of the worst of ‘Curb’

Un­likely and awk­ward sce­nar­ios are the hall­mark of Larry David

Waterloo Region Record - - ARTS & LIFE - Bethonie But­ler Wash­ing­ton Post

“Curb Your En­thu­si­asm” re­turns to Home Box Of­fice Canada on Sunday at 10 p.m. af­ter more than six years off the air. A lot has changed in the world since we left Larry (and Leon) in Paris, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the new sea­son of “Curb” will have plenty of awk­ward­ness. In prepa­ra­tion, here are some — but clearly not even close to all — of the most cringe­wor­thy mo­ments from past sea­sons that made us want to slink out of the room be­fore the cred­its rolled. • Beloved ... some­thing In the first sea­son episode “Beloved Aunt,” Larry agrees to sub­mit an obit­u­ary for Ch­eryl’s aunt, who died by sui­cide. He dic­tates the obit to his man­ager and friend, Jeff Greene (Jeff Gar­lin), who has a friend at a lo­cal news­pa­per. But when the obit runs, Ch­eryl’s fam­ily dis­cov­ers that the aunt in “beloved aunt” was some­how tran­scribed as an in­cred­i­bly of­fen­sive word that starts with the let­ter C.

Larry re­turns from a shop­ping trip to find his in-laws livid. “It’s a typo!,” Larry in­sists as Ch­eryl’s mother sobs.

• “The whole af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion thing.”

In an­other Sea­son 1 episode, Larry meets Richard Lewis’ der­ma­tol­o­gist, who hap­pens to be black, and promptly in­sults him by jok­ingly ques­tion­ing Lewis’s prac­ti­tioner choice: “Re­ally, even with the whole af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion thing?” Larry apol­o­gizes and later tells Ch­eryl — who is mis­er­able due to an itchy skin rash — that he did “a schmucky thing.”

At din­ner that night, Larry goes to the re­stroom at a nearby res­tau­rant in an at­tempt to avoid see­ing any­one he knows. Un­for­tu­nately, he runs into a black line pro­ducer he in­ter­viewed while work­ing on his 1998 film “Sour Grapes.” The woman, who ad­mits to hav­ing had a few mar­gar­i­tas, con­fronts him on not get­ting the job de­spite her qual­i­fi­ca­tions and their good rap­port. The woman also sug­gests this might be part of a pat­tern, con­sid­er­ing there were very few black peo­ple on “Se­in­feld,” which ran for nine sea­sons. “It’s not a black thing,” Larry protests, “It’s a noth­ing.”

Back at the res­tau­rant, Ch­eryl com­plains that her rash is be­com­ing un­bear­able. Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing he lost the pre­scrip­tion for her med­i­ca­tion, Larry gets Lewis to call his der­ma­tol­o­gist, who gra­ciously agrees to see Ch­eryl. Dr. Grambs is en­ter­tain­ing guests, who force a re­luc­tant Larry to re­peat his ill-ad­vised af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion joke. It looks like all is for­given un­til an­other guest re­turns to the liv­ing room — and turns out to be the pro­ducer who con­fronted him out­side the bath­room ear­lier that night. • The doll (and a water bot­tle) In Sea­son 2, Larry and Ch­eryl attend a screen­ing for a two-part ABC minis­eries, at which Larry is forced to throw away his water bot­tle be­fore en­ter­ing the the­atre, de­spite his in­sis­tence that he needs it for med­i­ca­tion he’s tak­ing. He’s later shocked to dis­cover that it was an­other pa­tron — and not a staffer — who made him throw out the water.

Later, Larry and Ch­eryl go to an ABC exec’s house for a party to cel­e­brate the minis­eries. The exec’s young daugh­ter asks Larry to cut her doll’s hair. Larry hap­pily obliges and gives the doll a chic bob, only to have the girl run cry­ing to her mother when she re­al­izes the hair won’t grow back. To ap­pease the mother, Larry and Jeff steal the head off of an iden­ti­cal doll owned by Jeff ’s daugh­ter, Sammi.

Back at the the­atre for part two, Larry ends up in the woman’s bath­room af­ter deem­ing the men’s room too dis­gust­ing for him to use. On his way out, he hides his water bot­tle in his pants to avoid get­ting into an­other ar­gu­ment with the self-des­ig­nated “hall mon­i­tor.” The lit­tle girl walks in and hugs Larry, thank­ing him for fix­ing her doll’s hair. She backs away slowly, then runs out, yelling “Mommy, mommy, that bald man’s in the bath­room and there’s some­thing hard in his pants!”

Out­side, the crowd roars in anger as Larry at­tempts to es­cape through the bath­room win­dow.

• Larry re­trieves his golf club ... from a cof­fin

At the view­ing for Marty Funkhouser’s fa­ther, Larry dis­cov­ers that the el­der Funkhouser wanted to be buried with his golf club. The prob­lem? It’s Larry’s beloved (and ir­re­place­able) 5-wood. Hor­ri­fied, Larry con­cludes that the swap must be the hand­i­work of a coun­try club staffer he of­fended, and con­vinces Jeff to of­fer up his more con­ven­tional club for the cas­ket.

