Donald Trump

A ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm' for Our Turbulent Times

Larry David's comedy series returns to HBO Sunday amid a period that’s ripe for pretty, pretty, pretty, bad behavior

When then-presidential-wannabe Donald Trump hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2015, Larry David heckled the opening monologue from off-stage.

"You're a racist! Trump’s a racist!” David yelled during the scripted bit, apparently inspired by protesters' offer of a $5,000 reward for the call-out.

Trump laughed off the interruption by the liberal “Seinfeld” co-creator and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star, though these days the president heckles entertainers, athletes and others, via Twitter.

We’ll soon see whether he has anything to say about David, whose show returns to HBO Sunday for a ninth season, following a six-year hiatus. The comeback arrives at a time that's ripe for pretty, pretty, pretty bad behavior.

David helped spur the current politically fueled renaissance of "SNL" with his recurring role as his doppelgänger, Bernie Sanders, during the seemingly endless presidential campaign. But the Larry David of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” might have more in common with Trump.

Both are New York-reared septuagenarians who say what they think, sans filter.

Both are inveterate name-callers ("Crooked Hillary" and "Rocket Man" are among Trump's most infamous insults, while David saves his profane ire for cab-stealing “upstreamers” and grating practitioners of the stop-and-chat).

Both defy decency when dealing with other people’s physical abilities (Trump mocked a reporter with congenital condition, while David clashed with Michael J. Fox in the most recent episode of "Curb").

Both turn petty slights into major confrontation (too many to name).

And let's not forget their shared tie to Steve Bannon, who reportedly made money from the lucrative "Seinfeld" syndication deal.

But there's a crucial difference between Trump and David that transcends politics: One is a blustery former TV character occupying the free world’s highest office, and the other just plays a misanthrope on TV.

David brings his anti-social exaggerated version of himself back to "Curb" as a majority of Americans agree the nation is being led by an unpresidential president. The comedian, who once compared the prospect of a Trump election victory to “contemplating your own death,” recently told USA Today he’s “horrified” by any suggestion that his irreverent character somehow paved the way for acceptance of the president’s coarse rhetoric.

As he showed on "SNL," David always speaks his mind – a quality whose value lies with the beholder. While the "Seinfeld" rules of "no hugging, no learning" carried over to "Curb," the comedies share another key trait: Bad behavior eventually backfires on the main characters. 

That's something to cling to, like really good Palestinian chicken, while waiting for last laughs.

Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

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