Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George pitched his idea for a show in which nothing happens? Curb Your Enthusiasm is that show.Larry David, the super-wealthy co-creator of Seinfeld, plays Larry David, the super-wealthy co-creator of Seinfeld, in this improvisational comedy, broadcast on HBO since 2000. Edgy, cynical and anarchic to a degree not even achieved by its predecessor — basically, think if Seinfeld had been just about George.In a typical episode, Larry casually offends someone in the first act, discovers that he desperately needs their help in the second, and then makes matters worse trying to secure it. Usually, he acts like such an unrepentant jerkass to everybody he meets that when there's a genuine misunderstanding, he can't convince anybody of his innocence. Of course, this varies from one episode to the next. Sometimes, Larry is the more-or-less hapless victim of circumstance; sometimes, he makes all the worst possible choices on the way to his comeuppance. Either way, the comeuppance is the punchline to the show, and will be saved for the very end.
This show provides examples of:
Actor Allusion: Maggie Wheeler's best known role is Janice on Friends who has a trademark Annoying Laugh. In the Curb episode "Palestinian Chicken", she plays a woman who is annoying because she says "lol" instead of laughing.
Adam Westing: Apparently the real Larry David is more or less just his character on the show, but the other celebrities he encounters are all taking the piss out of themselves in one way or another.
Aesop Amnesia: Twice in season 5, Larry says he's turning over a new leaf (once, because he almost drowned while swimming in the ocean, and twice, when he had a near-death experience in the season finale), but almost immediately goes back to his usual petty self.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: In "Palestinian Chicken", Larry gets an anti-Semitic Palestinian woman into bed by overplaying his Jewishness.
All Jews Are Ashkenazi: In "The Ski Lift", Larry pretends to act stereotypically Jewish so he can butter up a Jewish member of the doctor board so that Richard Lewis will get bumped up the waiting list for a kidney.
All Jews Are Cheapskates: Larry is rather often characterized as a "cheap Jew" in his endless quibbling and penny pinching over tips, bills, and other minor sums that he shouldn't really care about in his financial position. Other times, he objects to the cheapness of his friends, who are mostly Jews themselves.
In the episode episode "Interior Decorator", Larry throws a tantrum at his doctor's office over their waiting list policy, culminating in him tackling another patient.
In a later episode "The Hot Towel", he manages to get his doctor's home number on the condition that he will only use it when it's absolutely neccessary. He ends up calling it accidentally and tries to start a conversation with the annoyed doctor.
As Himself: The entire premise of the show is that this is actually Larry David, but the events are indeed fictional. Almost runs into Adam Westing territory, but then you realize the Larry David we see isn't all that far off from the Real Life Larry David. And many others, just a sample here...
Ted Danson and Richard Lewis as Larry's friends, along with Mary Steenburgen and Rosie O'Donnell.
The entire cast of Seinfeld shows up regularly, as themselves, in the later seasons.
Ass Shove: In "The Bat Mitzvah", some characters suspect Larry of sticking the Black's pet gerbil up his ass. This rumor is made worse by Larry lying that he did this because he was annoyed at the nurse asking him so many questions.
Sammy. Though she isn't featured in many episodes and has relatively few speaking roles, you can be sure that any episode she's in will feature something awful happening to her.
Richard Lewis. Every time he gets a girlfriend, Larry always ends up ruining the relationship.
Marty Funkhouser, who Larry always seems to upset.
Call Back: To a previous series. In "Car Periscope", Larry and Jeff invest in an invention for your car: A periscope so you can see over the traffic. Such an idea was first suggested by Kramer in Seinfeld, but Jerry thought it was stupid and illogical.
Early on, Larry has called bad drivers "schmo-hawks", which made a comeback in the season 7 premiere.
Susie has "You bald fucking prick" or variations thereof, which are usually directed at Larry and "fat fuck" when referring to Jeff. She also had "She was hysterical" whenever Larry has upset Sammy (this is mostly in the early seasons).
Circular Reasoning: Larry and Jason Alexander get into one of these arguments in "Thor" when Larry is late for a meeting with Jason, and keeps trying to claim that his effort should count as the meeting (of course, the real reason why Larry is saying this is because he doesn't want to make the long drive to Jason's office every time), while Jason disagrees and says that the plan (the meeting itself) was never accomplished. Back and forth.
