Read on to find out what the semi-autobiographical show has hidden under its skirts. From some of the more obvious stuff to facts that will undoubtedly surprise you, there are plenty of fun details to learn about this successful show.
Larry David Isn't Like That in Real Life
On the show, the main character, Larry David, is a misanthropic jerk who never stops busting people's chops. It gets him in a lot of trouble with other characters, he makes enemies easily, and sometimes he even has run-ins with the law. Thankfully, despite what you might think, the real Larry David isn't like that at all.
He's admitted that it's a highly satirized version of himself, maybe the kind of person he'd be if there were no social rules. If he did act like that in real life, he'd be risking physical harm and jail time every single day. Larry's process involves taking feelings he has about life, blowing them out of proportion, and then film them for us to enjoy.
It Was Originally Going to be a One-Off
The first version of the show was actually just an hour-long mockumentary about a man who simply doesn't understand social cues, but as soon as the script started making the rounds at HBO, they knew they had a real hit on their hands.
With a little bit of urging (and, probably, a lot of money) they were able to convince David to keep working on the project, building it into the off-the-wall sitcom we all know and love today. They ordered a ten-episode season right off the bat, and the show is still going strong, even twenty years later.
Susie Essman Doesn't Actually Like Swearing
One of the characters on the show, Susie, is famous for her foul mouth, often aimed at Larry. In real life, however, the actress isn't big on curse words. That doesn't stop tons of fans of the show from coming up to her and asking if she would swear at them.
She's found she doesn't enjoy doing it unless she's being paid, but, no matter where she is, in Los Angeles, doing some grocery shopping, overseas, or at the park, people keep asking her to swear. In one shocking example that could have come straight out of the show, it even happened at her mother's wake. Oh, dear.
Jeff Garlin is Being Made Fun Of
Jeff Garlin is a large man. Anybody can see that, but when it came time for Susie Essman to unload on him for part of an episode, she was hesitant to mock his appearance. Garlin himself assured her that it was going to be fine.
After that, the gloves came off, and his image was brought up every time someone needed to take a chunk out of him. There was no going back for the character, but we know he doesn't mind it too much. For many people, it helped the show feel more natural that Susie made fun of Jeff.
The Title's Meaning
A lot of people have wondered where the title of the show comes from. Well, Larry David was writing the original script at about the same time that “Seinfeld” ended, which he was a big part of. He wanted to make sure people knew this new show wasn't going to be much like “Seinfeld,” despite his involvement in both.
The title is also a motto for David – make sure your enthusiasm is always curbed, or you may get too excited about something that won't pan out. A little glass-half-empty, maybe, but not exactly bad advice.
Cheryl Hines Didn't Think She Was Right
When Hines walked in to audition for the spot of her character, she didn't think that the character was going to be right for her. Neither did her agent. Thus, when she was auditioning, she had no stress whatsoever, believing there was no way she would get the role.
However, she liked Larry immediately, they improvised together and ended up having a great time. Four hours later they called her and told her she got the part. The show was also looking for a total unknown, and Hines, at the time, had an empty resume.
Jeff Garlin Doesn't Like His Character
During a cast Q&A, Jeff Garlin said what he really thinks about his character. He said that Jeff Greene isn't the smartest guy out there and that he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He also confessed that he didn't want to be in the show at all, he actually wanted to direct it, but Larry David insisted that Jeff should portray his manager.
The character evolved over time, but Garlin still thinks that Greene is the biggest villain of the show since he doesn't care about other people. He wants to keep his clients happy, but other than that it's all about Jeff.
Cheryl David and Larry's Ex-wife Aren't Similar
Creating a show that is autobiographical in nature must be a minefield. If it's for entertainment, you want the characters to be entertaining, but you also don't want to threaten your relationships by making fun of your loved ones.
So, when Cheryl Hines was asked how well she knew David's real (at the time) wife, she responded that they had never met. She specifically didn't want to confuse aspects of the character and the real person, which we bet Larry David was grateful for. The on-screen marriage didn't last any longer than his real-life marriage did, however.
