Larry David stole my life and put it on TV

Larry David stole my life and put it on TV
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Larry David stole my life and put it on TV

One of the funniest sitcoms on Television is HBO’s long-running, short episode-life “Curb Your Enthusiasm” starring Larry David, Richard Lewis, and Jeff Garland among a phenomenal cast of actors and actresses. The series helped me recover from Cancer. Yes, that’s how medicinally potent it is, and I have binge-watched it five times and continuing. Here’s my homage to this great series that returns sometime this year in Season 10.

By Ray Hanania

Opinion columnist راى حنانيا. Ray Hanania headshot

Opinion columnist راى حنانيا.
Ray Hanania

Some people in society define themselves based on the role models they admire. Tom Hanks. Amal Clooney. Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton. Brad Pitt. Adam Sandler. Meryl Streep.

I can say with absolute certainty that my role model, the person I most identify with and see so many parallels in is Larry David, the TV and Hollywood comedian who is the creator of the hit comedy series “Seinfeld,” and the even hipper HBO sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

There is no way I can curb my enthusiasm about Larry David and the cast of spectacular actors and actresses on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

I am a late-starter to the Curb Your Enthusiasm following. I only began watching my first episode less than two years ago in October 2017 while convalescing following cancer surgery. Although the medical science of my doctors at the University of Chicago Hospital deserve a lot of the credit for my beating cancer, it was the laughter and hilarity that kept me balanced in the weeks after when I binge-watched all of the TV sitcom’s nine seasons.

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The show first broadcast 18 years ago, and I don’t consider that a coincidence. Ever since, I have binge-watched the series at least five times from start to finish and the more I watch, the more I see myself in the often misunderstood and pilloried Larry David.

Larry David, creator fo Seinfeld and the hit HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Larry David, creator fo Seinfeld and the hit HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the funniest sitcoms on television. But like a lot of HBO and cable TV productions, the series is short on quantity and yet so high in quality. There are only 10 episodes per season. Its schedule hasn’t been annual like most other series. It comes and it goes for several years.

The last episode 10 of Season 9 aired on Dec. 3, 2017, just as I was repeating the medicinal benefits of the show’s humor. And the next season, Season 10, is expected to begin airing sometime this year. Maybe in the late Spring. Or, maybe in the Fall as all of the past nine seasons had September or October launch dates.

I can wait, though, because as soon as I complete binge Number 5, I’ll just start over again because I just can’t get enough of Larry David’s hapless life of being misunderstood, or his cast of characters that include: Jeff Carlin who plays Jeff Greene, as his agent; hilarious self-critical comedian Richard Lewis as himself and David’s equally pained comedy pal; his TV ex-wife played by Cheryl Hines; and Susie Essman, who plays Greene’s foul-mouthed, loud and loving wife. So many other great comedians, actors and actresses are in the sitcom.

(Listen to an audio podcast of this column by clicking here or by using the convenient widget below.)

Larry David and Jeff Garland, “the four-eyed f— and the fat piece of sh–,” according to his character’s always angry and yelling wife, are constant pals, along with Richard Lewis and a few others like “Leon” (J.B. Smoove) and Marty Funkhouser (Bob Einstein, who passed away recently this past January). There’s also Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Wanda Sykes playing great roles, too. Although there was a couple of episodes with that great actor Michael York who always looked like he was in a state of perpetual perplexity, maybe not getting the premise of the show he was acting in. And there are hotties like Gina Gershon and the Anne Bedian, who plays one of the most hilarious roles in the entire series.

To people unfamiliar with the show, these notes from the series may or may not connect with their real-life experiences, but they are a template, or better yet, a blueprint of my life’s journey:

You have to be a certain kind of person to sing without prompting the Nestle’s Nesquik chocolate jingle, originally made famous by Farfel the Dog, the Nestles mascot. Larry David knows it by heart and finds a way to insert it into the script. Nestles sponsored the Jimmy Nelson ventriloquist show on TV in the 1950s when I was growing up, and his other puppet, besides Farfel the dog, was Danny O’Day.

How many other people out in TV land will watch the 10th season of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and declare, “Holy S—! That’s me!”?

“LD” is: Misunderstood. Skeptical. Everyone blames him. He always gets the blame when things go wrong. His attempts at compliment are suspect. No one believes him. No good deed goes unpunished in his life. Frustrated by everyone around him, his problems can never be corrected. They just get worse.

When David walks out of his house he is carefree and often leaves his front door open, explaining why so many people enter and leave his life.

His mantra is he was “just trying to be helpful.” Yet he can’t miss stumbling into misunderstanding and blame. He does things he doesn’t want to do that others implore him to do. He’s too deep in perplexity to say goodnight to people. He’s a victim of circumstance. He’s a fiasco from start to finish. He’s had every sexual problem and experience known to man and yet he doesn’t consider himself “a cool guy.” Larry David is a self-admitted hypochondriac. He’s not a get-together kind-of-person.

Comedian Richard Lewis, co-star in the hit HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Comedian Richard Lewis, co-star in the hit HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

LD believes in “tip coordination” after a lunch with a split-check meal and he’ll fight to defend it. He’s a lefty “brassiere” un-hooker, which doesn’t help his sex life at all, however.

He always carries a mint, a tissue and a pen and believes that’s important. He hates the feeling of sand on his feet, worse in his sneakers. He’s not blessed with “folic-coli,” and is bald, not “blessed” hair. He ponders the ponderless.

