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“I find human contact repulsive…”- Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
That’s just one of many priceless bon mots from Larry David, the creator and star of the HBO television comedy ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’
The show, which is largely improvised, takes a hyper-realized look at the life of the comedian, and how his lack of filter/big mouth and inferiority complex offends and outrages everyone around him (mainly Hollywood celebrities also playing themselves), all while he remains myopically oblivious.
Larry David is the patron saint of crankiness, and we have more in common with him than we’d care to admit… I know he certainly strikes an internal chord with this curmudgeonly writer. And David is so riddled with self-doubt and stubbornness that he hasn’t even decided if the show will continue or not!
The ability of one’s insecurity and angst to cause unintentional chaos has long been comedy gold, so let’s take a look at some other great TV shows like ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ worth your viewing time.
Larry David and his friend Jerry Seinfeld catapulted to fame with their smash sitcom, which became a true cultural event, spawning many catchphrases like ‘re-gifting’, ‘yada yada yada’, ‘double dip’, and ‘shrinkage’, that are still used in the modern day lexicon the world over.
It’s success was a combination of smart writing and stellar casting, where the unflappable comedian was joined by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander, playing a group of New Yorkers whose friendships were often tested by their selfish failings and personal distractions.
Alexander’s character, George Constanza, was largely based off David’s own personality, leading to some of the series most maddening yet hilarious moments.
One of HBO’s first comedic hits deals with the backstage politics of late night talk show host Larry Sanders (Gary Shandling), who juggles his failed personal relationships amidst the delicate egos of his superstar guests.
Constant upheaval between Shandling’s Sander’s and his bumbling co-host Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) and producer Artie (Rip Torn) made for indelible comedic moments.
Like Larry David, Mike Judge (‘Beavis and Butthead’, ‘Office Space’) is another shrewd pop-culture anthropologist. With his latest series he tackles the millennial driven tech industry, and what happens when idealistic programmers are pitted against cutthroat capitalists. The corporate dealings of socially awkward introverts who fail to act in their own best interest equals brilliant comedic tension.
Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) is the ultimate ugly American, so backwards and arrogant in his worldviews, he’s downright unlikable.
But it’s his obnoxious optimism and pride, which flies in the face of logic and taste that makes this has-been baseball player so engaging.
‘Louie’ deals with another misanthropic comedian’s life and career, that being the brilliantly dark-witted Louis C.K. The series takes an unflinching look into the life of a divorced dad trying to get by through laughs and practicality. But the show’s surreal nature throws plenty of chaos into the mix as well as more sobering moments of reflection.
I hope you enjoyed my recommendations for other series like ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ If you’re looking for edgy comedies that push you out of your comfort zone, those are all great places to start, and are in the words of Larry David: “Pretty… pretty… pretty… pretty good.”
But what other series like ‘Curb’ earns your enthusiasm?
Let me know in the comments.