Clingy MacGuffin: In "The Ida Funkhouser Roadside Memorial", Marty gives Larry a $50 bill from his sock, which no store will accept because it's floppy and gross.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Funkhouser's sister, Bam-Bam. Unlike most examples, she's like that because she has a serious mental disorder.
Cluster F-Bomb: Susie would be mute without this trope. Leon too, though he tends to go with "motherfucker".
The cook in "The Grand Opening" qualifies, due to his apparent Tourette's Syndrome.
Larry himself doesn't swear often, but he lets loose in a Martin Scorsese film that he has a part in.
Commuting on a Bus: Cheryl when the divorce begins part way through Season 6; she is still credited in the opening credits even if she does not appear in episodes or is present only briefly (once in a flashback). Season 8's premiere seems to officially put her on the bus.
Composite Character: Curb Larry has elements of both Seinfeld Jerry and George Costanza. Somewhat deconstructed in that George was largely based on the real Larry David.
The Seinfeld reunion show features many plots that occurred to Larry in previous seasons.
A poster for The Producers can be seen in Larry's office.
Country Matters: Larry David's use of the word during a poker game causes an effeminate acquaintance to have a slow motion nervous breakdown. And of course, the obituary misprint: "Devoted sister, beloved cunt". And Marty Funkhauser's joke "P.S. Your cunt is in the sink". And Susie to Cheryl in the episode "The Grand Opening": "Fuck you, you carwash cunt! I had a dental appointment!"
Crossing the Burnt Bridge: The basic concept of the show. Plots are as follows: Larry David horribly offends a minor character, then realizes he needs their help. Larry tries to make amends, typically fails on an epic scale.
The Danza: Beyond the As Himself examples above, there are several good old-fashioned Danzas: Cheryl Hines as Cheryl David, Jeff Garlin as Jeff Greene, Susie Essman as Susie Greene, and Wanda Sykes as Wanda.
Dark Secret: Larry killing the golf club's mascot, a black swan.
Deadpan Snarker: Larry explaining that the purpose of a mezuzah is for anti-Semitic pyromaniacs to recognize a house owned by Jewish people.
Diabolus Ex Machina: A major driving force behind many of the show's plots, and much of its humor.
Disabled Love Interest: In the episode "Denise Handicapped", Larry dates Denise, a pretty woman in a wheelchair, mainly to use the fact that people are more considerate with the disabled to his advantage.
Dueling Shows: The very short lived The Paul Reiser Show was basically NBC's version of Curb. In the second of the two episodes aired, Larry even figures in the plot (Paul has no desire to host a game show... until he hears Larry was offered it after he turned it down) and appears in a scene in the episode.
The series proper doesn't have as much of this as many other shows; they seemed to nail the concept almost immediately. Regardless, there are some oddities to the first season: Larry and Cheryl lived in a different house, Cheryl had darker hair, and there wasn't a season-long story arc. Also, Wanda and Sammi don't appear until season 2.
Exact Words: In "Thor", Larry was accused of saying Wanda has a big ass. Larry defended himself by saying that he actually said "I'd know that tush anywhere." But Wanda and Cheryl still took his exact words in a pejorative way.
False Friend: Larry is accused of being this in "The Terrorist Attack" when he doesn't tell many of his friends about a potential terrorist attack in L.A. and they find out about it.
Fan Disservice: In "Mister Softee", Susie has an orgasm in Larry's car, due to its rattling seat. The sounds she gives are the most unsexy imaginable.
Fanservice Extra: The topless Playboy bunnies in the outdoor pool in "The Smoking Jacket".
Faux Documentary: The pilot only, which was an HBO special about Larry trying to make an HBO special, and originally planned as a one-time project.
Fee Fi Faux Pas: A driving force of narration. Some fans use the term "Larry David moment".
Flashback to Catchphrase: In "Mister Softee", the origin of Larry's catchphrase ("Pretty good. Prettaaay, prettaaay, prettaaay, pretty good") is revealed: when he was a kid, he once played strip poker with a girl and lost. This was her reaction to seeing him naked.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: Even though Cheryl and Susie weren't credited as main cast members at the same time, it still works. Larry is Melancholic, Cheryl is Sanguine, Jeff is Phlegmatic, and Susie is Choleric.
