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Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George pitched his idea for a show in which nothing happens? Curb Your Enthusiam is that show.

Larry David, the super-wealthy co-creator of Seinfeld, plays Larry David, the super-wealthy co-creator of Seinfeld, in this improvisational comedy. Edgy, cynical and anarchic to a degree not even achieved by its predecessor — basically, think if Seinfeld had been just about George.

In a typical episode, Larry casually offends someone in the first act, discovers that he desperately needs their help in the second, and then makes matters worse trying to secure it. Usually, he acts like such an unrepentant Jerkass to everybody he meets that when there's a genuine misunderstanding, he can't convince anybody of his innocence. Of course, this varies from one episode to the next. Sometimes, Larry is the more-or-less hapless victim of circumstance; sometimes, he makes all the worst possible choices on the way to his comeuppance. Either way, the comeuppance is the punchline to the show, and will be saved for the very end.

Tropes used in Curb Your Enthusiasm include:
  • Actor Allusion: Maggie Wheeler's best known role is Janice on Friends who has a trademark Annoying Laugh. In the Curb episode "Palestinian Chicken", she plays a woman who is annoying because she says "lol" instead of laughing.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Richard Lewis to Larry in the first episode.
  • Adam Westing: Apparently the real Larry David is more or less just his character on the show, but the other celebrities he encounters are all taking the piss out of themselves in one way or another.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In "Palestinian Chicken", Larry gets an anti-Semitic Palestinian woman into bed by overplaying his Jewishness.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Larry is rather often characterized as a "cheap Jew" in his endless quibbling and penny pinching over tips, bills, and other minor sums that he shouldn't really care about in his financial position. Other times, he objects to the cheapness of his friends, who are mostly Jews themselves.
  • Analogy Backfire: Jerry and Larry discussing the Seinfeld reunion show:

 Jerry: It's like, you're going back to an old girlfriend and say: "Hey, maybe I can make it work now?" Ten years later? Does that ever work in any relationship you can think of?

Larry: Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood! How about that? They got divorced, and they got back together.

Jerry: And then she slipped off the boat and died.

