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Curb Your Enthusiasm Review

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Cult US comedy from the co-creator of Seinfeld

★★★★★

Across the pond, where the end of Seinfeld was a seismic event greater than the end of Friends and Sex And The City combined, the disastrous solo sitcoms that followed lead many commentators to ruminate on the ‘curse of Seinfeld’, with Jerry Seinfeld’s semi-retirement looking like the only wise career move.

But the curse was defeated by the most unlikely breakout star — dyspeptic co-creator Larry David, a former stand-up making his acting debut as dyspeptic co-creator of Seinfeld, Larry David.

Like his pal Jerry, David first considered a return to his stand-up roots. Seinfeld’s triumphant return to the stage was the subject
of the brilliant documentary Comedian; always Jerry’s sour, unsuccessful shadow (the real-life George Costanza), David’s abortive homecoming was detailed in a semi-fictional HBO Special, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm (a welcome extra here).

During filming, the stand-up routines were increasingly crowded out by the improvised fly-on-the-wall elements, detailing the daily horrors that can befall your average millionaire success story contemplating a comeback.

The arena gig was cancelled; the sitcom, however, was picked up by HBO. The first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm picks up where the special left off — ten episodes of everyday frustrations, social irritations and magnificent self-loathing, all of it improvised and served up without a laugh track.

A curmudgeon at war with the world and with a yen for embarrassing social situations, Larry David has One Foot In The Grave and the other in The Office, yet comes with a bitter flavour all of his own.

In particular, the combination of the meticulously plotted multiple-storylines that were a hallmark of Seinfeld with the loose, improvised dialogue removes any theatricality from the farce, making the horrors seem altogether more real and immediate.

Never an easy watch, Curb Your Enthusiasm is certainly not for everyone. But with zero profile over here and three more seasons already filmed, this box set should be sufficient to inspire a new cult among comedy connoisseurs.