Hitler Ate Sugar: A plot point in "Trick or Treat": Larry is accused by a neighbor of betraying his Jewish heritage by whistling Richard Wagner, since Hitler frequently used his music during the Nazi era.
Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Black Swan", Larry is opposed to the idea that he has to introduce someone to his friends. Near the end of the episode, while speaking to Marty, Larry badmouths the stonemason he spoke with on the phone who was going to fix his mother's gravestone, and the man Marty's standing with just happens to be the stonemason. He calls Larry a prick and leaves, and when Larry asks why Marty didn't introduce him, he replied, "What about your policy? No introductions."
Larry: So I'm hoisted on my own petard. Marty: Exactly.
I Am Big Boned: In "The Korean Bookie", Larry is criticized for calling Susie's dog fat; she claims he's just big boned.
Identical Stranger: In "The Lefty Call", a bald Neo-Nazi calls Larry a "faggot" and a "Jewboy". Larry leaves in shame, but Leon builds his confidence by telling him that if he ever sees him again, to "get up in that ass". At the end of the episode, Larry spots who he thinks is the same guy and is ready to fight him, but it turns out the guy isn't the same Neo-Nazi from before, just a chemo patient.
Man: (as he leaves) Asshole.
I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy: In the episode "The Special Section", Larry's mother dies while he is shooting a film in New York. No one in his family tells him this because it was actually her dying wish that they not bother him about it. Larry is understandably upset that his mother died, had a funeral, and everyone has moved on - all while he was filming in New York and only just found out about it. He calls her out on this when he meets her in the afterlife.
Idiot Ball: Every episode revolves around someone being completely inconsiderate toward an aspect of common etiquette or being unreasonably committed to enforcing a minor rule. Larry is usually the worst offender.
The Immodest Orgasm: In "Mister Softee", Susie has one in Larry's car, due to its rattling seat. Larry is horrified.
In season 7 Sammy sings in the shower as Larry's trying to sleep, prompting an extremely agitated outburst. 'SHUT THE FUCK UP!'
Cheri Oteri's appearance is as a mentally unstable nanny who was driven mad by constantly hearing the Looney Tunes theme while working at an amusement park. She sings it constantly and it drives her into a murderous rage.
Ironic Echo: Early in season 5, Larry used the handicapped stall in the bathroom, and was called on it by a wheelchair-bound person, who told him, "Well then you wait" for a non-handicapped stall to open up instead of taking his. In the season finale, Larry is being wheeled out of the hospital and notices the same man about to use the non-handicapped bathroom. Larry tells him, "Well then, you wait", much to the man's annoyance.
Larry: "Boy, you really are your mother's daughter."
Sammi: "Yeah, now get the fuck out of my driveway, you bald prick."
Living Lie Detector: When Larry suspects someone of lying, he will stare at them suspiciously for several seconds, trying to detect if they're lying or not. The same leitmotif ("The Puzzle") always plays on the soundtrack. The audience is left to draw their own conclusion about how effective his method is. Occasionally, this is subverted when another character suspects Larry of lying, such as the Japanese golf course owner in "The Black Swan" and Jerry in "Seinfeld".
A Man Is Always Eager: Larry responds to his wife's concern that he never initiates sex by pointing out that he's always ready, and instructs her to tap him on the shoulder when she's ready. Of course, this backfires when she gives him the tap just after he's finished masturbating ("tapped out").
Mistaken for Cheating: Loretta leaves Larry because of this. Larry doesn't try to clarify the situation, because by this time, he had enough of her, but feels that he can't break up with her, because she has cancer.
Mistaken for Racist: Larry, quite often, particularly by Wanda Sykes. He does have an unusual obsession with Hitler despite being Jewish.
Larry's dog in "The Bowtie", though when the dog doesn't growl and bark when the black Omar Jones pets him, Larry realizes the dog is probably homophobic instead.
Mistaken for Servant: Larry assumes a black man is a valet because he's wearing a vest and standing by the valet sign. Wanda calls him on it, though Larry says he would've said the same thing had a white man been in the same situation.
Never My Fault: Played both ways for laughs. Larry often acts like a huge jerk to people and refuses to apologize on principle, refusing to admit his culpability. In turn, people are often needlessly abusive, rude or just jerks to him and go out of their way to blame him.
