In the exaggerated mirror to Larry David’s life that is “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” even the comedian’s own divorce is fodder for comedy.
Sunday night’s episode of the HBO show was a classic case of art imitating life with the announcement by David’s fictional spouse, played by Cheryl Hines, that she was leaving. It was just in June that David and his real-life wife, Laurie David, separated after 14 years of marriage.
The real-life divorce was filed by Laurie David, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Their spokesman has called the split “very amicable.” On “Curb,” the breakup was set off when Cheryl called hysterically from a potentially crashing airplane. Larry told her to “call back in 10 minutes” because he was having their Tivo fixed by a cable guy.
Safe but still rattled, Cheryl returned to declare: “I’m leaving, Larry. I can’t do this anymore.”
“People ask me all the time, ‘How do you stay with him?”’ she explained. “I always tell them, ‘There’s another side to Larry that you don’t see.’ And then I just realized today, there’s no other side.”
Larry argued to no avail that the phone reception was bad and, besides, he was able to save her Tivoed shows like “Top Chef” and “Project Runway.” The rest of the episode finds the couple’s friends (some of whom are the REAL couple’s friends), choosing sides between either Larry or Cheryl.
Always close to lifeDavid has always pursued a realistic brand of comedy that pulls directly from life. He and Jerry Seinfeld created the NBC classic “Seinfeld” one night at a New York grocery, where they decided that their casual banter should be the show — famously referred to as “a show about nothing.”
Even that moment was eventually portrayed on “Seinfeld” when Jerry and George (the character based on David, played by Jason Alexander) decide to create a sitcom for NBC.
The origins of “Curb” were similar. While preparing for a comedy special on HBO, David’s friend and comedian Jeff Garlin suggested that David have the entire process filmed.
A loosely scripted, naturalistic approach is now the “Curb” signature. Though his character bears his name and much of his life, David has always said it’s an exaggeration — who he might be if he had no manners or restraint.
Whether David’s divorce would be reflected on “Curb” had been a matter of speculation. In an interview with The Associated Press in early September (after the season wrapped but before it hit the air), David played cagy when asked if his marital woes would seep into the show.
“Can’t fire Cheryl,” he replied.
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Asked if perhaps the fictional couple might feel increased discord, if not collapse, David said: “There’s something there, obviously. I wouldn’t shy away from dealing with it, if I do another year.”
Now David’s divorce has made its presence felt, and the following episodes will help determine whether his on-screen marriage still has any chance. A spokesman for HBO said the split would indeed constitute a full arc.
Both Larry and Laurie David, in real life, declined to comment.