Adding a New York Kick to the "Curb"

Larry David's plan to bring his show east is a natural for a program that’s set in Los Angeles, but is never far from New York.

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, May 18, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 PM EDT
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Larry David's coming home – to New York.

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The last time Larry David brought "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to New York was in 2004 for the finale to an unlikely season arc that culminated with him starring on Broadway in "The Producers."

He tangled with a hotel bellman over tips, insulted a Sikh man’s turban, chased a mugger, fought with a tourist (played by Stephen Colbert) and saw Jerry Seinfeld flee the theater in disgust.

In short, Larry was home.

Amid the sad news that the original "Law & Order" is logging its final New York case next week comes the welcome word that David is bringing "Curb" to the city for what the New York Post notes could be the HBO comedy’s farewell season.

Plot details, as always with the partially improvised show, are sketchy. But for "Curb," the move east is a natural for a program that’s set in Los Angeles, but is never far from New York.

Larry David, the man and the (presumably) exaggerated version of himself he plays on "Curb," is very much a creature of the city of his birth.

He grew up in Brooklyn. He drove a cab. He cursed his audiences from city nightclub stages. He became a “Saturday Night Live” writer, quit and stormed out – only to return as if nothing happened (a trick to be repeated by his TV alter-ego George Costanza on “Seinfeld,” a show set in New York and filmed in Los Angeles).

Larry David’s New York isn't exactly the New York of District Attorney Jack McCoy, the shoe-happy gals from "Sex and the City," or the coffee-infused couples of "Friends." David's city is a planet of nitpicking, neurosis and narcissism at the center of the Seinfeldian universe he helped create.

In "Curb," Larry runs a comic balance between being an angry (and rich) fish out of water in Los Angeles and getting his comeuppance from fellow transplanted New Yorkers who know his weaknesses. Richard Lewis, the fouled-mouthed Susie Green and breakout bit players like last season's Mocha Joe speak a language Larry understands, but would sometimes rather forget.

After "The Producers" season, some of us were left wondering how David could possibly top himself. It’s a tribute to David that we felt the same way five years later after the most recent season's “Seinfeld” reunion thread.

Even as the cast changed over two decades on "Law & Order," New York always remained the star. It seems fitting that the city, an unspoken presence in "Curb," is set to finally get its comic close-up amid the disorder that is Larry David's TV life.

If this does turn out to be the last season for “Curb,” we’re betting that getting back into a New York state of mind will help David follow the words George Costanza spoke, but rarely lived by: always leave on a high note.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.


 

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