No Accounting for Taste: Jeff and Susie. There are two reasons why they are still together - their daughter Sammy, and that Susie has promised to get the most corrupt lawyer she can in the event of a divorce so she can take Jeff for all he has.
Not What It Looks Like: Occurs to Larry in "The Vehicular Fellatio" when Loretta thinks she sees a woman giving Larry a blowjob in his car; subverted, in that Larry doesn't even attempt to correct Loretta because she's leaving him and that's what he wants.
N-Word Privileges: Averted, as Krazee-Eyez Killah has no objection to Larry repeating the term after the rapper affectionately uses it in reference to Larry. Even inverted later when Larry tells Krazee-Eyez (before their inevitable falling out) that he's his "Caucasian".
Oblivious Mockery: Several gags rely on this. Typically, someone tells Larry David how rotten they think George Costanza is or how a plot of Seinfeld was unbelievable because nobody would act that stupidly. They don't realize that George was based on Larry and that many "unbelievable" Seinfeld plots were based on things Larry actually did.
The Other Darrin: In-story example; when Jason Alexander quits the Seinfeld reunion, Larry suggests that he could play George and even brings up the other Darrin.invoked
Person as Verb: In "Mister Softee", Larry makes a fielding error that costs his softball team the game, causing the coach to scream that he "Bucknered" it.
Platonic Prostitution: Larry hires a hooker so he could use the car pool lane. Being Larry, he then haggles over the amount she charges him based on the number of blowjobs he believes she could fit into the same amount of time.
Put on a Bus: The Blacks in "The Vehicular Fellatio". Except Leon.
Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: The episode Carpool Lane follows Larry on his trip to a Los Angeles Dodgers game with a prostitute. This included shooting footage at a real game, including mundane footage of Larry going up and down stadium stairs and sitting down and getting up from his seat, most of which never made the final cut. However, in the exact same row sat Juan Catalan, who would later be accused of a murder that took place at the exact same time as the shoot. So even though the footage didn't make the episode, it ended up clearing an innocent man of murder.
Running Gag: Many times in the series, Larry will think someone is lying to him and, after questioning them about what he suspects and they deny it, will eye them suspiciously while the other person eyes them back. This gag is accompanied by the music piece "The Puzzle".
Significant Reference Date: Played with in "The Survivor": A brother-in-law of the rabbi's was killed on September 11th... not from the terrorist attacks, but being run over by a bike messenger in uptown Manhattan.
Sir Swearsalot: Susie is famous for her filthy language. Leon also qualifies.
Sit Comic: Larry David used to be a stand-up comedian.
Spanner in the Works: That audience member that caused the disturbance in "Opening Night" with Andy allows Larry go improvise humor off-script about Andy, and win back the crowd after flubbing his lines as Max Bialystock. The crowd laughs as they think it's part of the play...and causes Mel Brooks to panic when he's made to believe that instead of killing the show that Larry will make The Producers run for another five years...and have Mel and wife Anne Bancroft lament, "No way out..."
Springtime for Hitler: A literal one. Mel Brooks (along with his wife Anne Bancroft) has Larry and David Schwimmer play the leads in The Producers in order to close the show. As the trope implies, it doesn't work.
Standard Snippet: "The Barber of Seville" is used in both "The Larry David Sandwich" and "Mister Softee".
Sting: A series of them at the end of "The Lefty Call" when Larry thinks he's spotted the same guy who called him a racial and homophobic slur earlier in the episode.
In season 3, Larry becomes an investor for a restaurant.
In season 4, Larry stars in The Producers.
In season 5, Larry tries to find a kidney donor with Richard Lewis.
In season 6, the Black family moves in and Larry and Cheryl separate.
In season 7, Larry organizes a Seinfeld reunion show.
In season 8, Larry goes to New York.
Stuck on a Ski Lift: Used in "The Ski Lift" to force Larry and an Orthodox Jewish woman to be "alone" together after sundown; since this isn't allowed under Jewish law if they're not married, she tells Larry he has to jump off if he's truly Orthodox (which he's pretending to be). When he refuses, she does it instead.
The various pictures in the freak book in the episode title of the same name.
Taking the Bullet: In "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox", Jeff claims that he'd do it for Susie, but she doesn't believe him. Later, he jumps in front of a bicycle messenger who was about to hit Susie. He suffers internal injuries and has to take a suppository... shaped like a bullet.
