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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: "Mister Softee"

Those of us wondering what Larry David’s youth was like were given a rare glimpse of his childhood on this week’s Curb, which involved a traumatic incident in Larry’s past causing him to frustrate SNL alums Robert Smigel and Ana Gasteyer.

Still in New York, Larry David spends this episode haunted by an adolescent exploration of sexuality gone wrong, in which he was disrobing in the back of a Mister Softee ice cream truck with the daughter of an ice cream man. The girl’s father catches his daughter with a naked Larry David, who rushes out of the van, only to be laughed at for his nudity by a throng of his peers and neighbors. From what I can recall, this flashback to Larry’s youth is the only time we’ve seen him as a kid on Curb, making it a rare move for the show but one that was necessary to set up the night’s plotline.

Larry encounters the music of the Mister Softee truck so often that it almost seems as if ice cream men are stalking him. Each time, the ice cream truck jingle causes him hardship by reopening old wounds and distracting him from whatever he’s doing. The presence of a Mister Softee truck causes him to miss a ground ball that goes right through his legs during a championship softball game, making him the target of much derision from his coach, Yari (played by Robert Smigel). Smigel was Conan O’Brien’s original head writer and the auteur behind SNL's TV Funhouse, but he’s best known for voicing (and puppeting) Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Late Night. He seems to be using a similar accent as softball coach/mechanic Yari. Smigel has largely worked behind the scenes throughout his career, but he has stepped in front of the camera on occasion. He’ll next be seen in Judd Apatow’s next directorial effort, tentatively titled This is Forty, which is due for release next summer.

A passing Mister Softee truck also causes Larry David trouble in the bedroom. He hears the music while in the act with a new love interest (played by Ana Gasteyer), which leads him to have erectile difficulties. Gasteyer’s character isn’t the only one displeased with the way Larry reacts to the Mister Softee truck. Yari, who’s doubling as Larry’s mechanic, is so upset by Larry’s softball mistake that he refuses to fix his wobbly passenger seat. Larry takes Ana Gasteyer out on a date, desperate to make up for his impotence; but, after a ride on his vibrating car seat, she’s had her needs met and asks to be taken home.

“Mister Softee” concludes with Larry David running into disgraced former Red Sox player Bill Buckner, who has a moment echoing his 1986 World Series flub when he fails to catch a ball autographed by another ex-MLB-er. Buckner does, however, redeem himself in the episode’s conclusion when he catches a baby thrown from an apartment window during a fire. Between “Mister Softee” and the Rosie O’Donnell episode two weeks ago, this has been a baseball-heavy year for Curb. The show’ll be rounding out its home stretch next week’s season finale with an episode featuring special guest star Michael J. Fox.

Bradford Evans is a wondering if they had to clear that discussion about George Lucas's fondness for prostitutes with the Star Wars man himself.