'Curb Your Enthusiasm': 10 Best Episodes for the Uninitiated Viewer (Guest Column)

7:09 AM 9/8/2017

by Jeff Schaffer

Longtime executive producer Jeff Schaffer goes inside some of the HBO comedy's most unforgettable episodes ahead of Larry David's return.

Larry David on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'; Inset: Jeff Schaffer
Larry David on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'; Inset: Jeff Schaffer
HBO; David Livingston/Getty Images

Jeff Schaffer was an executive producer on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm during the series' original run from 2005 to 2011. Now he's back in the role, alongside creator Larry David and star Jeff Garlin, for the ninth season, which returns after a six-year hiatus on Oct. 1. He is one of the few who is in-the-know about what shenanigans Larry will be delivering during the 10 new episodes. 

Curb stars David as an exaggerated version of himself and the new season welcomes back returning series regulars Garlin and his TV wife Susie Essman, JB Smoove as Larry's friend Leon, and former series regular Cheryl Hines, David's ex-TV wife. Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, as well as Richard Lewis, also return as fictional versions of themselves and will be joined by a slew of guest stars, including Lauren Graham, Jimmy Kimmel, Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston.

Here, Schaffer, who also worked with David on Seinfeld, offers his picks for the 10 Curb episodes new viewers must watch — and old viewers should re-watch — before the new season drops. While sharing behind-the-scenes antics, he also provides a teaser for the upcoming season. The episodes below are not arranged by preference, because Schaffer says "that's way too much pressure."

  • The Doll

    Season two, episode seven

    Courtesy of HBO

    This show has so many great scenes — Susie waiting for Jeff and Larry in the driveway: “Get me the head!” But it also has maybe my favorite Curb moment of all time. Larry goes to the bathroom, the door won’t lock. He can’t make it to the toilet and man the door. Then Larry realizes he can hold the door shut if… he pees in the sink. The moment he really considers this is the moment I realized Larry speaks for all of us.

  • Seinfeld

    Season seven, episode 10

    Courtesy of HBO

    This was amazing me for on so many levels. It was so weird and fun to shoot my own Seinfeld reunion. We not only had the cast, but the old crew was also there at the table read scenes.

    We were shooting a scene where TV Larry is watching a rehearsal of Seinfeld. So the actors are in Jerry’s apartment, the multi-cam cameras are “filming” them, and behind that is TV Larry watching and being filmed by our Curb cameras.

    The Seinfeld scene ends, and TV Larry goes to give Jerry and the cast notes. Even though we are still in the Curb scene, my muscle memory kicks in and I start walking up to give notes on the Seinfeld scene too, like we always did when we worked there. [Executive producer] Alec Berg had to grab me by the belt loop to stop me from stepping in and ruining the shot. 

  • The Group

    Season one, episode 10

    “My name is Todd and I’m an incest survivor.” This show is exactly what Curb is all about: Brazen stories that intertwine, leading to a great ending. The comedy geometry here is stellar and Larry pretending to be an incest survivor is exactly the right kind of wrong.

  • Krazee-Eyez Killa

    Season three, episode eight

    Courtesy of HBO

    Probably the all-time best guest star appearance by Chris Williams: “Delicious!”

  • The Anonymous Donor

    Season six, episode two

    Courtesy of HBO

    I picked this show because the scene where Larry has to confront Leon about the stain of "ejac-a-late" is the true beginning of the Larry and Leon dynamic. Once we saw how fantastic Larry and JB Smoove were together, we kept finding ways to team them up. Without "ejac-a-late" there would be no “Get in that ass!” (in "The Lefty Call," a few episodes later).

  • The Hot Towel

    Season seven, episode four

    Courtesy of HBO

    This episode is here because it’s probably one that Larry and I quote more than any other.

    There is nothing funnier to Larry than being scolded by stoic authority. And there is no more stoic authority than Phillip Baker Hall (who plays Larry's physician, a stern Dr. Morrison). The scene where Larry interrupts a quiet night between Dr. Morrison and his wife gets recited by Larry and I probably more than any other: “Don’t speak to Mr. Morrison!” Shooting this scene was maybe one of the hardest I’ve ever seen Larry laugh.

  • The Car Pool Lane

    Season four, episode six

    The brilliant life-hack of hiring a hooker (played by Kym Whitley) to use the diamond lane is reason enough to make this list. But my favorite thing in this episode is a stoned Larry berating himself in the mirror about getting a colonoscopy.

  • Wandering Bear

    Season four, episode eight

    Courtesy of HBO

    “How is your vagina?” A statement as true now as it was then.

  • The Bare Midriff

    Season seven, episode six

    We shot Larry and Jerry in the exact same office they had on Seinfeld. And the dynamic you see in this show is just them being themselves.

    The looks between Larry and Jerry as their bare-midriffed assistant (an amazing Jillian Bell) works on the buzzing ceiling light... That is what it was like to work on Seinfeld.

  • The Survivor

    Season four, episode nine

    Courtesy of HBO

    A Holocaust survivor and Colby from Survivor duke it out. What else can you say? Larry thinks he spent more time editing that scene than any scene in the history of the show. The results speak for themselves.

  • This Year's Season Finale

    Season nine, episode 10

    Courtesy of HBO

    A bonus episode. I can’t tell you anything about it right now. Except that it is one of the most ambitious things we’ve ever tried — and it worked! It is going to be a classic. I can’t wait for you to see it.

  • Honorable Mentions

    Early honorable mentions go to "The Thong" (season two, episode five), "The 5 Wood" (season four, episode 5) and "The Benadryl Brownie" (season three, episode two).

    From the later years:

    "Vehicular Felatio" (season seven, episode two): A heart-warming tale of a man who is about to break up with his live-in girl when she suddenly discovers she has cancer. This show has another of Larry and my favorite scenes, the one where Larry breaks Wayne Federman’s glasses with a hug: “I think you didn’t recognize me... so you gave me an extra hard hug and you broke my glasses.”

    "The Reunion" (season seven, episode three): Larry and Jason Alexander arguing at lunch because Jason won’t show Larry what he’s tipping. This leads to Jerry saying, “A tip is a solo.” A classic, genius Seinfeld line.

    "The Rat Dog" (season six, episode six): Another one that is here because of how often we still laugh about certain lines and rhythms. From, “You pet that dog?” with Tim Meadows to Kevin Farley’s ”We’re gonna get fucked up!” Also, watch the way Kevin’s arms go up and down when he is stomping on the “rat”— it’s like a madman working his body like a bellows. So funny.