Teeny Weenie: In "The Ski Lift", Larry meets a woman, Lisa, who says that she used to date his friend, Jeff, but broke up with him because he has a very small penis. When Larry tells Jeff about this, he denies having a small penis, and says that actually it's Lisa who has a huge vagina.
The Thing That Would Not Leave: Leon. In season 6, Larry and Cheryl decide to temporarily house a family of African-American victims of the fictitious Hurricane Edna: single mother Loretta Black, her children Keysha and Daryl, and their Auntie Rae. Loretta's brother, Leon decides to move in too, even though he wasn't affected by the hurricane. Larry and Cheryl eventually split up, and Larry starts a relationship with Loretta. In season 7, when she (mistakenly) thinks that Larry is cheating on her, she leaves with her family... but Leon stays behind. In the episode "The Safe House", Larry complains: "He just moved in, doesn't pay any rent and he eats all my food. He knows all about me. He knows my mother's maiden name. I've got to get this guy out of my house. It's driving me crazy."
They Do: This trope is discussed on several levels and ultimately parodied in the Seinfeld arc. George's relationship with his ex-wife is used as a way to discuss how believable/satisfying it would be for Larry and Cheryl to get back together. Then the Season 7 finale seems to build up a standard They Do ending... Only for it to be subverted at the last moment with Larry's standard behavior ruining their moment.
Arguably this doesn't get subverted until the first episode of season 8. The end of season 7 is quite sweet and gives the impression that their relationship is back to normal. It's only in the next episode that we see it going wrong.
Tough Room: Averted, as Larry David claims it's unrealistic and unnatural for friends in sitcoms to deliver incredibly witty one-liners and nobody laughs. In this show, if a character makes a legitimately funny observation and another character happens to laugh at it, it's kept in the show. A good example is the first episode, when Richard Lewis chuckles at one of Larry's jokes, despite being mad at him.
Larry and Cheryl. Also, when Cheryl leaves him in season 6, Larry dates a number of attractive women, and lives with Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox) for a while. Richard Lewis also had an array of very attractive girlfriends.
In the episode "Car Periscope", Larry decides to invest in a man's invention (the titular periscope) after seeing his unattractive wife, because he thinks that means that he's a man with integrity. He also refuses a potential business manager, after he sees that his wife is much more attractive than him, thinking (rather hypocritically) that he must be superficial.
Understatement: In "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox", Larry talks to his girlfriend's seven-year-old son about Hitler and says that he "didn't really care for Jews. He thought they were a bit much."
Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Larry is incredibly self-involved, he's very dishonest at some times and rudely honest at others, and he's so abrasive and annoying that few people can stand being around him.
Wholesome Crossdresser: Larry pretends to be this in "Officer Krupke" by wearing women's panties (he's actually covering for Jeff, who was caught with said panties in his glove compartment).
Larry: (casually) I'm Larry David, I like wearing women's panties. (shrug)
With Friends Like These...: Larry actually can't stand most people in his social circle, and constantly gets into fights with them, that sometimes even lead to physical altercations.
Would Hit a Girl: In "Denise Handicapped", Larry gets into a physical fight with Rosie O'Donnell. Later, he's angry when he hears that Rosie claims that she won.
Denise: Why are you fighting women?
Larry: She started it!
Write What You Know: In-universe example: Larry writes things that happened to him into the Seinfeld reunion show (he did that with Seinfeld in real life too).
Xanatos Gambit: Larry accused food critic Andy Portico of doing this in "The Grand Opening": Larry was worried Andy was going to give their new restaurant a bad review. During a game of dodgeball, Larry accidentally threw the ball too hard at Andy, busting his fingers so he couldn't type the review. But when Larry mentioned that he fired his head chef, Andy recommended a friend of his from New York, Guy Bernier, but it turns out the guy has Tourrette's Syndrome. Larry thinks Andy chose Guy to deliberately sabotage the restaurant.
You Must Be Cold: Inverted in the episode "The Korean Bookie." Larry takes a jacket from a woman (though it's his jacket, and she took it without asking).
Your Cheating Heart: Jeff has had sex with other women while being married to Susie. He's almost caught in "Officer Krupke", but Larry takes the fall by pretending some panties found in his glove compartment are his.