Before we begin, you need to know some context. I don’t regard Curb (or if you insist on the full title, Curb Your Enthusiasm) as a comedy so much as a How To guide. Because when I grow up I want to be Larry David.
I don’t mean being a squillionaire (as the writer of Seinfeld, the actual Larry David is loaded) — although of course I wouldn’t say no to that. I mean I want to lead my life like Larry, saying the unsayable, laughing at the unlaughable and doing the undoable.
Want is perhaps the wrong word. I try, now, to lead it like Larry. Which may explain why I am divorced (like Larry) and single at 59. But that’s all for another time.
The point of my telling you this is to explain why it is such a source of, well, joy that Curb is back on Mondays on Sky Comedy. Because as well as being a self-help guide, Curb is also the greatest comedy ever written (and I will fight you to the bitter end if you dare to disagree).
The bad news is that this is, according to Larry David, the final season (although he has said that before, he seems to mean it now). So treasure it while you can.
Here are some of my favourite episodes from the 110 so far — although it’s an impossible choice and you could watch any episode and it would trounce everything else that passes for comedy.
l Where else to start for the JC than Palestinian Chicken? It manages to say more about the Israel-Palestine conflict than most news analyses, via a story based on Larry’s agent and best friend Jeff Green’s new favourite chicken place.
They invite newly frum Marty Funkhouser (played by the much missed and inimitable Bob Einstein) to join them and the entire episode unravels from the moment they ask him to take his yarmulke off. Marty refuses, Larry tells him where to go and the restaurant’s Palestinian customers salute Larry as a hero. He then has an affair with a waitress, whose antisemitic (“filthy ****ing Jew”) and anti-Israel insults turn him on. Larry remarks mid-intercourse: “I’m an occupier!”
But it all goes wrong when Larry is seen protesting outside a second branch of the restaurant when it opens next to a Jewish deli. The episode ends with him unable to choose between siding with his Judaism or the best chicken (and sex) he has ever had.
l Or how about The Survivor? His then wife gives Larry permission to cheat, once, as a wedding anniversary gift. Larry is hesitant so he consults his rabbi, who shows him a picture of his brother-in-law, who died on 9/11.
It later turns out that he did indeed die then, but “uptown, after being hit by a bike messenger”.
Then, at a family dinner with a Holocaust survivor, a guest had asked if he could bring another survivor. When he arrives, he is a former contestant on the TV reality show, Survivor, and there is a debate as to who had it tougher.
The Carpool Lane
l The Carpool Lane is not just one of the greatest comedy episodes of all time — it saved a man from execution, with background scenes at Dodger Stadium used in court to show a man was there, rather than, as the prosecution alleged, committing a murder.
The episode starts with Larry buying pot to help his father’s glaucoma. Desperate not to miss the Dodgers game, he has to use the carpool lane to beat the traffic but is on his own. So he picks up a street hooker to travel with him.
Those are just three episodes, but I could equally have chosen the one in which he dates disabled Denise because he loves the “perks”, such as parking, and the feeling of moral superiority for dating a disabled woman — or when an entire storyline builds on Larry having lunch with someone who has won a competition to have lunch with him and who, when Larry asks, “Do you mind if I start?” when his food arrives, replies “Yes” .
Or there’s the episode in which everyone thinks Larry is racist because he refers to a black family who are staying with him as “the blacks” — when that’s their surname.
Welcome back, Larry. It’s been too long.