  • Annoying Patient:
    • In the episode episode "Interior Decorator", Larry throws a tantrum at his doctor's office over their waiting list policy, culminating in him tackling another patient.
    • In a later episode "The Hot Towel", he manages to get his doctor's home number on the condition that he will only use it when it's absolutely neccessary. He ends up calling it accidentally and tries to start a conversation with the annoyed doctor.
  • As Himself: The entire premise of the show is that this is actually Larry David, but the events are indeed fictional. Almost runs into Adam Westing territory, but then you realize the Larry David we see isn't all that far off from the Real Life Larry David. And many others, just a sample here...
    • Ted Danson and Richard Lewis as Larry's friends, along with Mary Steenburgen and Rosie O'Donnell.
    • Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer and Mel Brooks, during the Springtime for Hitler arc.
    • The entire cast of Seinfeld shows up regularly, as themselves, in the later seasons.
  • Bald of Awesome: Larry although many would view him as Bald of Evil.
  • Big "Shut Up!": Larry David to his secretary.
  • Brutal Honesty: Larry often acts completely tactless, and tells the truth in situations where he really shouldn't. However, he's also an accomplished liar.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Sammy. Though she isn't featured in many episodes and has relatively few speaking roles, you can be sure that any episode she's in will feature something awful happening to her.
    • Richard Lewis. Every time he gets a girlfriend, Larry always ends up ruining the relationship.
    • Marty Funkhouser, who Larry always seems to upset.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Pretty good. Prettaaay, prettaaay, prettaaay, pretty good.
    • Susie has "You bald fucking prick" or variations thereof, which are usually directed at Larry and "fat fuck" when referring to Jeff. She also had "She was hysterical" whenever Larry has upset Sammy (this is mostly in the early seasons).
  • Camp Gay: In the episode "Larry vs Michael J. Fox", Larry meets the son of his girlfriend, who exhibits stereotypical Camp Gay mannerisms - but he's only seven. Larry terms him "pre-gay".
  • The Chew Toy
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Cheryl.
    • Averted with Susie Greene who is far more neurotic and bad tempered than Jeff.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Funkhouser's sister, Bam-Bam.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Susie would be mute without this trope. Leon too, though he tends to go with "motherfucker".
  • Cringe Comedy (and how!)
  • Comedic Sociopathy: All the time.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Cheryl when the divorce begins part way through Season 6; she is still credited in the opening credits even if she does not appear in episodes or is present only briefly (once in a flashback). Season 8's premiere seems to officially put her on the bus.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Seinfeld reunion show features many plots that occurred to Larry in previous seasons.
    • A poster for The Producers can be seen in Larry's office.
  • Country Matters: Larry David's use of the word during a poker game causes an effeminate acquaintance to have a slow motion nervous breakdown. And of course, the obituary misprint: "Devoted sister, beloved cunt". And Marty Funkhauser's joke "P.S. Your cunt is in the sink". And Susie to Cheryl in the episode "The Grand Opening": "Fuck you, you carwash cunt! I had a dental appointment!"
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: The basic concept of the show. Plots are as follows: Larry David horribly offends a minor character, then realizes he needs their help. Larry tries to make amends, typically fails on an epic scale.
  • The Danza: Beyond the As Himself examples above, there are several good old-fashioned Danzas: Cheryl, Jeff, Susie, Wanda.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Larry explaining that the purpose of a mezuzah is for anti-Semitic pyromaniacs to recognize a house owned by Jewish people.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: A major driving force behind many of the show's plots, and much of its humor.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Larry does this constantly.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Jeff Garlin directed the season 2 episode "The Thong".
  • Disabled Love Interest: In the episode "Denise Handicapped", Larry dates Denise, a pretty woman in a wheelchair, mainly to use the fact that people are more considerate with the disabled to his advantage.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: In-story example; in season 3, Larry is cast in a Martin Scorsese movie, and wears a wig and a fake mustache for his role.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot is a Faux Documentary, unlike the rest of the series.
  • Everything Is Racist: Wanda thinks everyting Larry does is racist.
  • Eye Scream: The skewer incident with Ben Stiller.
  • Faux Documentary: The Pilot only, which was an HBO special about Larry trying to make an HBO special, and originally planned as a one-time project.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: A driving force of narration. Some fans use the term "Larry David moment".
  • Flashback to Catchphrase: In "Mister Softee", the origin of Larry's catchphrase ("Pretty good. Prettaaay, prettaaay, prettaaay, pretty good") is revealed: when he was a kid, he once played strip poker with a girl and lost. This was her reaction to seeing him naked.
  • Fully-Absorbed Finale: The seventh season's story arc is about creating a Seinfeld reunion show with a new finale, to "make up" for the old one (even thought in Larry David's words, "There was nothing wrong with it.)
  • The Fun in Funeral: In the episode "The 5 Wood", Larry tries to get his golf cub back from the casket of his friend's father.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck: Thor the wrestler spoke in this manner to Larry. "FREAK YOU!"
  • Groin Attack: In the episode "The 5 Wood", the Greene's dog, Oscar bites Larry's penis.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Susie, usually combined with Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Hellistics
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Larry and Leon have gradually turned into this.
  • I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy: In the episode "The Special Section", Larry's mother dies while he is shooting a film in New York. No one in his family tells him this because it was actually her dying wish that they not bother him about it. Larry is understandably upset that his mother died, had a funeral, and everyone has moved on - all while he was filming in New York and only just found out about it. He calls her out on this when he meets her in the afterlife.
  • I Am Not Spock: In season 2, Larry contemplates making a TV series about an actor who can't find work, because he's always typecast as his character from a hit television show, first with Jason Alexander, then with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
  • Idiot Ball: Every episode revolves around someone being completely inconsiderate toward an aspect of common etiquette or being unreasonably committed to enforcing a minor rule. Larry is usually the worst offender.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: In "Mister Softee", Susie has one in Larry's car, due to its rattling seat. Larry is horrified.
  • Improbable Weapon: In "The Hero", Larry beats up a mugger with a very hard baguette.
  • Incessant Music Madness:
    • In season 7 Sammy sings in the shower as Larry's trying to sleep, prompting an extremely agitated outburst. 'SHUT THE FUCK UP!'
    • Cheri Oteri's appearance is as a mentally unstable nanny who was driven mad by constantly hearing the Looney Tunes theme while working at an amusement park. She sings it constantly and it drives her into a murderous rage.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: "Frolic" by Luciano Michelini. Larry supposedly heard the theme in an ad and liked it.
  • Jerkass
