Why is Larry David so brilliant???
He's not the first to utilize uncomfortable awkwardness, not the first to build comedy around Murphy's Law, not the first use racial, sexual, class based humor.
The depth of Curb Your Enthusiasm's brilliance is shown through Larry's weekly fight to break down the walls of classism, prejudice, racism, fatism, appearancism and social hierarchy. While many look at him as a modern day menace, he is truly today's greatest champion for equality.
To Larry David, a waiter's or a coffee cart guy's place in the world is as important as a famous actor/producer's. They both play an equally important role in our societal ecosystem.
Audiences unconsciously realize that when Larry David fights with a waiter after serving himself because of slow service, he is actually respecting the waiter as an equal. As an isolated incident, Larry may be extremely disrespectful, rude and offensive but audiences also know that he would treat the most powerful person in the world the exact same way. Larry's not concerned about sounding condescending, he's not concerned about someone saying, "I cant believe you would treat a waiter (the help) like that." To him it's not condescension, he doesn't condescend; his brilliance is his character's inability to condescend and conversely his inability to recognize situations where audiences want him to employ a different set of behaviors out of respect for someone's social status.
People use a different set of behaviors for a waiter, someone they believe to be on equal footing and someone with superior societal standing -- Larry teaches us that that is not being polite -- that is the offense. In the end we realize:
It is actually manners, common courtesies, chivalry, being polite that is perpetuating our expanding societal divide. This is a worldwide problem.
LD simply has a strict set of ethics that he lives by and judges others' actions by... he judges every single person by the same set of rules. Money, status, class, job, weight, age, race play no part in this code of ethics. If you commit an offense against his definition of Right and Wrong there are repercussions to that offense - who you are has no impact on those repercussions.
Larry and the Waiter:
Larry and Ricky Gervais:
Comparatively, Curb is followed by HBO's Entourage, which depicted power agent Ari Gold unable to even fathom the possibility that his estranged wife could be sleeping with a waiter. Ari claims it wasn't her with another man it was that she may be with a waiter.
Larry is not blind to race, class, etc -- quite the contrary. He knows The Blacks are Black, Sung is Asian, Cheryl's Christian and Jeff is Jewish. The majority of his comedy is based on stereotypes, yet his treatment of people is equal -- the way he altercates is fair -- they way he offends sees no socio-economic status.
His audiences have learned to expect a fight with every character, but Larry is begging us to see the deeper message. All men and women are created equal until you cross Larry David's code of ethics.
Don't treat a coffe cart guy (below) any differently than you treat a CEO or any differently than you would treat a prostitute. We are all people, we all know wrong from right.
Larry and Mocha Joe:
A great article on golf by LD (published in the New Yorker) is here.