While there have been no actual studies to prove this theory, it does seem that watching an episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” causes viewers’ blood pressure to rise to potentially dangerous levels. Sometimes, it seems like a good idea to have a physician on-hand as Larry David starts agitating anyone and everyone within earshot. As this sneak peek from the upcoming new season makes very clear, even watching him figure out what to do for lunch is enough to make you want to scream or kill someone. Or both.
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Doctors may not be so thrilled whenever new episodes of the show come around, but everyone else should be. Especially with the arrival of Season Eight, which, judging by the first few episodes, may well be “Curb’s” best yet. If they could just get over that fear and dread David’s constant trouble-making can bring out. He is, as his (on and off-camera friend) Jeff Garlin refers to him in this season’s premiere episode, a “social assassin.”
“I hear that a lot, that the show makes people nervous,” laughs Garlin, who also serves as an executive producer on the series. “Especially from women! They say what Larry does makes them feel uncomfortable.”
Maybe it’s getting into arguments on food lines at parties with people who use the “chat and cut” (whereby you skip ahead in line by finding someone near the front to have a conversation with). Maybe it’s agreeing to help a fearful friend tell the man’s wife about her annoying habit of saying “LOL!” instead of actually laughing. It might even be his constant lying to avoid appearing at a charity event for sick children. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is the variety platter of behaviors that cause painful physical assaults in real life, but which comes across as just painfully funny in the series.
Watch Jeff Garlin’s favorite episode, “Wandering Bear:”
And as nerve-wracking as David’s pet peeves are in each episode, they’re also the high points because most of the time, they are taken from real irritations that everyone else has experienced and he has the forum to vent about. “That is all Larry,” says Garlin, who doesn’t weigh in on stories until later in the writing process. “We talk after the outlines are done. I never throw in anything of my own experiences then. My job is to just point out things aren’t making sense. I contribute when I do my dialogue in the scenes.”
He and David improvise their material, which comes easily since they have a strong friendship off-camera as well. That’s what makes their moments together so priceless. Watching scenes like one early on in this coming season, where they go to Pinkberry to get a last meal for Garlin’s dying dog but end up eating the dessert themselves, feel real and in-the-moment because they are. And it’s that reality that makes them so funny.
In addition to being what could be the show’s funniest season, this will also be its’ first away from the uncomfortable confines of Los Angeles. Several episodes are being done in New York because David wanted to shake things up. The move to Manhattan really seems to have helped give “Curb” a new burst of manic energy, giving David so much fresh material to work with that you wonder why he hadn’t thought of doing this before. This major decision came down like this. Explains Garlin: “Larry said, ‘You wanna go to New York this year?’ So I said, ‘Why not?’ Although Hawaii would be great too. Maybe Paris. Do some shows on the road.”
No matter where he goes, though, Garlin knows fans of the show will come up to tell him their favorite episodes. And the top two will be “The Doll” from Season Two and “The Car Pool Lane” from Season Four.
Watch a classic episode, “The Car Pool Lane:”
As for his personal favorite, Garlin admits that “if I could only watch one episode ever, it would have to be ‘Wandering Bear’ from Season Four. It’s the one where Cheryl has problems after sex with Larry and my dog gets run over. It’s my personal favorite.”
As memorable as all three of these episodes are, odds are that very soon, fans will start coming up to Garlin to rave about plenty of Season Eight installments. Just wait for episode three, featuring ex-Boston Red Sox player Bill Buckner as himself, and you’ll see. (Make sure you get your doctor’s permission first, though.)