Artwork by Cap Blackard
Here’s the one thing most people who watch Curb Your Enthusiasm are afraid to admit: They relate with Larry. Yes, the Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm is an angry, irritable, fastidious, and selfish human being.
But so are the rest of us.
The difference is that we hide all of our annoyances and flashes of pettiness behind waxen smiles and inane pleasantries so as not to make a faux pas, sour a daily presence, or end up the topic of your enemy’s next cocktail hour. Because, ya know, it sucks to have people upset with you. Even an annoyed cashier can stick with you, causing you to reevaluate every step of the interaction. And since we’re all the heroes in our own narratives, we’re prone to bending over backwards in justifying whatever bad behavior we just exhibited. But, as in the world of Curb Your Enthusiasm, context never matters in the moment, and first impressions are forever impressions.
(Ranking: Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Top 20 Episodes)
Everyone consumes Curb differently. Some are repulsed by Larry, only to be pleasantly shocked when they find themselves agreeing with his disinterest in the Tin Man or relating to his paranoia regarding a friend who hits the bathroom every time a restaurant bill hits the table. Others relate to him more often than that, which should no doubt make them feel less alone in a world that demands relentless social grace.
These are a collection of moments in which we think Larry’s bad attitude, refusal to conform, or probing “okay” were justified, ones that leave us as apoplectic as Larry in their complete disassociation from relatable human behavior. Because, seriously, would you give Halloween candy to a couple of teenagers who didn’t dress up? Of course you would. Begrudgingly.
Larry speaks for all of us anxious weirdos by doing and saying all the things we’re afraid to. And that’s why we love him.
Season One, Episode Five
What Did Larry Do? Arrived to the doctor right on time for his appointment, only to have the woman who arrived before him—whose appointment was after his—get in to see the doctor first. This is apparently the policy at the office, and Larry won’t rest until that policy is changed. His complaining naturally makes him an enemy of pretty much everyone in the office, including his doctor, with whom he already wasn’t on good terms.
Why Larry Is Right: Because appointments should matter! And this is just one absurd policy in an episode filled with them. Larry’s lawyer reads one of his scripts “as a professional courtesy” and charges him $1,500. Cheryl’s interior director overhears Diane Keaton leave her garbled number on Larry’s answering machine, then refuses to give him the missing digit due to client privilege. In nearly every episode, Larry brings his unwinding onto himself. “Interior Director” is one of the few episodes where Larry is truly the only one thinking logically here.
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because that logic only goes so far. When Larry is again delayed at the doctor despite arriving first, he’s furious to discover that the policy has changed. “Apparently it’s not about the policy at all,” a nurse says. “It’s about you going first.” For his part, at least Larry agrees. “Me first! That’s the policy!”
Season Two, Episode Five
What Did Larry Do? Terminated his relationship with his therapist for no reason other than that he saw him at the beach wearing a kaleidoscopic thong. “I can’t talk to him in that bathing suit,” he tells Cheryl after seeing him. “Well, kiss that therapist goodbye.”
Why Larry Is Right: Because one’s relationship with their therapist is a fragile thing. I speak from experience when I say that just riding in the elevator with your therapist is awkward enough. In the mind of the patient, therapists must exist within a bubble where they have no life, emotions, or proclivities of their own; their sole purpose is to help you. To see one out in the wild, a thong creeping up their plump ass, is a sight that’s simply too searing to tuck away while you’re trying to tell them about how your dad fucked you up. Also, the guy totally snubbed Larry in the bathroom. What was that about?
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because he tells Richard Lewis, who never needed to know about the thong in the first place. As Lewis puts it, he’s been with the guy for ages and the prospect of having to do “the catch-up” with another therapist is a dire one, but simply hearing about the thong is enough to make him bail. “You should thank me for saving you from this hedonist!” Larry says.
Season Two, Episode Seven
What Did Larry Do? Larry’s the toast of ABC after getting a new series with Julia Louis-Dreyfus greenlighted, but at a screening of the network’s new miniseries he’s ordered by a woman to not bring his bottle of water inside. When he discovers she doesn’t work there, he asks why any of this is her concern. A bitter fight ensues, with both parties holding a grudge.
