The first time comedian Elon Gold met Larry David was during a 2017 panel discussion between Alan Dershowitz — the famous civil liberties lawyer-cum-Trump-era Martha’s Vineyard social pariah — and conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager. After the incident, Gould contacted the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” creator and star, who attended at the behest of then-friend Dershowitz (with whom David has since become widely publicized).
“I said, ‘What did you think of the debate?'” Gould recalled. “And Larry said, ‘I was angry the whole time. I was fed up the whole time.’ And I’m like, ‘What happened?’ And he goes, ‘I saw somebody I knew, and I tapped the person in front of me to tap the person in front of him, and he refused.’
Sun replied, “He didn’t forward the tap.”
Cut to Season 11 of HBO’s two-time Emmy-winning sitcom, and that “Forwarding the Tap” bit appears in a scene between David and Tracey Ullman, who guest stars as winky city councilwoman and Larry’s spirit animal, Irma Kostrowski. Innocently, Gould, who David didn’t remember by name — but remembered the “Forward the Tap” exchange, filing it away for future use — also makes his debut as the Hulu executive who greenlights “Young Larry,” pitched as part of a fantasy series. was arc of this season.
“That’s the other part [Larry’s] Genius He writes everything,” says Gould. “For him, it’s a puzzle. He puts together all the bits he’s collected over a decade and figures out where they go and for what scene. I was in his office just last week and I said, ‘Do you remember the origin of forward-the-tap?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I remember exactly what it is.’ And I go, ‘But do you know it’s me?’ He goes, ‘No’.
That Gold, a famous Jewish comedian on the stand-up circuit who called “American Dad!” Appeared in series like And “Crashing,” which landed a recurring role on “Curb” the same season Gold and David exchanged in an episode years ago, could, of course, be a coincidence. But it could also be “Basheret,” a Yiddish word meaning fate, or fortune. Basheret is also a word that guest star Jon Hamm says in this season’s premiere of “Curb,” along with a flurry of other Yiddish expressions — tzuris (sorrow), After that (shame), mechaye (Glee) – A show peppered throughout that, while always including Jewish tropes, has pulled out all the rhetorical stops this Emmy-nominated season.
To be sure, “Curb” has always been a comedy highwire act, elevating political correctness at almost every turn; The “Palestinian Chicken” episode in Season 8 rises to 1960s Mel Brooks levels in terms of its subversive genius. And David has never conformed to the industry’s expectations of what comedy “recognizes.” To wit, when broadcast journalist Michael Kay asked David in 2021 if he was concerned about Trump supporters potentially alienating the series’ 10th season MAGA hat subplot, David replied, “Separate yourselves. Go, go and separate! You my Bless you. No, I could give a shit.”
But given the rising rate of Jew-hatred in America — according to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents hit an all-time high in 2021 — that “Curb” is so innocently and unexpectedly Jewish (and Jew-ish). Turning antisemitism (and racial and cultural stereotypes) on its head out loud about what a critic or audience or basically anyone might think is one of 2022’s most exciting examples. – Screen rental.
“I was spewing words like tachliswhich had never been told on television before and is Hebrew for ‘real conversation,'” says Gould of his scenes, all of which are improvised. In “Curb,” there is no script.
“Larry and Jeff [Schaffer], the director and showrunner just said, ‘Go to town and have fun,'” Gould continues. “I’ll never forget the first time I did a scene. Larry put me completely at ease by saying, ‘Listen, we’re going to keep doing this until we’re both happy with the look. And it completely relaxed me. They just came and said, ‘Be as Jewish as you can. Have fun with it. Bring out whatever you have of Jewish weapons.’
That applies to a turn of phrase in the Jewish vernacular to which David himself was not privy.
“That scene where I say Ted Danson is real mechaya,’ in real life [David] I didn’t know,’ says Sun. “And that’s when Larry turned to me and said, ‘You just nailed it perfectly,’ which was such a compliment from him. Because it’s all improv so it’s like back and forth, back and forth. I compare it to tennis. [John] McEnroe. You hit the ball, he hits it back very hard. Now, you play your game. Now you hit it harder.”
Susie Essman, who played Susie Greene for “Curb’s” entire run, prides herself on being the series’ de facto “Yiddish Consultant.”
“Yiddish is the language of comedy,” she says. “My grandmother spoke Yiddish and she was the funniest person I knew. And I have some friends who speak Yiddish fluently, so when I want to check words, I go to them. Jon Hamm told me that speaking Yiddish was one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen. A Goyish god who spoke Yiddish was absolutely fantastic.
But “Curb” isn’t a series designed or watched specifically for Jews.
“Larry kind of resents the fact that other Jews think the show is just for them, because it’s really for everybody,” notes Gould. “It’s the show with the greatest observation on human behavior — period — that’s ever been done.”
“Larry writes about what he wants to write about and creates the scenarios he wants to create,” adds Essman. “He doesn’t think, ‘Oh, this is going to be offensive’ or ‘This is going to be offensive.’ I hate to speak for him, but I know it’s not something that goes through his mind. And I think it works because his character is telling the truth. His character is clearly making fun of himself. The reason he’s reacting is because he’s saying what everyone’s thinking but is afraid to say – and that’s basically the role of comedians. Your job is to say what everyone’s thinking but is afraid to say, and then say it with a little twist. The comedian’s job is to be a social commentator. yes
Season 11 deals with a variety of social issues, from hoarders of COVID-19 quarantine supplies to white nationalism, according to Essman, “small everyday hassles.”
In episode four, Larry’s housemate Leon (JB Smoove) reveals the self-consciousness he feels when eating watermelon in front of “white people”. In a gesture of solidarity, Larry announced that he had bought gefilte fish and that he would eat it “on a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese.”
In the same episode, Larry accidentally spills coffee on a Klansman’s “ecru” KKK robe on his way to a hate rally. After reciting songs from “Fiddler on the Roofs” “tradition” in the presence of a Klansman and engaging in an impromptu Talmudic discourse with a Jewish dry cleaner – “We don’t discriminate!” — Larry pays to clean clothes. After the clothes go missing, Larry convinces Susie to sew the Klansman a new one. Reluctantly, she complies. The result: a crisp, white robe with a giant Star of David.
“I thought it was fantastic,” she says.
But like everything else in comedy, someone will inevitably find “Curb Your Enthusiasm” offensive at some point.
“There’s an episode we shot at the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles and Larry steps in a dog’s poop, and he steals a shoe from a shoe pile commemorating the Holocaust. [exhibit] And it’s very funny, very edgy and, you know, I think some people took offense,” Essman says. “But I always think of Mel Brooks, and the first time he made ‘The Producers’ for making fun of the Holocaust a lot. Criticized. And what he said about it, and something that I totally agree with, is that the only power he had was ridicule. The only power he had over the people who did these evil and heinous things was to ridicule them, because he was a comedian. And he was able to do that, brilliantly. And I think Larry has a similar take on it. Sometimes, comedy is the only power you have.”