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Curb Your Enthusiasm: the greatest comedy of all time

To be Larry David is not just a biological chance, but a way of life. The man himself confirmed as much upon announcing that the upcoming season of his hit comedy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, would be the last. “As Curb comes to an end,” the 76-year-old said, “I will now have the opportunity to finally shed this ‘Larry David’ persona and become the person God intended me to bethe thoughtful, kind, caring, considerate human being I was until I got derailed by portraying this malignant character.” 

Funny right until the end, even when not needing to be: this is the magic of David, whose semi-autobiographical comedy is to finally end in April after 24 years and 12 seasons. This is a source of great sadness for me, for whom Curb has brought so much joy. I have never related to a character as much as I have to Larryhis awkward bemusement at the social norms of life and determination to quietly and stubbornly rail against them. Larry is both who we are and who we want to be, the man who never fails to say what we’re all thinking.   

The show has always been a master of perception, nailing the everyday tensions

And yet the magic of Curb goes far beyond just Larry’s persistent hilarity. The ability of the show to move with the times during its two decades on the air has been as impressive as it is unmatched. The show has always been a master of perception, nailing the everyday tensions and frictions that come with interactions and relationships. This meant it had to evolve as the programme progressed. Yet it has tackled everything from affirmative action and Trump to #MeToo and Covid with grace and charm, the perfection of humour that doesn’t punch down and yet is uproariously shocking and illiberal. In a time when so much comedy has become drowned in questions of cancel culture and political correctness, Curb always stood above them all.

It is an innovation also repeated in cast and characters, for which the programme has always excelled. There is the steadfast source of humour that is Susie Greene, forever Larry’s foil and constant irritation, as well as Larry’s more reserved public face in her husband, Jeff. But the addition of Leon Black in later seasons helped to push Larry’s fury even further and to greater effect. Sprinkle in the always-inspired choice of guest stars, from the inimitable Tracey Ullman in the last season to the much-missed Bob Einstein as Marty Funkhouser, and you are on to some winners.

Curb  simply never aged. If anything, it matured like a fine wine

Despite spanning well in excess of a hundred episodes and a dozen seasons, Curb simply never aged. If anything, it matured like a fine wine, particularly the most recent three series produced after the show’s six-year hiatus from 2011 to 2017. It is testimony to its totemic influence that several comedies and TV programmes now also use its improvisational techniques to capture the best acting. It gave Curb a constantly raw and real feeling, which added to the humiliation of Larry’s tendency to commit social faux pas.

Must it end? It does seem that unlike the show’s previous six-year caesura, Curb is not just being put on ice, but firmly laid to rest. It will be hard to find another programme that so carefully and delicately pushes the boundaries as this comedy classic, arguably, if not most certainly, the greatest of all time. Thank you, Larry. You really spoke for all of us. 


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