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Larry David worries his way into success

Star of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ isn't relaxed as fifth season begins
/ Source: The Associated Press

Tell Larry David how much you enjoyed the first couple episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” back for its fifth season Sunday, and his response is immediate.

“Wait, you didn’t get the third? You should have gotten three,” he says.

Well, no, but the first two were a delight.

“Good. I never know how people will react,” David replies.

Such anxiety is familiar to viewers who know the writer-comedian-actor through the HBO series in which his character, also called Larry David, frets, kvetches and crashes heedlessly through social convention.

That fictional Larry David is nothing like the original, according to the original himself.

“It’s not my life. It has nothing to do with my life. Doesn’t resemble my life in any way, shape or form,” he said.

So the series about a successful writer-comedian-actor living and working in the Los Angeles area isn’t about him at all?

“There are similarities, and I’m envious that he can say a lot of the things I want to say, but can’t. That’s one of the things why it’s so much fun to do. You get to say these things you never say in life,” David said.

In the new 10-episode season, debuting 10 p.m. ET Sunday, his unfettered comments are directed at colleagues, children, blacks, lesbians and, in one wonderful scene of matrimonial danger, his lovely and patient wife, Cheryl David (Cheryl Hines).

Larry David worries that giving away plot details will spoil the comedy for viewers. There’s no surprise in finding him back in fine, self-obsessed form and surrounded by his band of friends and rivals, including Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis and Jeff Garlin as Jeff Greene.

Guest stars this season include Ted Danson, Rosie O’Donnell, Mekhi Phifer, Shelley Berman, Paul Dooley, Bob Einstein and Kevin Nealon.

TV audiences became familiar with David’s sensibility through “Seinfeld,” the wildly successful NBC sitcom that starred Jerry Seinfeld as a man bemused by life’s oddities and pitfalls. The guy in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is ready and willing to be driven nuts by them.

David, co-creator of “Seinfeld,” said he didn’t make a point of pushing the envelop further this season in exploring his character’s darker side, but concedes he may have.

“The more an audience becomes familiar with what you’re doing and the more they start to like it, the more you can get away with,” said David.

An episode he’s just been editing offers a case in point.

“I really wouldn’t want to give it away, but I just witnessed something I did that could be considered slightly sociopathic,” David told The Associated Press.

Laurie's helping waysIn truth, he seems more eager to talk about his wife’s activism than about his show or himself. Among other things, Laurie David is producing a program on global warming and started a “virtual march” with an online petition urging politicians to protect the environment.

The Stop Global Warming Virtual March on Washington, in conjunction with MTV’s college network mtvU and continuing until Earth Day next April, also includes a sweepstakes in which the prize is David’s hybrid car from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Is he engaged in the cause as well?

“I’m engaged because she prevailed upon me to perform and write, that’s how I’m engaged,” he said. “And she donated my car without asking. My assistant told me about. She said, ‘What are you going to do for a new car?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘Your wife donated your car to the contest to stop global warming.’

“I picked up the phone and said, ‘What the hell did you do to my car?”

Sounds just like Larry David, real, fictional or somewhere in between.