The jaundiced old baldy continues his atrocities in season 10 of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s about the idylls of Larry David, creator of Seinfeld, enjoying his residual years gaffing, golfing and pursuing the ex-wife (Cheryl Hines) who dumped him for his selfishness and pickiness.
Once David had the gall to cast himself as a latter-day Robert F. Kennedy, quoting the martyr: “I saw wrong and tried to right it.”
“Wrongs righted” this season include 1: Pledging to drop a friend who gets cancer, because who needs that in their life. 2: Trying to close down his old nemesis “Mocha Joe” for serving lukewarm coffee on wobbly tables. 3: Getting sued for sexual harassment, mainly because his friend Jeff (Jeff Garlin) looks a bit like Harvey Weinstein. 4: Giving Jeff’s gorgon of a wife, Susie (Susie Essman), a giant birthday portrait where she looked, as usual, like a Roman empress about to throw a slave to the tigers. Also, Larry has the inspiration to wear a red MAGA dunce cap as pest-repellent in liberal LA. Like every Larry David idea, it works beautifully until it fails miserably.
The roots of what David does are long. On radio and TV, Jack Benny played himself as a loafing celebrity, cheap, lazy and feud-prone; Benny had Fred Allen, David had the late Bob Einstein’s character of Marty Funkhauser. Whatever ill use the racist entertainment industry made of Eddie ÔRochester’ Anderson, he was a solid gold straight man, the one who always detected Benny’s social fibs and could not be fooled. J.B. Smoove’s Leon carries on this tradition with much more agency. The season opener had the two pals cutting a swath down a sidewalk cluttered with annoyances, with selfie-sticks to be snapped and parked electric scooters to be kicked out of the way.
Another David influence is S.J. Perelman, whose literary reputation today is like an abandoned theater with the plaster crumbling and the pigeons roosting in the marquee. Take Perelman’s “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t, Goober Man” in which the New Yorker essayist was startled by a man dressed as Mr. Peanut (RIP); he described it, as if by Poe “…a gigantic peanut with ostensibly human features… his spidery extremities, encased in funereal black, terminated in white gloves and spats, and he flourished a cane in a jaunty, raffish fashion that stiffened my scalp in horror.” Like Perelman, David poses as a literary poltroon, a small-things-considerer, beady eyed for other’s faults, squawking with self-righteousness when challenged.
And now the greatest living farceur, give or take John Cleese, is back on the warpath.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Sundays, 10:30pm, HBO