  • Jews Love to Argue: Larry and most of his friends are Jews, and they bicker almost nonstop.
  • Kafka Komedy: While Larry is indeed an awful person, it's often his good-intentioned acts that backfire or are misunderstood, and make him hated.
  • Kavorka Man: Larry after Cheryl leaves him. Though there is one good reason why attractive, younger women would date him - he is very rich.
  • Living Lie Detector: When Larry suspects someone of lying, he will stare at them suspiciously for several seconds, trying to detect if they're lying or not. The same leitmotif always plays on the soundtrack. The audience is left to draw their own conclusion about how effective his method is. It's subverted by Jerry Seinfeld in the Season 7 finale.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Larry responds to his wife's concern that he never initiates sex by pointing out that he's always ready, and instructs her to tap him on the shoulder when she's ready. Of course, this backfires when she gives him the tap just after he's finished masturbating ("tapped out").
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Loretta leaves Larry because of this. Larry doesn't try to clarify the situation, because by this time, he had enough of her, but feels that he can't break up with her, because she has cancer.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Larry is mistaken for a child molester in the episodes "The Doll" and "The Table Read"
  • Mistaken for Racist: Larry, quite often, particularly by Wanda Sykes. He does have an unusual obsession with Hitler despite being Jewish.
  • Motor Mouth: Leon.
  • Near-Death Experience: Larry has one in the finale of season 5.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Jeff and Susie. There are two reasons why they are still together - their daughter Sammy, and that Susie has promised to get the most corrupt lawyer she can in the event of a divorce so she can take Jeff for all he has.
  • Oblivious Mockery: Several gags rely on this. Typically, someone tells Larry David how rotten they think George Costanza is or how a plot of Seinfeld was unbelievable because nobody would act that stupidly. They don't realize that George was based on Larry and that many "unbelievable" Seinfeld plots were based on things Larry actually did.
  • The Other Darrin: In-story example; when Jason Alexander quits the Seinfeld reunion, Larry suggests that he could play George and even brings up the other Darrin.
  • Person as Verb: In "Mister Softee", Larry makes a fielding error that costs his softball team the game, causing the coach to scream that he "Bucknered" it.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Larry hires a hooker so he could use the car pool lane. Being Larry, he then haggles over the amount she charges him based on the number of blowjobs he believes she could fit into the same amount of time.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted; the scripts are only outlines, and most of the dialogue is improvised.
  • Red Herring Twist:
    • The story arc of Season 3 is Larry investing in a restaurant, which opens in the finale, then never mentioned again.
    • Similarly Susie's pregnancy that motivates her and Jeff to get back together is never mentioned again once that plot point has been resolved.
  • Reunion Show: In season 7, Larry organizes a Seinfeld reunion show.
  • Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: The episode Carpool Lane follows Larry on his trip to a Los Angeles Dodgers game with a prostitute. This included shooting footage at a real game, including mundane footage of Larry going up and down stadium stairs and sitting down and getting up from his seat, most of which never made the final cut. However, in the exact same row sat Juan Catalan, who would later be accused of a murder that took place at the exact same time as the shoot. So even though the footage didn't make the episode, it ended up clearing an innocent man of murder.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Wanda
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Larry engages in these constantly.
  • Show Runner: Larry is a fictionalized version of himself, a version that still acknowledges that he was the showrunner on Seinfeld.
  • Show Within a Show: The Producers in season 4, and the Seinfeld reunion in season 7.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Susie is famous for her filthy language. Leon also qualifies.
  • Sit Comic: Larry David used to be a stand-up comedian.
  • Springtime for Hitler: A literal one. Mel Brooks (along with his wife Anne Bancroft) has Larry and David Schwimmer play the leads in The Producers in order to close the show. As the trope implies, it doesn't work.
  • Story Arc: Every season has one except the first.
  • Stuck on a Ski Lift: Used in "The Ski Lift" to force Larry and an Orthodox Jewish woman to be "alone" together after sundown; since this isn't allowed under Jewish law if they're not married, she tells Larry he has to jump off if he's truly Orthodox (which he's pretending to be). When he refuses, she does it instead.
  • Take Our Word for It:
    • In the episode "The Weatherman", a close-up photo of Larry's teeth horrifies everyone who sees it. It's not shown to the audience.
    • In "The Benadryl Brownie", Richard Lewis's girlfriend eats peanuts to which she's allergic to. As a result, her face becomes hideous, and, of course, it's never shown.
    • "The Nanny from Hell" features a little kid with an impressively large penis. For obvious reasons it's not shown.
  • Taking the Bullet: In "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox", Jeff claims that he'd do it for Susie, but she doesn't believe him. Later, he jumps in front of a bicycle messenger who was about to hit Susie. He suffers internal injuries and has to take a suppository... shaped like a bullet.
  • Teeny Weenie: In "The Ski Lift", Larry meets a woman, Lisa, who says that she used to date his friend, Jeff, but broke up with him because he has a very small penis. When Larry tells Jeff about this, he denies having a small penis, and says that actually it's Lisa who has a huge vagina.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Leon.
  • They Do: This trope is discussed on several levels and ultimately parodied in the Seinfeld arc. George's relationship with his ex-wife is used as a way to discuss how believable/satisfying it would be for Larry and Cheryl to get back together. Then the Season 7 finale seems to build up a standard They Do ending... Only for it to be subverted at the last moment with Larry's standard behavior ruining their moment.
  • Tourettes Shitcock Syndrome: It afflicts the French chef that Larry and his associates hire for their restaurant in Season 3.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • Larry and Cheryl. Also, when Cheryl leaves him in season 6, Larry dates a number of attractive women, and lives with Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox) for a while. Richard Lewis also had an array of very attractive girlfriends.
    • In the episode "Car Periscope", Larry decides to invest in a man's invention (the titular periscope) after seeing his unattractive wife, because he thinks that means that he's a man with integrity. He also refuses a potential business manager, after he sees that his wife is much attractive than him, thinking (rather hypocritically) that he must be superficial.
  • Understatement: In "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox", Larry talks to his girlfriend's seven-year-old son about Hitler and says that he "didn't really care for Jews. He thought they were a bit much."
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Larry and Richard Lewis are constantly fighting.
  • With Friends Like These...: Larry actually can't stand most people in his social circle, and constantly gets into fights with them, that sometimes even lead to physcal altercations.
  • Write What You Know: In-universe example: Larry writes things that happened to him into the Seinfeld reunion show (he did that with Seinfeld in real life too).
  • You Must Be Cold: Inverted in the episode "The Korean Bookie." Larry takes a jacket from a woman (though it's his jacket, and she took it without asking).