Why Larry Is Right: Look, there’s a time for snitching. There’s a time for taking a role of authority in a realm that is no way yours. This is not one of those times. Larry sums it up himself: “Don’t bring any pens or pencils in!” he cries in that tenor of disdain for which we know Larry so well. “Excuse me, Mrs. Cantor, we have homework! You forgot to give us homework!” Look, if it were a six-pack of beer, then yeah, say something, but narcing on someone for a bottle of water points to nothing more than a power complex. Also, who stands so stoically at a set of theater doors like that?
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because, as the woman astutely points out, his assertion that the Golden Rule applies her really doesn’t make any sense. Sure, she was absolutely being a “hallway monitor” here, but there’s also no way to really come at a person who asserts an unearned authority as a means of enforcing what is actually a real rule. Is it obnoxious? Absolutely. But it’s not as if she was wrong. Some battles, Larry, you just have to let go.
“Club Soda and Salt”
Season Three, Episode Three
What Did Larry Do? After he and Cheryl get the cold shoulder from acquaintances Ed and Melanie Loeb, they realize they never bought the couple a wedding present. They pick up a $300 bottle of wine for them, then swing by to drop it off. Appalled, Ed and Melanie refuse to accept the gift, claiming that “it’s an afterthought and it’s late.” If you’re unfamiliar with wedding etiquette, gifts apparently can’t be accepted after a year.
Why Larry Is Right: Because you’ve gotta be the most obnoxious humans on the planet to be offended by a breach of “wedding etiquette.” Also, Larry and Cheryl flew to Chicago for their “little bash” (“Little?” Melanie replies, “There were 266 people there!”) and already bought them a $200 vase and a nightgown. “You’re into us for about $5,500 as I see it!” Larry, red-faced and apoplectic, screams.
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because next season he ends up having a problem with Ben Stiller throwing a birthday party two weeks after his actual birthday, a gripe that’s as absurd as any bit of dumb wedding etiquette. Really, Larry is as mad as I’ve ever seen him here, screaming at Melanie that the only reason he went to their wedding was because Cheryl “put a gun to my head!” Moments later he’s threatening to pour the entire bottle on their stoop. Larry, my friend, these people are not worthy of your rage.
“The Blind Date”
Season Four, Episode Three
What Did Larry Do? Badgered Cheryl’s pre-teen cousin, Stewart, into telling him how he did a magic trick despite Stewart’s assertion that a magician never reveals his tricks. “You do one trick and that makes you a magician?” Larry asks, to which Stewart replies that Larry is not “naturally” a magician and, thus, not worthy of knowing the secrets. Pissed off, Larry tells this child he’s not a magician, either.
Why Larry Is Right: Knowing one trick doesn’t make you a magician, just knowing how to change a tire doesn’t make you a mechanic. Stewart’s claim that, being a magician, he’s able to see the potential in any given human to be a magician is a load of absolute horseshit.
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because, for some reason, Larry’’s rage leads him to demand that Stewart give him half of his Halloween candy, which is such a hilariously cruel thing to say to a kid, especially one in such a baller Superman costume.
“The Ida Funkhauser Roadside Memorial”
Season Six, Episode Three
What Did Larry Do? Berated a woman in line at an ice cream shop for sampling a number of flavors and thus holding up a line that, for at least most of the scene, consists only of Larry. This, of course, comes back to bite him in the ass later when the woman who Larry berates ends up being the one deciding whether or Loretta’s kids can go to a fancy-ass school.
Why Larry Is Right: Because “sample abusers” are real, and there is such a thing as “abusing your sample privileges.” Anyone forcing an employee to feed them sample after sample is bad enough, but you’ve got to be a real piece of shit to keep doing it when there’s people waiting in line behind you. This is especially egregious considering the woman ends up getting vanilla.
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because it’s probably not the best idea to start barking at her, even if it is absolutely hilarious when her request for a banana ice cream sample prompts Larry to respond, “Banana! It might taste like, let me guess, a banana!” Also, Larry’s edging a slippery slope when he asserts his manufactured “two samples at most” rule. Remember the words of Cheryl, Larry: “Not everybody knows your rules, Larry.”
“The Lefty Call”
Season Six, Episode Four
What Did Larry Do? Tried to get Richard Lewis’ girlfriend Cha-Cha fired from her receptionist position because she wouldn’t stop chit-chatting with him whenever he went to the bathroom, which sits right across from her office.
Why Larry Is Right: Okay, maybe not right. Maybe he should’ve just got her reassigned elsewhere? But any man, woman, or child could tell you that somebody commenting on your bathroom habits is one of the most awkward and weirdly humiliating things someone can do in casual conversation. “That was quick,” Cha-Cha says at one point. “That time again, huh?” she says on another. She’s even telling Lewis: “She told me you go to the bathroom 10 to 14 times a day,” he says. “She has bowel concern.”