All of The Dialogue is Improvised
Most fans know that episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” don't really have a script. Not in the proper sense. Larry David writes an outline that breaks down what is supposed to happen in each scene, giving narrative beats and motivations.
Then, the actors hit the set and do whatever they want as long as it follows the outline. Each scene needs seven or eight takes, which is a lot for television, but the result is always incredibly funny. The problem is, shooting so many takes can often result in something like thirty hours of footage for a single episode, which then has to be trimmed to about thirty minutes.
The Show Helped Jeff Garlin Get Healthy
Right before the show went into production, Jeff Greene's actor Jeff Garlin had suffered from health issues. Despite the show being a weekly series with a tight shooting schedule, Garlin credits the show for helping him recover.
He had to watch his health, stay active, and work with others – all things that are good for getting back in the groove. It was actually Garlin's idea to shoot the series (even if he didn't expect to have a role himself). David and Garlin had offices next to each other at Castle Rock Entertainment, and Garlin encouraged David to pursue the show.
David and Lewis First Met as Kids
On the show, when Larry David and Richard Lewis speak to each other, they will say just about anything. The two are close friends in real life, but it wasn't always that way. Lewis has told the story a few times: He and David first met at the age of twelve at summer camp, and they both felt hatred at first sight.
Ten years later they discovered each other on the stand-up circuit and found they were able to get along a little better. They still take shots at each other, as we see on the show, but it comes from a place of friendship and love.
Why Do the Move all the Time?
On the show, both Larry and Jeff seem to be constantly pulling up roots and moving into different houses. This isn't an artistic choice – the real-life neighbors of the houses they shoot in keep complaining about the noise. A lot of scenes devolve into shouting matches, especially if Susie is there, and the sound can become irksome.
HBO has to keep renting different houses so that people don't get too annoyed, nobody wants to have issues that would slow down the shooting schedule. Now that we think about it, we wouldn't want to live next to the show's version of Larry David either.
David Lies to Everyone
Since he's the writer, only Larry David gets to know the story's full outline ahead of time. The other actors only get their own scenes. On the show, David lies to Cheryl a lot, and that means that the real Cheryl doesn't know the truth either.
He lies to a lot of the characters, actually, because he's that kind of guy. Hines will often ask him for information about the storyline to try and portray things in a certain way, but David doesn't like to say much – he thinks that this produces more honest reactions and keeps the show feeling more natural.
Jorge Garcia Got His Role on “Lost” Thanks to the Show
In the 4th season, Jorge Garcia played a guest character on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." This was before the actor got famous for his role as Hurley on the popular show “Lost.” But it was actually this very guest spot that helped Garcia get into “Lost.”
The producers of the show were working on casting when the season four episode aired on HBO. For some reason, they saw Garcia and decided that he would be the perfect guy to play Hurley. Hard to say why exactly, but the choice worked.
How J.B. Smoove Got His Role
One of the things that gave the show a boost after it had started was the addition of J.B. Smoove as Leon Black. He brought a different kind of energy to the show that still fit in with the other characters, and gave David a new comedic foil.
The only reason Smoove was in town to audition was because a friend of his passed away. He had been traveling around the country doing stand-up, and his agent decided to set him up for the audition on a lark while he was in L.A. It ended up working out perfectly.
Where Did the Theme Song Come From?
Every time the show starts, viewers hear the tune “Frolic” by Luciano Michelini. It's whimsical, nonsensical, and loaded with awkward tension – making it the perfect song for this show. It's possibly one of the best pairings since many people only know the song as “the 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' theme song.”
So where did Larry first hear this breezy, carefree song that so perfectly gels with the misanthropic attitude of David as he tackles serious subject matter? It was on a bank commercial, it stuck in his head, he wrote it down, and a few years later he knew he had the perfect fit.
Why Ted Danson Was on the Show
Ted Danson first saw the pilot of the show after eating dinner with friends, including Larry David himself. They were all sitting in a boiling attic room, which naturally, made many of the guests fall asleep.
