Jesus and Urinating Don't Mix: Catholics Curb Their Enthusiasm for Larry David


The latest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm was hilarious on many fronts, especially since I can relate to one of the controversial scenes involving an accident with Jesus, (who I like to call, "the J-Man.") While the show was great, the reaction of some non-Jews to that scene, is not. 

In the episode, Larry is on medication which makes him urinate forcefully.  It's so powerful that while going to the bathroom at his assistant's house, he accidentally splashes some on a picture of the J-Man hanging on the wall.  This, in and of itself is hilarious because: a) the shocking and embarrassing nature of this type of accident, and b) what is a picture of the J-Man doing, hanging in the bathroom?  A picture of the J-Man in the bathroom would make any Jew (and even many non-Jews), uncomfortable.

Back when I lived in NYC, I was moving into a new place and my new roommate had the crucifix hanging near the door.  Seeing an idol of a dead man hanging on a cross immediately made me uncomfortable (as it always has), and as I was moving in, my mattress accidentally knocked the crucifix off the wall and broke both the J-Man's arms in half, which then just dangled and swung there.  I wasn't sure what to do or how to broach the subject with my new roommate, so I sort of rigged the cross so that it appeared "fixed" for the time being.  That was the first day at my new apartment!  (Later, I did speak to my roommate about it, and he understood.  We had a good laugh.)

Back to last week's Curb, after Larry's incident in the bathroom, Larry saw that he had accidentally splashed the J Man with urine, and it seemed he didn't want to make the matter worse by trying to smudge it off, so he left it.  His assistant then went into the bathroom, sees the picture, and concludes that the J-Man is crying. Then she summons her mother and the two think they witnessed a miracle, and fall to their knees in prayer. 

This scene prompted Bill Donohue of the Catholic League to officially respond:

Was Larry David always this crude? Would he think it comedic if someone urinated on a picture of his mother? This might be fun to watch, but since HBO only likes to dump on Catholics (it was just a couple of weeks ago that Sarah Silverman insulted Catholics on “Real Time with Bill Maher”), and David is Jewish, we’ll never know. 
First of all, how does Donohue know the characters in the show were Catholic?  I don't remember the episode ever specifying Larry's assistant's denomination.  Secondly, Donohue thinks it might be fun to watch someone urinating on Larry David's mother?  That's sick!  Thirdly, again, it was an accident It's not like Larry David chose to urinate on a picture of the J-Man.  Does Donohue and the Catholic League believe that accidents never happen?  Do they not think that some unfortunate situations that happen like this in life might be funny?  Lastly, what does Larry's religion have anything to do with it? Why is Donohue using this comedy bit about an unfortunate accident to stir up Jew hatred?   

Again, it's called comedy resulting from an embarrassing accident.  Larry David and HBO probably make more fun of Judaism than any other religion.  You don't see prominent Jews writing press releases about it.  This Donohue character and the Catholic League need to get a grip.  So does Newsbusters for calling this scene "disgraceful."  Newsbusters also highlighted a comment which claimed that Curb wouldn't do anything like this against Islam.  However, in the "The Blind Date" episode there were similar bathroom and religious themes.  Larry was desperate to use the bathroom, and went door-to-door in a well-to-do neighborhood, asking strangers he if could use theirs. Finally, a Muslim woman wearing a burka lets Larry in, and Larry decides to fix her up with Michael, his blind friend.

Also, in the classic "Survivor" episode, some could claim that Larry makes pokes fun at Hasidic Jews as he thinks they have sex through a hole in a sheet (a false myth.)  In that same episode, people could claim that Larry David was trivializing the Holocaust by comparing Holocaust survivors to contestants on the show "Survivor."

Ultimately, Larry David is a comedian.  Comedians find comedy in everything.  If you don't think it's funny, don't watch.  Despite the fact that I'm probably at odds with Larry David politically, I find him to be a comedic genius.  Even my favorite director, the Italian-Catholic Martin Scorsese, seems to appreciate Larry David (as he has appeared in episodes of Curb.)  Prior to becoming a director, Scorsese wanted to be a Catholic priest.  I'd put good money on it that Scorsese wasn't offended by the scene in question.

If you don't appreciate good humor, there's plenty of stupid stuff you can watch.  Despite how this one controversial scene might appear when taken out of context, it made important points about non-Jewish religious fanaticism in America.  Donohue and the Catholic league help exemplify the point.

And again, if you don't want the things that you hold sacred to accidentally get urine on them, DON'T DECORATE YOUR BATHROOM WITH THEM!

Not that a painting of the J-Man is necessarily, "sacred" or "Holy," but according to Jewish Law, there is a prohibition to have a holy objects (like tefillin or a mezuzzah) in or near a bathroom.  Perhaps beneath the comedy and controversy, Larry David was also trying to make deeper points about Jewish laws and customs and how they contrast to the non-Jewish world.  -d

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