Hordes of people moved through the lobby of the 92nd Street Y last night asking, “Anybody got an extra ticket?” They were there for a screening of the eighth season premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm that included a panel discussion with the cast. The Observer contemplated the $100.00 someone was offering then thought it wasn’t worth it.
The zeal at last night’s event is usually reserved for championship basketball games or stadium rock concerts. A board of trustees member actually introduced the night by saying “several weeks ago we had Bono and The Edge here. Tonight, we topped it.” To which the room exploded into rapturous applause. In fact, every time there was a change in the room’s lighting, the audience gleefully cheered.
As for the episode, The Observer was sworn to secrecy. All we can say is that with a live audience, never has Curb Your Enthusiasm more resembled Seinfeld.
When the show ended, the night’s MC, NBC news anchor Brian Williams, walked out from behind a curtain. Above the stage were the words, “DAVID MOSES ISAIAH.”
“Good evening and welcome to ‘Let’s Find a Catholic to Moderate,’” Mr. Williams said in his best anchorman voice. “I’m Brian Williams and I’m the house goy.”
Suzy Essman, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin and Larry David—dressed exactly how he is in every episode—all took a seat on the stage. Mr. David was fairly quiet, a little shy; the panel quickly turned into a therapy session, an attempt at getting Mr. David to project.
“Are you a narcissist?” Mr. Williams asked him evenly.
“I really didn’t know we were going in this direction,” Mr. David said coyly, but only half-joking.
“I don’t think you are clinically a narcissist,” Ms. Essman said.
“Right,” added Ms. Hines. “You’re just preoccupied with the world right around you,” and here she made a circular motion with her hands.
They debated this for some time as Mr. David sat in silence.
Finally he ceded: “If the character’s a narcissist, then I’m a narcissist.”
“But he cares for the little guy!” said Ms. Essman. “The underdog.”
“Yeah he brought food to the limo driver,” sad Mr. Garlin, referencing an old episode.
“Right! Yes!” Mr. David pointed to Mr. Garlin in solidarity.
Mr. Williams twirled his glasses with his hand with a face of stone, like some unapologetic psychoanalyst.
Before he could ask Mr. David what his relationship with his father was like, it was time for questions from the audience.
Mr. Williams read from a white card: “What advice do you have for people trying to push boundaries in the media industry?”
“The media industry can go fuck themselves!” Mr. Garlin interjected quickly, then paused. “Except for Brian Williams. Everyone is swimming in their shit and you’re in the tower above them watching everyone swim in their shit! Our trusted news source!”
Mr. Williams asked Mr. David where he gets his material.
“I get a lot of it from dinner parties,” he said, “Where there’s a lot of social interaction and awkwardness and faux pas. Just when people get together like that, it’s fraught with interaction. Social intercourse.” Mr. Garlin recalled a time when Mr. David got out of one of these interactions by saying, “I have nothing more to contribute” and walking away. He grew animated, using his hands to express frustration. “I know you gotta get out of your house, and you go, but as soon as you walk into the door you think: ‘Oh my God it’s death.’” The audience laughed so loud and it was difficult to hear Mr. David continue by saying, “How am I gonna get out of this conversation?”