Danson thought the pilot was a little goofy, but he felt bad for David, telling him if he needed some help he could always call him up. Surprisingly the show was a big hit (surprisingly to Danson, at the very least), and then about a year later, he got a call from David with a part. It was all because Ted felt sorry for the guy after a not-so-good premiere episode.
The Show Proved Someone's Innocence
In what might be the most shocking behind-the-scenes fact about any show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was used to help a man prove his innocence. A man named Juan Catalan was arrested on suspicion of taking someone's life in Los Angeles, and his alibi was that at the time, he was at a baseball game. His lawyer subpoenaed footage of the game but couldn't find Catalan.
Enter Larry David. The show had been shooting the crowd that day, and in one of the unused takes, Catalan could be seen, proving he was innocent. David has called it the one decent thing he's done in his life, and it was accidental.
It Was the Only Way to Get a “Seinfeld” Reunion
We all know that Larry David was one of the driving forces behind “Seinfeld,” but even he didn't want to do a reunion of the famous show. He's always thought that TV reunions were sappy, and never captured the essence of the original.
Of course, having the characters appear as themselves on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is another idea entirely. David had no interest in doing a real reunion, but he was still able to give fans what they wanted thanks to his new show.
The Ending Won't Be Big
Larry David's original award-winning show, “Seinfeld” has a famous, controversial ending that many fans didn't like that much. Ending such a long-running series is always a tough job – just look at “Game of Thrones.”
Larry David vowed that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” wouldn't have the same kind of ending. Obviously, the show will end at some point, but he doesn't think it's necessary to have a big finale as “Seinfeld” had. This is one of the reasons why it's always so exciting to hear another season is coming – fans know that any season can be the end of the show, even if that last episode didn't seem like a finale.
Cheryl Hines's Friends Didn't Know it Was Fictional
The show was originally supposed to be a documentary about Larry David's stand-up. It developed into being a mockumentary, and then into a fictionalized version of his life. More and more changes occurred and new characters were introduced.
However, the mocking aspect remained. Some people didn't exactly get that memo, however. Cheryl Hines's family and friends in Florida were apparently upset that she had gone and married a big TV producer and comedian – and they hadn't even been invited to the wedding! Thankfully, it was easy to explain that it was just a show.
Not Too Happy
Larry David keeps a lot about the show close to the chest and doesn't even share major plotlines with other actors. One thing, though was clear from the beginning: his on-screen marriage wasn't supposed to be very happy. He said it should have some happiness, but not too much. He wanted the marriage to be believable.
They liked each other, but they were still people with issues and they didn't always get along. David admitted that the two marriages started to get closer as time went on, with the biggest difference only being that his real marriage had produced children, and his on-screen marriage did not. He said it was a lot easier for him to play somebody without kids.
Based on a True Story
Cheryl Hines went on record with “TV Guide,” saying that her favorite episode was the 2002 Christmas episode where her family visits. The idea for the episode came straight from the real Cheryl's life – she was home in Florida, and someone had made a little cookie manger with a Jesus cookie.
Everybody was told very plainly not to eat the cookie, but Cheryl couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if TV Larry David was there. She called him up and explained the idea, and David loved it. In the episode, he eats the baby Jesus cookie.
The Marriages Ended at the Same Time
Larry David and his real-life wife, Laurie David, got divorced in 2007, and the detail quickly made it into the show. Long arcs of the seventh and eighth seasons involve David's separation from, and then divorce from, his wife Cheryl. Hines, however, didn't exactly agree with the decision, just from a character standpoint.
She asked who else could possibly love David, and pointed out that their on-screen marriage is also very entertaining. Susie Essman said that David creates based on where he is in life. If he's not actually married, it wouldn't work for him to be married on the show.
Jeff Garlin Lays Down the Odds
Several years ago, in 2015, Jeff Garlin was at the Television Critics Association, and someone asked him if it was likely “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would come out with another season. By that point, they weren't making headlines anymore, with some people thinking the show was winding down.
