October 12, 2005

A comedy intervention.

Ron Rosenbaum slams Larry David:
Again, Larry, what makes the difference this season is that the character you’re playing isn’t being mocked for his self-absorbed sense of superiority. He’s being portrayed as the lone Truth Teller, who can see through politically correct sensitivities and tell it like it is, even if it costs him.

But Larry, nothing prepared me for the third episode. You know I was a little worried about the third episode, because I’d begun writing you this letter on the basis of the first two. What if the third episode represented a turn-around? I’d have to revise everything.

No worries! The third episode reaches a new low; it is mainly devoted to making fun of Hispanic household help! Now I know this is an important issue for your new super-rich crowd, and perhaps in an earlier season you’d do a satire on your rich friends’ concern about their Hispanic help. But here you just gratuitously abuse the help, Larry. Portray household help as thieves and fools. (There’s a particularly unfunny and cruel mockery of a handyman called Jesus. And needless to say, Larry, you can’t resist the cutting-edge ethnic humor that comes with asking Jesus whether he pronounces his name “Jeesus” or “Hey-soose.” So fresh and funny!)

I don’t know what to say, Larry. I’m speechless. A comedy intervention is required. Or should we just give up and watch the genuinely edgy work of, say, Sarah Silverman or Mary-Louise Parker (so devastatingly funny and sexy on Weeds)? Or even Lisa Kudrow—far braver, even self-destructively braver (her show was cancelled because it was so uncompromising), far more cutting-edge than this season’s pretense of being cutting-edge.
Ah, the brilliant Lisa Kudrow, whose wonderful show "The Comeback" was just too painful for people to take.

But is Rosenbaum right about the new season of CYE? I'd been thinking something's not quite right with the new episodes. Some of the scenes struck me as hastily filmed and haphazardly cut together. Maybe Larry could write some episodes about how Larry's show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is going to the dogs ... including a certain racist dog named Sheriff, the central figure in the second episode, which Rosenbaum calls "a woefully dated, grindingly unfunny 30 minutes which I would venture to call the most annoying TV episode of the century so far."


Dirty Harry said...

I must admit that there is something off about the show this season. It's gone from event viewing to "if I remember" viewing.

But Rosenbaum's hand-wringing over the "new low" of making fun of the Hispanic help is annoying. Why is it a "low?" David's spent 4 seasons making fun of rich white people and one episode about Hispanic's a low? When did Hispanic's get a pass on satire? Political correctness is just a pretty word for censorship.

However, the episode not being funny isn't debateable. It was also predictable.

Yes, a comeback for "The Comeback" please!!! I am dying to know what happens to that character now that she's gotten the fame she wished for. But am beggining to care less about David's next run in with a guy in a wheelchair.

Maybe David could really do something brave and ridicule environmentalists... Will he sleep on the couch for his art?

aidan maconachy said...

There is a fine line between going after political sensitivities and issues etc and targeting people, especially minorities, in a manner that comes off as cheap and smug.

Okay well ... it depends .... for example I have some pretty vicious and funny jokes about radical Islamists ( i.e. Q. why does Musab al Zawqari carry a piece of camel dung in his pocket? A. Photo ID ), but I would balk at humor that was simply mocking mainstream American Muslims for the sake of it. In the same way I balk at humor aimed at white "trailer trash" or Christian evangelicals that seems driven by contempt.

When I watch a comedy act of any sort, I look most of all for intelligence and an ability to rise above easy ethnic targeting.

I know to an extent what it's like to be on the receiving end of this. I'm Irish and when I worked in England in my teens, there was a constant stram of "paddy" and "bogtrotter" jokes, a lot of really offensive and crude. This stuff just serves to drive wedges in deeper, and the laughter it provides is undercut with cynicism and contempt.

Harkonnendog said...

I used to enjoy watching Larry interact with his Christian in-laws because he was always respectful... The disrespect in this last episode, not of Christianity, (that's not new) but of his wife's family, annoyed me.

Has Larry David gone Jon Stewart? Has he gone from funny lefty to bitter lefty?


Still the funniest show on television. "What's Cheryl's breast size?" lol!

miklos rosza said...

It's still often very funny. To the extent there's a problem it's that it does feel a bit like Larry's spent too much time glorying in his rave reviews.

whit said...

A friend of mine was telling me about this episode. He thought it was hilarious. He called Larry David, "a comic genius." Go figure.

chuck b. said...

I just watched this episode, and it was hilarious--much better than the first two from this season which were waaay under par.

Making fun of Hispanic help? cruel mockery?--oh, please. That's a wild overstatement.