The return of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is always welcome, not merely because it is undisputedly one of the funniest TV shows of all time, but because the targets of its humour are so deserving. Astonishingly, it’s now 20 years since the series first appeared on HBO, and when it initially crossed the Atlantic it served as a novel portal for bemused Brits into the American extremes of what used to be called ‘Political Correctness gone mad’. For those unfamiliar with the show (and you should be ashamed of yourselves), it follows the journey of one man through the complex maze of changing social mores in polite (and not so polite) society.
After an on-off career as a stand-up, Larry David established himself as a successful comic writer with the creation of ‘Seinfeld’ in the 90s. Although ‘Seinfeld’ regularly touched on topics that had previously been beyond-the-pale for sitcoms (especially US ones), it had done so within the conventions of a traditional format; when Larry David decided to put himself in front of the camera with ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, however, he opted to depart the confines of the studio and went for the filmic ‘documentary’-style approach ala ‘The Office’. In ‘Curb’, David plays a fictionalised version of himself and gives vent to his inner demons by saying out loud what most people think; the Larry David of ‘Curb’ basically lacks a bullshit filter and cannot prevent himself from interjecting when anyone else would keep an opinion to themselves. But that’s why we love him.
Living in LA and therefore encountering Hollywood royalty from both the big and small screen, the Larry David of ‘Curb’ runs up against Tinsel Town’s ever-changing checklist of what can and can’t be said in company practically every episode. David’s response to the increasingly dogmatic strictures of the speech police is one of bemusement; but his inability to bite his lip means confrontation of the most inventively foul-mouthed nature is inevitable. Larry has a habit of putting his foot in it, but he never does so from a position of malice, merely understandable confusion.
Surrounded by fastidious practitioners of Woke thinking, Larry is regarded by them as the most un-PC individual on the planet, but he is actually the one character in the show without any prejudice, utterly immune to the pigeonholes that place people in clearly defined groups based on ethnicity, sexuality or gender. This was crystallised during one memorable episode in which he chaperones a blind man on a date with a Muslim woman in a burqa and the three of them end up sharing a raucous meal with a group of special needs car-washers; two members of a golf-club Larry sought to join stumble upon this impromptu gathering and their facial reaction betrays the prejudice that their veneer of social justice usually suppresses in public. In ‘Curb’, Larry David relentlessly exposes such hypocrisy and double standards, and he does so funnier than anyone else; he’s been doing it now for two decades.
Just as ‘Nathan Barely’ satirising a cult of stupidity restricted to a tiny clique of London media twats in 2005 inadvertently prophesised a pernicious trend that would soon spread across the country, Larry David noted what was happening in small showbiz circles long before it infected and polluted the whole of western culture. 20 years ago, nobody imagined the enclosed world David was taking a pot-shot at would eventually colonise everywhere; but it has – especially in this country, where all media outlets and cultural institutions are controlled by those with the loudest voices who all sing from an ever-expanding hymn-sheet of dos and don’ts. In 2020, it would seem we need ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ more than ever.
Yes, it was hard to avoid noticing the weekend was awash with outrage over actor Laurence Fox apparently ‘doing a Nick Griffin’ on ‘Question Time’, the BBC’s once-unmissable debating forum now seemingly on its last legs. Anyone who watched will testify Fox admirably stood his ground and refused to kowtow to the Woke narrative permeating the programme and its panellists; challenging an audience member insistent that a poor little Duchess has been hounded out of the country because the UK is a hotbed of virulent racism, Fox received the customary retort of the regressive left via the playing of the ‘white privilege’ card and shrewdly pointed out that judging him solely on the colour of his skin was racist – which it is; what was it Martin Luther King said about the content of one’s character being the most important factor?
It’s a measure of where we are that one man having the nerve to speak common sense and express the kind of authentically liberal values the majority of people actually live by could be branded far-right for his troubles. Some within the actors’ union Equity are even demanding Fox be subjected to McCarthy-style blacklisting, and his ‘posh-boy’ status is also being attacked. It’s interesting, though, that what this storm in a teacup has shown yet again is how much more the upper-classes and working-classes have in common with each other than either do with the middle-classes; the middle-classes hate both in equal measure – and Woke is inherently middle-class in its imaginary oppression and perpetual victimhood. It’s no coincidence the British electorate chose another posh-boy as their PM just over a month ago.
Laurence Fox was berated by the unelected Shami ‘I won a peerage’ Chakrabarti for not nominating one of the women candidates as his favoured Labour leader; heaven forbid the successor to Corbyn should get the job on merit rather than patronising affirmative action. Rebecca Long-Bailey’s continuation of the Identity Politics agenda in her own predictable response to the tedious Meghan soap opera has simply demonstrated yet again how this stance represents the Labour Party’s estrangement from its traditional supporters perhaps even more than Brexit. But just as Mary Whitehouse could see sex even when it wasn’t there, the far left views everything through the prism of racism (bar the blind spot of anti-Semitism, of course), and it’s been undeniably entertaining watching Grauniad scribes suddenly falling over themselves to defend a privileged pair of millionaires who are beneficiaries of the kind of inherited wealth they’re supposed to be opposed to.
When such smug zealots devote so much energy to crying racism on behalf of a pampered Duchess, it serves to highlight their criminal silence on the ‘wrong kind of victims’ – i.e. those who don’t fit the profile. The tragic consequences of this damaging divide-and-rule approach has been grimly highlighted by the revelations of the so-called ‘grooming gangs’ – or Pakistani Paedophiles, if you prefer – whose decades-long industrial abuse of underage girls in Greater Manchester was allowed to progress unimpeded due to so-called cultural sensitivity. You couldn’t make most of this up; indeed, how can Titania McGrath compete when Sheffield ‘Stasi’ University is recruiting students for paid reporting on the ‘micro-aggressive’ speech and thought crimes of their fellow guinea pigs? The whole Puritan project of Woke is gradually over-stretching to the point where it will (hopefully) eat itself. All we need is Larry David to document its death and we can at least look back in laughter.
© The Editor