Garlin joked that Larry David was so rich he didn't have to do anything unless he really wanted to. Jeff put the odds at fifty-one percent that the show would continue. Thankfully, the odds were in our favor.
Larry David Bets Against Season Nine
While Garlin thought it was closer to fifty-fifty odds for a season nine, David knew the truth. He told “Grantland” at the end of 2014 that the odds were six-to-one that season nine wouldn't happen. However, 2015 saw things turning out a little differently, and David started working on a new season.
The ninth season was greenlit in 2016, and it began airing in October of 2017. Only two months later season ten was confirmed, premiering at the beginning of 2020. June of 2020 saw the announcement of a season eleven for the show, despite David saying in his tongue-in-cheek way that he deserves to be canceled.
In a famous second-season episode, Larry David gets courtside tickets to a Lakers' game and ends up tripping the immense Shaquille O'Neal, who goes down painfully. It was Shaq's eighth acting credit at the time since he had appeared in “Kazaam,” “Arli$$” and a number of other roles.
No, he wasn't lighting up the box office, but being an actor and a superstar baller at the same time is still pretty impressive. He even went along with the rest of the cast, improvising his lines for the entire episode. Most notable was his scene playing Scattergories with his doctor, when he calls peanut butter a dairy product.
Shaq's Favorite Episode
Following clumsy Larry accidentally hurting Shaquille O'Neal during a basketball game, his character is laid up in the hospital with an injury. Eventually, Larry David brings him a set of “Seinfeld” videotapes in order to help him pass the time and make sure there isn't any bad blood between the two of them.
During the ensuing discussion, Shaw (Shaq) reveals that his favorite episode of “Seinfeld” is “The Contest,” which has the four main characters engaging in a contest to go as long as possible without taking things into their own hands. This is regarded as one of the best episodes of the show and was written by Larry David.
The Starbucks Meme
At one point in the second season, Larry David goes out for coffee with Cheryl, but you can guess that it didn't go well. David wasn't much of a Starbucks guy, so when it came time for him to order, he just let the barista decide, saying “Just give me one of the vanilla things.”
It's been a classic line for a long time, and if you ask anybody who has worked at a Starbucks, they'll be able to tell you all the times jokesters used the line to try and get a laugh. The line even has its own entry in Urban Dictionary.
Directed By Cast Members
Twice during the show's run, cast members have directed episodes. The first was the season two episode “The Thong,” in which Larry no longer wants to meet his psychiatrist after seeing him in a thong at the beach. Jeff Garlin directed it.
The second time was all the way in season ten, the episode “Artificial Fruit,” directed by Cheryl Hines. It has Larry trying to make amends with Alice, his assistant. Of course, Larry David has directed a number of episodes. At the same time, Jeff Garlin is an executive producer for the series as a whole.
Hard to Tell the Difference
Jeff Greene and Larry David (the character) have a natural relationship that gets them into all kinds of trouble over the course of the many seasons. However, David (the real person) and Jeff Garlin didn't start out with the kind of natural relationship we see.
Garlin has gone on record saying that he had no idea if Larry David actually liked him or not when they started working together. He eventually figured out that, because David didn't openly dislike him, they were on good terms. Thank goodness, otherwise, we'd never have gotten all these great moments on this classic show.
From Comedienne to TV Star
Susie Essman plays Jeff's hot-headed and foul-mouthed wife on this show, Susie Greene. Essman is a stand-up comedian with a number of specials to her name, and has even appeared on the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” When she isn't working on her comedy career or appearing in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Essman does some acting here and there.”
She's now added a number of movie roles and plenty of other TV credits. These include everything from the kids' cartoon “Kim Possible” to police procedural “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
A Therapy Learning Tool
For a lot of us it might be freeing to watch the show's Larry David do all the things we want to do – insult people, ignore social cues, and just generally do whatever, whenever, and for any reason. Therapists, on the other hand, use the show as a powerful tool to help teach people social tools.
They have to be very clear: just don't do what Larry does. He's a proxy, a way to show those who might not know that their behaviors can negatively affect others, So while we are laughing, there are some people watching the show with a pad of paper in hand, writing notes.
