Clear History

The world needs Larry David.

He keeps us honest.

Larry-DavidA comedic genius, Larry has given us years of material as he pokes fun at our most serious selves. Whether from his days as head writer and co-creator of Seinfeld or acting as himself in his personal creation, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry has given us a consistent comedic lesson in life: the human condition is absurd.

Throughout the years, Larry has exposed our most foolish nature. He has poked fun at religion, immigrants, Parkinson’s, sex, dating, death, and, of course, life; you name it, he’s poked it. Perhaps his greatest gift is showing us how idiotic we can be and letting us laugh at ourselves through him. Whether it’s trying unsuccessfully to record TV shows or frustration while opening a tightly sealed package, Larry has cornered the market in stupid human tricks – essentially us just being ourselves.

Nothing is sacred with Larry. And somehow he gets away with it. How does he do this, when other comedians have lost careers tackling the topics Larry has? I’m really not sure. Is it his face, if you’re like me you can’t help but laugh when you see him? Or is it that through his comedy, Larry consistently puts himself in harms way. He is able to laugh at himself, which in turn allows us to as well. He’s never malicious, only showing us how hilarious we all are dealing with our own frustrations, which are most often childish.

larry-clear-historyHis most recent HBO project, Clear History begins with Larry, playing a fictional character: Nathan Flomm. Don’t be too nervous. He’s essentially playing Larry David, or at least the Larry David we know from Curb Your Enthusiasm. With a long beard and even longer hair, Flomm is the marketing director of a small upstart car company owned by Will Haney, played well by Jon Hamm. During a production meeting, Flomm mocks the Howard, the name of Haney’s new electric car, and an argument ensues. Haney offers to buy Flomm’s 10% of the company which he agrees, thus turning his back on one billion dollars as the Howard becomes a financial success. Humiliated, Flomm moves from California to Martha’s Vineyard and presses ‘clear history’ on his life, cutting his hair and beard and starting a new life. Renamed Rolley DaVore, he lives in relative peace; that is until Haney moves onto the island. Rolley either has to leave or find a way to get Haney out of his life for good.

If you like Larry David’s brand of comedy, you’ll like Clear History. It is essentially an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, only longer. Clear History offers newer life scenarios which Larry makes fun of, whether two cars coming head to head on a one way road or a waitress placing cutlery on a dirty table instead of on top of a napkin, the show has the same feel of Larry’s legendary HBO series. While it’s not as edgy or crude as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Clear History still offers some humorous moments. Stands out include Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber who play eccentric and unsavory characters. Their comedic sense and improvisational skills are of high quality, as it is the one thing needed to survive playing opposite Larry.

Admittedly, I love Larry David. I now know how a Pavlovian dog feels. As I mentioned earlier, the moment I see him, I immediately smile. This is a good thing, but Larry’s humor can be an acquired taste. I’ve pushed the joys of watching Curb Your Enthusiasm for years and many people tell me they just can’t watch it. It’s not because it isn’t funny, they tell me. It’s because they feel horribly uncomfortable for what is about to come, they can’t watch the shame, embarrassment and awkward moments which will inevitably befall Larry. At times, Larry is like nails on a chalkboard. He irritates, annoys and confronts others looking for a reaction. Maybe you have to be someone who enjoys those moments. Let me clarify. Someone who enjoys watching those moments happen to others.

Because I sure do.

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