Larry David can’t curb his instincts

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Larry David, Hollywood’s most acclaimed curmudgeon, has apparently devised a scheme to get the last laugh with viewers and critics.

The latest episode of his HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which ran on Super Bowl night, provides intriguing clues for those of us who have savored all 12 seasons of David’s irreverent sitcom, as we did with his earlier nine-season ode to nothing, “Seinfeld.”

“Seinfeld” ended its run on NBC in May of 1998 with a finale that attracted a huge audience of 76 million—and countless more in reruns. The episode had Jerry and his pals detoured to Massachusetts where they witness an overweight guy getting carjacked at gunpoint and, rather than coming to his aid, make fat jokes. Charged with violating a local Good Samaritan law, they wind up in jail.

David has spent several decades defending the “Seinfeld” finale, which he returned to write after leaving the show for two seasons. A reviewer at “Entertainment Weekly” said, “the show’s swan song was off-key and bloated.”

Seinfeld, himself, had second thoughts. “I sometimes think we really shouldn’t have even done it,” he conceded years later. “There was a lot of pressure on us at that time to do one big last show, but big is always bad in comedy.”

Now, it appears that in the final season of “Curb” David is doubling-down on the controversial plot. He and his pals find themselves in Georgia where Larry has been charged with violating election laws by bringing water to a woman who waited in the hot sun for over two hours to vote. Despite facing a fine and up to a year in prison, Larry pleads not guilty. The episode ends with the judge saying, “Trial set for 90 days hence.”

That would appear to be the setting for the finale. Will people from Larry’s past testify to his social hostility and ill temper? Will the witnesses even include Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards, who showed up on “Curb” back in season seven?

Will Larry David make his exit with the same irreverent view of comedy, television and society that has made him a legend among the cranky?

David has long advocated what he describes as “no hugging, no learning.” His characters are indifferent to the world around them, while he is annoyed by everything around him — including the oblivious masses. In a 2014 podcast interview David acknowledged the “grief” he took about the “Seinfeld” ending, but explained, “I was not interested in an emotional ride, and neither was Jerry.”

The difference, of course, between now and 1998 is that we all seem more easily annoyed by life’s little insults. So maybe Larry won’t go to prison. Maybe he’ll persuade the court that he, like Jerry, has been right all along about confronting the absurdities around us. Maybe he’ll finally be seen as heroic.

Nah. I think Larry will wind up behind bars.

Copyright 2024 Peter Funt distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Peter Funt’s latest book is “Playing POTUS: The Power of America’s Acting Presidents,” about comedians who impersonated presidents.