HBO has harsh reality

Melissa Treolo

Larry David is not very well-liked. In fact the HBO comedy, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” is made up of a series of episodes chronicling the misadventures that occur when one has made an art out of regularly pissing people off. And that’s all part of the fun.

For those that are new to the sitcom, now in its fifth season, Curb Your Enthusiasm has a reality show feel to it. Scenes are improvised and most actors, which throughout the show have ranged from Ted Danson to Ben Stiller, play themselves. The only three actors that take on a different role are Jeff Garlin, who plays David’s manager Jeff Greene, Cheryl Hines, who takes on David’s disapproving wife and Susie Essman, Greene’s habitual F-bomb dropping wife.

Episodes focus on the verbal abuse that is heaped on David as people come into unfortunate contact with his world, which is the stuff of trivialities. The pathological attention David gives to the small things in life often backfires on him in hilarious ways. In one episode David’s stubborn avoidance of the polite “stop-and-chat,” a term he uses for stopping to chat with someone he knows on the street, leads to a court date and a subsequent stint on the street with a mandated sign that reads, “I won’t steal silverware from restaurants.” A refusal to give overage and uncostumed trick-or-treaters any candy leads to a spray painted reference to David’s baldness on the front of his multi-million dollar home.

David is, however, artful at getting what he wants on occasion. One episode shows him using his mother’s death as an excuse to get out of numerous social engagements and even to get sex out of his wife. In another episode he has his revenge on a man who criticized him for humming a Wagner tune by hiring a string orchestra to play Wagner all night long in the man’s own front yard. David isn’t a totally bad guy though. He also hires the same orchestra to come to his house the next day and play his wife’s favorite Wagner piece on her birthday.

The show comes from a 1999 script, written by David for HBO, called “Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm.” This wasn’t David’s first appearance on the comedic circuit however. He is a veteran writer and performer in a world that includes a stint on Saturday Night Live in 1984, the 1980’s ABC series, “Fridays” and a handful of Woody Allen films. He is perhaps best known for being the co-creator of the long running and highly-acclaimed show, “Seinfeld.”

“Seinfeld,” which aired for 180 episodes in the 90’s, is known as the comedic textbook about nothing. David’s trivial pursuits on “Curb” follow in the same vein but with more of an edge. The show airs on HBO, the same cable television network that boasts The Sopranos and Sex and the City, so obscenity and regular network television-outlawed situations are a given. There is no nudity, but boundaries are certainly pushed. Pubic hair situations, dirty massages and discussions on oral sex are all part of the fare.

The show is absurdly funny though and one has to respect a man who can still maintain a pretty substantial ego after being subjected to continuous waves of hatred, often by a whole roomful of people. David seems to take it all in stride and simply goes on to the next situation that’s going to inevitably piss someone off.

The new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is airing right now and will be running through the month of November. New episodes are on Sundays, at 9 p.m., with reruns shown throughout the week. Seasons one through four are currently available on DVD.