‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ – ‘The Bi-Sexual’: Juicing the game

A quick review of last night’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” coming up just as soon as I secure the bags…

Because “Curb” is a show so defined by its structure, I sometimes find myself writing that an episode was very funny in spots but didn’t work as a whole because the structure wasn’t quite right. (Case in point: last week’s Larry/Gervais obnoxious-off.) “The Bi-Sexual” was the opposite of that. Aside from weirdly ending with Larry being forced to have lunch with Duckstein rather than the scene before it, this was a very, very well-constructed episode. The competition with Rosie O’Donnell, the baseball metaphor laid on top of that, and then the ongoing argument with the Japanese restaurant manager(**) all came together beautifully in that moment on the steps of the Hall of Fame, where Larry was barred entry because he had cheated the game.

(*) It’s so rare to see a character on this show take such an immediate and understandable dislike to Larry the way that guy did. Usually, it takes people a while to recognize just what a boor he can be, and/or the rules of polite society force them to endure it longer. But this guy, while pretending to appease Larry, couldn’t have been more blatant in his disdain, even without the “shit bow.”

And yet despite that structure, and despite a fine guest cast roster that included O’Donnell, Amy Landecker as Jane, original “SNL” writer Alan Zweibel as Duckstein and Alan Muraoka from “Sesame Street” as the helpful tourist(**), the only parts of the episode where I laughed out loud were the ones involving Leon. Credit to David and the other “Curb” writers for recognizing that they couldn’t leave J.B. Smoove behind for an entire half-season, and their conversation about bats, balls and gloves was hysterical (Larry: “Too bad I don’t have a daughter; I would like to impart that knowledge to her”), but for whatever reason, the rest of the episode made me appreciate how well it was put together without seeming incredibly funny.

(**) This was an episode loaded with “Louie” touches. Landecker played two memorable roles (Louie’s date in “Bully” and his mom in the Jesus flashback) in that show’s first season, Muraoka was on the most recent episode, and Larry and Jeff discuss the Cooperstown date while walking along the High Line, which is where Louie despaired about the meaning of life in “Bummer/Blueberries.” And, of course, both “Louie” and “Curb” have used Ricky Gervais to great effect. At what point will Louie and Larry share a screen together?

Comedy is, of course, subjective, so what did everybody else think?