The genius of Larry David knows no bounds. As soon as you think his HBO comedy series, Curb Your Enthusiasm, cannot get any funnier, it does. Take "The Freak Book", an episode from the latest, sixth series, currently screening on More4, in which Larry, his long-suffering wife, Cheryl, and his closest friends decided to buy a burial plot together so that when their individual days of reckoning arrived, they would all be buried next to one another. Of course, in true Curb style, Larry proceeded to irritate, annoy and aggravate every person in his inner circle of friends with his pronounced social peculiarities.
The aggravation started with an inappropriate choice of birthday gift for Ted Danson of a book about human freaks of nature. This and other transgressions, including Larry's driver groping Danson's wife, Mary Steenbergen, and both Larry and his best friend, Jeff, ignoring Danson's birthday-present ceremony by getting engrossed in reading the offending "freak book", set in chain a series of events that resulted in, as ever, Larry's downfall.
The farcical momentum built up to a denouement at a Paul McCartney concert, where Larry and John McEnroe inadvertently insulted Heather Mills, who, not surprisingly, was not seen on camera. How apt. How topical. How fitting. How inspired.
With every episode of Curb, David evolves the great American-Jewish comedy tradition of Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Jerry Seinfeld (with whom David created Seinfeld). "Seinfeldian" is now synonymous with a style of comedy that emphasises psychological neuroses, social confusion and miscommunication in personal and professional relationships.
Our own Ricky Gervais admires David greatly, and has credited him with inspiring and influencing The Office and Extras. Gervais even made a one-hour special, Ricky Gervais Meets... Larry David, last year, in which he interviews his hero.
Every TV comedy has a limited life span. Jerry Seinfeld recognised this when he ended his show in 1998, and famously John Cleese only ever made 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers. Curb was originally envisaged by David to be a much shorter comedy vehicle, not longer than a couple of series. One day, he will bring it to an end, but hopefully he will offer us a few more years of laughter, mirth and merriment before then.
Colin Mehigan, civil servant, Dublin