Curb Your Enthusiasm (which is available for streaming on HBO Now) has always been a vehicle for show-creator Larry David to star as a version of himself that is a bit less beholden to social constructs and modern decency. David is living his truest self when he’s on camera, essentially, but to pull it off, the show has had to fill the Curb show world with celebrity cameos that have served as an opportunity for other famous folks to play around with their image a little. And because that has been such an enjoyable thing to see, here’s a look at 10 of the best celebrity cameos in Curb Your Enthusiasm history.
John McEnroe, ‘The Freak Book’
When Larry hired a limo to take him to Ted Danson’s birthday party, the driver ended up getting hammered and Larry ended up with the limo in his possession after having to drop the driver off at his house. The next day, the driver needed Larry to do him one more solid. “Can you pick up a client for me at the airport?” Larry reluctantly agreed, and the client ended up being McEnroe. The two of them ended up at a Paul McCartney concert, and while backstage with a room full of people, including McCartney’s wife at the time, Heather Mills, they managed to accidentally offend the entire party while perusing The Freak Book. “Who are you calling a freak, you bald f*ck?”
Rosie O’Donnell, ‘Denise Handicap’
O’Donnell made cameo appearances in three different episodes of Curb, but none were more memorable than in season seven’s ‘Denise Handicap.’
In the episode, Larry asked Rosie to lunch, which by standard social rules, would imply that he would pick up the check afterwards. But O’Donnell was having none of that. Things then got physical, with Rosie beating Larry up in a crowded restaurant. At least, that’s what she would tell everyone, anyway.
Shaquille O’Neal, ‘Shaq’
After Larry accidentally trips Shaq while sitting in courtside seats at a Lakers game, the entire city was out for Larry’s blood when Shaq was thought to have a serious knee injury. However, Larry got in O’Neal’s good graces at the hospital after finding out that he’s a huge Seinfeld fan and showed up with tape recordings of every episode. This was obviously pre-streaming.
Hugh Hefner, ‘The Smoking Jacket’
When Larry got invited to the Playboy mansion, he noticed that Hefner was wearing a smoking jacket that was exactly like one his father had. Hef thought that was impossible, because his jacket was one of a kind. Nevertheless, Hef wished to see it, and when Larry showed it to him, Hef calmly walked into a bathroom with it and switched it. Personally, I think it’s a better story to have Hef’s smoking jacket rather than your own dad’s. Then again, it’s impossible to know where that thing has been.
Alanis Morissette, ‘The Terrorist Attack’
2002 was a crazy time. One year after 9/11, people were still a bit on edge about the possibility of further attacks on the United States. Here, Larry received what he thought was good insider info about a pending attack on Los Angeles. He was instructed to keep it on the down low, however, for fear that he’d cause panic in the streets. But alas, he could not keep the secret very long, mass hysteria ensued, and it caused the momentary cancellation of a private concert from Alanis Morissette. Morissette has historically had less trouble keeping a very big personal secret of her own. For some reason, though, she trusted Larry with this info, and he could not wait to share it.
Lucy Lawless, ‘The TiVo Guy’
After Cheryl left Larry because he blew her off during a frantic phone call (she lost to the TiVo guy, incredibly), Larry spent only one day single. And rather spectacularly, he scored a date with none other than Lucy Lawless. After taking her to an upscale restaurant, Lawless was somehow completely smitten with him. After all, he’s Jewish, which is exotic where she comes from in New Zealand. Larry ended up screwing it up by mentioning his long balls, but for a very brief moment, he seemed to be in with Xena, the warrior princess.
Ricky Gervais, ‘The Hero’
Larry spent an entire episode scolding Gervais for several social faux pas’, including taking advantage of Susie and Jeff at a restaurant for ordering up on an expensive bottle of wine, as well as being suspicious that he was hitting on his girlfriend. Of course, those suspicions would later prove correct. Also, that scarf. My goodness, look at that scarf.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘The Wire’
Over the course of CYE’s eight seasons, each main character from Seinfeld made several appearances. The second season’s story arc was supposed to be a new television project between Larry David with Jason Alexander, but that quickly fell through. Then the seventh season revolved around the Seinfeld reunion. But the greatest Seinfeld-related cameo was definitely Louis-Dreyfus in season two, when Larry brought her to a neighbor’s house because the neighbor was a big fan, albeit a creepy one, and Larry needed his signature in order to bury an electrical wire.
Bill Buckner, ‘The Surrogate’
Shortly after Larry cost his softball team the championship by letting a ball go through his legs, a la Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series, Larry ended up meeting and befriending Buckner at an autograph-signing, where he would get advice on how to handle the vitriol received after making a crucial error in a championship game. In the final scene, Buckner finally made amends with the world by catching a baby from a burning building.
Michael J. Fox, ‘Larry vs. Michael J. Fox’
If we never get another season of Curb (although one person believes there’s a 51 percent chance), they certainly went out with a bang. In the eighth season finale, Larry butted heads with Michael J. Fox, where Fox faced his real-life Parkinson’s condition head-on. How can Larry win a personal battle with a beloved actor who has a debilitating condition? Well, he can’t. And he didn’t.
“I’ll be back in two shakes” remains one of the greatest line reads of all time.