Writing Partners Reunite
Due to the fact that the show is unscripted, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” doesn't have any writing credits besides producer or director – the only thing approaching it is “Story by Larry David,” since he writes all of the general outlines.
For the episode that was also a “Seinfeld” reunion, this simple credit was adjusted to “Story by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.” This was a nod to the fact that David and Seinfeld worked together to do a great deal of the writing for “Seinfeld.”
David Holds All the Power
When it comes to showing creators who rule their tiny domains with an iron fist, none of them can even come close to Larry David. If you don't like the way he does things, it's your problem. It took seventeen years to make the first nine seasons – that's just not normal.
The show goes on hiatus whenever he feels like it, and there's nothing anybody can do about it. Fans have to expect the unexpected. The show could end tomorrow, and that's all the warning we'd get.
A Last-Minute Move
In the first season, Davids' house was an empty house in the Los Angeles area. Somehow the house was sold to a real family that wanted to move in, and the show had to adjust on the fly. They played with it by having almost the exact same thing happen to the fictional Davids – getting kicked out of their house and being forced to move.
The production really didn't have much of a choice, but at least they had some warning. Imagine being kicked out of your studio on the day you were supposed to film!
Where Did the Kids Go?
In the very first episode, it's stated that Larry and Cheryl have children, but they are not seen during the episode. In subsequent episodes, it's made clear that the couple does not have any kids. This is the biggest and perhaps the only difference between Larry David's real marriage and his on-screen one (setting aside the fact that his real wife and on-screen wife are different people, of course).
David has gone on record saying that it felt a little more natural for him to not have kids on the show. It also meant the actors and actresses could let loose with all the foul language they wanted.
Nominated for Playing Himself
In the 2018 Emmy Awards, Larry David was nominated for the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category, playing himself. He joins a number of other actors and actresses who have been nominated for playing themselves.
This includes Matt LeBlanc for playing himself on “Episodes” and Michael J. Fox, who played himself in... “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Larry David has actually been nominated more than five times for the award. Maybe one of these days he'll win one.
Not the Best Record
The show is an audience darling, getting millions of viewers per episode. Critics appreciate it as well. Each season ends up with a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score and a high Metacritic ranking...but the show's award history isn't the most stellar.
In fact, the show held a special record when it came to the Primetime Emmy Awards. For all of the shows to never win the Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, it has the record for most nominations in the category. With nine nominations, that's more than half of the seasons without a win. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
Special Guests from “The Office”
For some reason, people who have had roles on the United States version of “The Office” seem to end up in minor roles or on guest spots on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The list of names includes Craig Robinson, Mindy Kaling, Oscar Nunez, Kate Flannery, Andry Buckley, Hugh Dane, and David Koechner.
Respectively, they play Daryl, Kelly, Oscar, Meredith, David Wallace, and Hank and Todd Packer (a pair of brothers). Other than those names being hard-working comedic actors, there doesn't seem to be any reason for them to all gravitate toward working with Larry David. Of course, the show's acclaim and reach are a big part of it, so we bet every actor and actress wants a chance.
The show has collected a huge number of award nominations, ranging from the Primetime Emmy Awards to the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, the Golden Globe Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America, and even the Eddie Awards.
However, the number of wins against nominations is shockingly low. There were two wins for Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series, in 2002 and in 2011. They also won an Emmy for directing in 2003. In 2002 they brought home the Golden Globe for Best Series – Musical or Comedy, and there have been a few Producer of the Year awards, as well as a smattering of others.
Suffering in Syndication
Just like thousands of other television shows, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” made its way to syndication. The show appeared on basic cable beginning on June 2, 2010, on the TV Guide Network. The network had a series of discussions about the show with guest stars, media pundits, and social figures, calling it “Curb: The Discussion.”
Often the discussion would be about the moral implications of the actions depicted in each episode. In September of 2010, it started appearing on local stations and WGN America, but it didn't get great ratings and quickly disappeared. In February of 2013, it debuted on TV Land.