At the fu­neral, Larry’s swap is re­vealed when Funkhouser’s rel­a­tives dis­cover a tell­tale cashew raisin — Larry’s favourite new snack (cour­tesy of David Sch­wim­mer’s fa­ther) in the cas­ket. • Larry’s bat mitz­vah toast The Sea­son 6 fi­nale has no short­age of cringe. Larry has an un­com­fort­able and em­bar­rass­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion that he’d rather not dis­cuss in pub­lic. Dis­cre­tion is un­for­tu­nately lost on his as­sis­tant, who asks about said med­i­cal con­di­tion in front of Matt Tessler, a direc­tor Larry worked with a few times dur­ing his “Se­in­feld” days.

Tessler, hop­ing Larry will rec­om­mend him for Richard Lewis’ lat­est project, help­fully rec­om­mends the doc­tor who em­ploys his cousin-in-law. But Larry doesn’t love how the doc­tor’s of­fice op­er­ates, and he takes par­tic­u­lar is­sue when he’s asked to de­scribe his con­di­tion to the nurse, be­cause he’ll have to tell the doc­tor any­way. To avoid telling the nurse, Larry says he has a ger­bil stuck, um, in an un­likely place.

Back at the stu­dio, Larry sees a real es­tate agent giv­ing a tour of his shared of­fice space, so he pre­tends to be men­tally dis­abled in the hope of keep­ing to him­self. This of­fends the ap­proach­ing Tessler, whose son suf­fers from a ge­netic mus­cu­lar dis­or­der.

Through his cousin-in-law, Tessler finds out about Larry’s made-up ger­bil is­sue, and spreads the word in re­tal­i­a­tion for Larry’s in­sen­si­tive ac­tions. While giv­ing a toast at Sammi Greene’s bat mitz­vah, Larry skips the mazel tov and in­stead uses the op­por­tu­nity to clear up the “vi­cious, nasty, scur­rilous ru­mour about me and a ger­bil.”

• Larry’s most awk­ward first date

In “Denise Hand­i­capped,” Larry goes on a date with a woman in a wheel­chair. It’s awk­ward from the be­gin­ning — when he in­sists on car­ry­ing her into the ramp-less res­tau­rant — to end, when he goes in­side her apart­ment for the most cringe-in­duc­ing make-out ses­sion (and some­how, a sub­se­quent sex scene) we’ve ever seen.

• The bare midriff — and cry­ing Je­sus

Mau­reen, an as­sis­tant at the stu­dio space shared by Larry and Jerry Se­in­feld, makes her bosses un­com­fort­able by ex­clu­sively sport­ing shirts that ex­pose her mid­sec­tion. At Jerry’s sug­ges­tion, Larry not-so-grace­fully con­fronts Mau­reen about her of­fice at­tire and she quits. Ju­lia Louis-Drey­fus tells Larry and Jerry that they have to hire her back be­cause Mau­reen’s mother is de­pressed and her daugh­ter’s job loss might send her over the edge.

When Larry goes to Mau­reen’s house to con­vince her to come back to work, he uses the bath­room and — thanks to med­i­ca­tion that leads to in­creased urine flow — ends up leav­ing what looks like a tear on a Je­sus paint­ing the fam­ily keeps near the toi­let. Back at work the next day, Mau­reen’s shirt has moved up even fur­ther and she’s in great spir­its, declar­ing that her “whole life has changed” af­ter the mir­a­cle of the spon­ta­neously weep­ing Je­sus.

A cou­ple of days later, Mau­reen and her mother re­al­ize there was no mir­a­cle when they catch Larry fran­ti­cally re­liev­ing him­self. Mau­reen’s mother climbs onto the roof, where she teeters dan­ger­ously close to the edge. Larry rushes over to save her, fall­ing off the edge in the process. He man­ages to grab Mau­reen’s ex­posed belly fat and hangs on for dear life. • The ac­ci­den­tal racist Larry is un­set­tled when he over­hears a man use the N word in a hospi­tal bath­room and re­lays the racist com­ments to a new love in­ter­est ... just as an AfricanAmer­i­can doc­tor is walk­ing by. The doc­tor, a sur­geon sched­uled to op­er­ate on Jeff, is so an­gry he ac­ci­den­tally shaves Jeff ’s head. Be­cause this is “Curb,” there are more con­nec­tions to be made.

The woman Larry is see­ing, also a doc­tor, has stereo­typ­i­cally ter­ri­ble hand­writ­ing, so he takes a note she wrote to a phar­ma­cist, hop­ing he can trans­late it. The phar­ma­cist, who also hap­pens to be black, is trou­bled by the note’s ref­er­ence to “all these brothers and sis­ters around” and the doc­tor’s as­ser­tion that Larry’s life would prob­a­bly “be bet­ter with­out the Blacks.” (She’s re­fer­ring, of course, to her own sib­lings and Larry’s house guests, the Blacks).


Larry David is back in all his awk­ward glory as "Curb Your En­thu­si­asm" re­turns to HBO for its ninth sea­son.

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