Who instigated the hug that broke the glasses? You’re nothing without your health, and some people are nothing even with their health. Instead of experiencing an awkward moment, Larry David is in a perpetual awkwardness.

He is not an inventor but he considers himself “an improver.”

He doesn’t leave a movie theater early and is a guy who “goes down with the ship. I stay with the captain,” he says.

Everyone leaves him “with his chaos”

Larry is a kabob-o-phobe because he is afraid of the stick that holds the meal together.

He doesn’t always recommend anyone but often gives a “non-recommend recommend,” that people often miss.

Larry’s life starts like an empty gesture, the “irritatee” who becomes the “irritator.”

Larry recognizes that his relationship with his wife is damaged by “Too much Larry” … he used to go to work and then come home; “It was just enough Larry. But you were home all day it was too much Larry. We can reduce the amount of Larry.”

Actress Anne Bedian courtesy of IMDb

Actress Anne Bedian courtesy of IMDb

What does he think that I’m a moron? You throw in a “fu–, “ you can double your laughs.

Pricks and c— (the C-word) are equal. Why is a c— worse?

His life is a Cobb salad minus everything that everyone else expects.

He doesn’t realize that people understand him in a different way.

“I was just stretching my arm. It didn’t mean I want to have sex with you.”

“I don’t like talking to people I know. But strangers I have no problem with.”

“Bald people are a persecuted class of people” and that doesn’t include those who shave their heads.

“My mother just died” or dating the disabled are the perfect excuses to get everything you need, including recognition.

What is it with your “cutoffs”? … not everybody knows his rules. He has his own set of rules and he wonders why no one else lives by them.

Larry David is a shrimp counter.

Time flies when you are having fun, even when you’re not.

There is no such thing as “there was no reason.”

He doesn’t buy into the “rules.”

The law of the dry cleaners: u drop clothes off, lose something, and take something else home instead.

You never leave an affair before the dessert … I don’t subscribe to the wait until after the dessert rule

You can’t break up with a handicapped person by phone

He protests the automatic 18 percent tip on a restaurant tab. And why shouldn’t he not give an additional “tip?” The 18 percent is the tip. You tip for a favor … you don’t do a favor and not tip. And, attempting to do a favor is a favor … “E” for effort … “F” is for favor!

Some are rules he can’t avoid, like the “five-second rule in a hug.” If it lasts more than five seconds, he gets an erection.

He doesn’t do a “stop and chat”

He has to get “outfit approval” from Cheryl on what to wear.

He calls after 10 pm.

Schmo-hawks are the people who cut him off or upset him when he drives, a word he learned from his widowed character father, Nat, played by actor Shelley Berman.

There are only two ways a person can hurt their neck. One is by getting in a car accident. The other is by cunnilingus.

“Having said that” is a great expression to negate everything that you just said.

He pretends to have the wrong night to get out of a party invitation, visiting the party inviters on the wrong day.

He invented the bathroom trick to avoid paying the restaurant tab but often is its victim.

“Slapping the shoulder” is like sex for plutonic friends.

“Chi Ya” is his yoga mantra that means “f— me.”

People shouldn’t know who you are when you donate something as anonymous. LD is very generous with his money.

Some people are “sampler abusers” — you can’t abuse the sampling privilege.

It’s all about omission versus “co-mission.”

Just knowing Larry is a liability, his closest friends admit.

Some of my Favorite episodes:

Season 2 Episode 9: the baptism conversion. Larry accidentally disrupts the baptismal conversion of a Jew who wants to marry Cheryl’s sister, who is Christian. Larry gets to the baptismal late and thinks the guy is being drowned. He causes a confrontation between the Christians and the Jews who say Larry’s act was s mitzvah after he intervenes to save the guy from drowning. He later learns the “Sign of the Cross:” Nose, toes, watch and wallet.

Season 4 Episode 9: Hasidim sex with the sexy Gina Gershon.

Season 7 Episode 5: Dating a wheel-chaired girl, which explains how he lists his friends and acquaintances in his Blackberry directory: Wendy handicapped. Denise Wheelchair.

Season 7 Episode 6: Larry is urinating and it splashed on a picture of Jesus on the wall in the bathroom. It looks like Jesus is crying.

Season 8 Episode 3: Palestinian chicken is my absolute favorite of all 90 of the shows, about Larry David connecting with a beautiful “Palestinian” activists “Shara,” played by actress Anne Bedian, at a Palestinian chicken restaurant. Bedian probably gives LD his best sex during the entire season screaming to audience laughter, “I am going to f— the Jew out of you” — and many more lines that make you lower the volume a lot. Bedian is a phenomenal Canadian Armenian actress who needs more roles and more followers on Twitter, by the way.

I bet she suffers from the episode’s difficult lines. Look her up at @AnneBedian. I know many Arabs and Palestinians hate the episode, but they have no sense of humor. No wonder they are always angry. (They? Me!!!) If I were to write a script, I would have Richard Lewis, who is constantly looking for a girlfriend, settle down with “Shara” and explore the hilarity of a Palestinian and Jewish marriage – which I experience every day of my own real life.

I’ve given up hope of seeing David and Cheryl return to the marriage. She played a perfect foil to accentuate his outrageous habits. But maybe a Lewis-Bedian pairing could step up the series.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist and former Chicago City Hall reporter. A Palestinian Christian married to a Jew, Hanania performed standup comedy with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour. His personal website is www.Hanania.com.)

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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