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because he, like, is genuinely trying to get her fired. “I notice she’s not working out,” he tells her boss. “She’s supposed to use obscenities every other word? “Fuck” this and “cunt” that?” Also, there are so many other options here. Sure, the toilet upstairs is loud enough to shatter your eardrums and he can’t deal with Cheryl’s “rough,” eco-friendly toilet paper— “It’s like going to the port authority or a whaling vessel!”—but, dude, a building that big’s gotta have more than two potties.
Season Seven, Episode 10
What Did Larry Do? Asked coffee slinger Mocha Joe to carry some jumper cables to an office that he was already walking to. Mocha Joe, however, is none too pleased when Larry neglects to tip him, and thus harbors a deep, burning grudge against Larry that raises that questions as to the true nature of favors. Is a tip required? Or is the satisfaction of helping a friend enough? Larry tries to return the favor, but fails, which, when coupled with Jerry’s badgering—“Mocha Joe has nothing to show for your supposed favor!” he declares—results in a Mocha Joe that’s downright vengeful.
Why Larry Is Right: Because Mocha Joe is a monster! Who expects a cash tip for carrying something to a place you were already going? I know this is LA (and that Larry has more money than God), but Mocha Joe’s rage at this supposed slight points to an inner selfishness potent enough to make me look for another coffee purveyor. Also, the favor he asks for in return—drive to West Hollywood to pick up some coffee beans—isn’t even remotely on par with carrying some jumper cables a few dozen feet. It’s Kenny Bania saying “soup isn’t meal” all over again. “Mocha Joe, that’s insane,” Larry says, and he’s not wrong.
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because he can’t resolve the situation without taking a few digs of his own. “I know how difficult that was for you,” Larry says through gritted teeth as he pumps cash into Mocha Joe’s tip jar. Really, though, this is one of the rare instances where Larry isn’t the worst person in the room.
“Funkhauser’s Crazy Sister”
Season Seven, Episode One
What Did Larry Do? Pissed off Loretta Black’s doctor by asking why he would take a lemonade from Larry’s fridge without asking. The doctor’s assertion that there’s nothing wrong with it is backed up by Marty, who claims “liquids are okay.”
Why Larry Is Right: It seems like common sense that one wouldn’t do anything, except maybe use the restroom or grab a glass of tap water, in somebody’s house house without asking first. Because it’s not even the lemonade so much as it is a person rooting around in your private space (yes, a refrigerator is not a public one); you don’t want somebody fishing through your medicine cabinet, do you?
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: “I’m surprised you didn’t offer, to be honest,” the doctor says, and, yeah, what kind of host doesn’t offer you something to drink. Larry claims he was about to offer, but the doc’s not wrong when he points out that if Larry hadn’t offered already—they’re literally midway through a conversation about a loved one’s cancer, for Christ’s sake—it’s not gonna happen. Larry loses his hand in the argument, however, when he points out that the doctor didn’t have the wherewithal to ask for himself. “Are you so dainty that you can’t say, ‘May I have a glass of water?’” Larry says, hurtling the conversation into depths from which it will never recover.
Season Eight, Episode Six
What Did Larry Do? This one’s two-fold: Jeff and Susie are hosting a dinner party and, because “everybody brings wine,” Larry decides to bring a baguette instead. Unfortunately, Susie is not amused: “You don’t know what I’m serving. Don’t impose your desires on my whole cuisine!” Larry offends Susie, and several of the guests, that much more when he objects to the assigned seating, which splits up the couples so everyone can meet new people.
Why Larry Is Right: Because Larry speaks for everyone: “I don’t wanna meet new people. I don’t wanna mingle.” Susie’s decision to split the couples is especially heinous because Susie and Jeff not only stay together, but surround themselves by the party’s most famous people (including Ricky Gervais). People need buffers at parties; if they don’t have them, they run the risk of making the same mistake Larry does when he elevates “small talk” to “medium talk” by asking about a stranger’s marriage. Also, bread is an amazing thing to bring to a party, no matter the cuisine being served.
Why Larry Is Still a Jerk: Because he asked about a stranger’s marriage. Sure, small talk is a goddamned nightmare, but who wants to delve into one’s sex life with some asshole you’re never going to see again?