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. 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.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: In "Palestinian Chicken", Larry gets an anti-Semitic Palestinian woman into bed by overplaying his Jewishness.
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.
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).
Camp Gay: In the episode "Larry vs Michael J. Fox", Larry meets the son of his girlfriend, who exhibits stereotypical Camp Gay mannerisms - but he's only seven. Larry terms him "pre-gay".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I Am Not Spock: In season 2, Larry contemplates making a TV series about an actor who can't find work, because he's always typecast as his character from a hit television show, first with Jason Alexander, then with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
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.
Jerkass: Everyone in the show, including Larry himself, were assholes. But Susie didn't go a scene without being a bitch to everyone.
Jews Love to Argue: Larry and most of his friends are Jews, and they bicker almost nonstop.
Kafka Komedy: While Larry is indeed an awful person, it's often his good-intentioned acts that backfire or are misunderstood, and make him hated.
Kavorka Man: Larry after Cheryl leaves him. Though there is one good reason why attractive, younger women would date him - he is very rich.
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 always plays on the soundtrack. The audience is left to draw their own conclusion about how effective his method is. It's subverted by Jerry Seinfeld in the Season 7 finale.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.