Monday, November 16, 2009

Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 7, Episode 9: "The Table Read")

Something towering and uncanny was achieved in yesterday’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–), which had the whole main cast of Seinfeld (1990-1998) reunited, playing themselves, playing Seinfeld cast reunited to shoot one last Seinfeld episode. Tangled enough for ya?

Until this (final?) season, the specter of Seinfeld lurked here and there in CYE, and both Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander made appearances on the show. The current seventh season basically replicates the narrative arc of season four, which culminated in a revival of Mel Brooks’ Broadway version of The Producers, with Larry David playing Max Bialystock. Since we are only one week away from the Season Seven finale, I’m really wondering what kind of a treat David cooked up: maybe it will be staged entirely as a Seinfeld episode gone terribly wrong…? Cannot wait!

Still, I salute the way David is balancing between social satire, private fun verging on an in-joke, and the mathematical precision of his farcical scripts. The comic redemption of Michael Richards’ real-life racist rant seen in yesterday’s episode was great, and so was the whole “pussy-rash” thread.

David’s biggest virtue as a comedian and a screenwriter is his immense flexibility: he can do several things at once, and yet never lose the main focus of the show, which is the wide-eyed astonishment over how easily people adapt (and enforce) social conventions upon themselves and others. This is of course a characteristic trait of Jewish humor as a whole – exemplified by Sacha Baron Cohen’s work, as well – but David has the performing affability of a truly great comedian, and he never comes off as insecure in his shticks (it happens to Cohen, when every now and then he effaces himself and showcases his “victims” instead of Borat’s or Brüno’s reactions).

And how precious is a line like: “You cannot give to Jason anything that can be inserted”…?

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