Home Media Releases
As you might expect, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has had home-media releases that allow you to watch the show whenever or wherever you want. The DVD sets include special features such as commentary tracks, humorous featurettes, gag reels, deleted scenes, interviews with members of the cast (as well as people who aren't, such as the “Seinfeld” cast), and more.
The first season (which, remember, began airing in October of 2000) was also released on VHS as a three-volume box set. Not many shows can say they are still going strong in 2020 AND have a season released on VHS.
Even More Enthusiasm
Even if you aren't near a screen, you can find a way to enjoy this off-the-wall show. A “Curb Your Enthusiasm” book was published by Gotham Books on October 19th, 2006. It contains stories, interviews, episode outlines, guides, and over one hundred full-color photographs, spanning the first five seasons of the show.
An unofficial soundtrack was released in 2006, thanks to the fact that a lot of the songs heard while watching the show are classics that aren't hard to license. This includes the opening and closing theme songs and a number of other tunes.
Learning From His Mistakes
When Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David decided to end “Seinfeld,” a lot of people reacted negatively to the final storyline. Larry learned that some shows don't need real endings, so when people start to request a new season, he just comes out and creates another one. He's said that he isn't much of a “misser” – someone that misses things.
But, he found that after enough time he starts to miss creating the show and working with his friends, so he'll start working on another season. He gets pretty tired of people asking him if the show will be coming back but doesn't like to say it isn't.
Plenty of Stars in This Show
It should come as no surprise that there have been plenty of guest stars on the show, both as themselves and in fictional roles. This includes famous actors, directors, singers, comedians, athletes, and more. Hugh Hefner, Shaquille O'Neal, Lucy Lawless, Meg Ryan, Michael J. Fox, Salman Rushdie, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jon Hamm, and Mila Kunis have all been on the show.
These actors have all played themselves. A number of “special guests” made numerous appearances, including Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, members of the “Seinfeld” cast, and even Mel Brooks. As the show has progressed, it has had no trouble attracting stars.
Hey, That's Not Los Angeles
After a long hiatus, the show returned in 2017, and one of the episodes had a surprise for viewers who lived in other countries. The crew had to resort to stock footage for a scene involving an LA furniture shop. They tried out footage from LA, London, and even Edinburgh, but they settled on an exterior shot of a shopping center in Cardiff called The Hayes.
Apparently, the crew thought that it looked more like Los Angeles than Los Angeles itself. Also, the reason they couldn't get a good shot of the exterior of the furniture store was because their own trucks were in the way.
Larry David is a Schlemiel
Traditional Yiddish folklore contains a character often called a “schlemiel,” whose comic actions inevitably lead to his or her downfall. However, the character is also resistant to social and cultural values and norms, usually due to misunderstandings.
While Larry David is always presented as the loser when it comes to his social mistakes, he also gets people to think deeper about the status quo and encourages them to ponder the things we do when we're in public. David, being Jewish, likely knew about this kind of character, and thus it's likely he intended for viewers to take those lessons away from the show.
A Complex Character
One of the best reasons why the show is so well-liked is that the characters, while usually pretty despicable, are three-dimensional. Larry David, particularly, is socially awkward and unwilling to bend to other people's expectations, but he is generally well-intentioned, and even sometimes just a victim of circumstances or the other characters.
Sometimes he is even celebrated by pointing out hypocrisy or stupidity in others. It's easy to make fun of David for his behavior, and he is often the bad guy in the episodes, but he isn't JUST the bad guy, even if it would be quite easy to think so.
He's an Inspiration
In one of the strangest celebrity friendships out there, Larry David is friends with Australian singer Lorde, thanks to his daughter, Cazzie, knowing her. Once, Lorde was in David's vacation home in Martha's Vineyard swimming, and ended up getting inspiration for a song.
That song was “Solar Power,” a comeback single that furthered Lorde's career. Lorde has said that the vacation home helped create the track, calling it a “natural, joyful extension of an awesome day.” Lorde didn't just take inspiration from the home, however – she also sampled screaming cicadas. It's the perfect summer song.