Did we like it?
First half was disappointing, second half was much better. So, on the whole, yes.
What was good about it?
• The parts where the two of them partook in full conversation without being irritatingly interrupted by clips – most illuminating was Larry’s explanation of how he writes the shows – he has a fairly full treatment that the characters then broadly improvise around – but with perhaps less improvisation than we might have expected.
• It was refreshing to hear Larry saying how much he enjoyed his fame – that he found it liberating. It jarred beautifully with earlier comments on Celebrity Big Brother from Jodie Marsh and Faria Alam saying they ‘hated’ their notoriety (seemingly without noticing the rather obvious contradiction between those statements and them agreeing to go on Big Brother). Instead, Larry insisted it was great that people seemed to like him.
• Ricky’s story about how, once he’d moved into his 30s, he finally managed to be self-confident enough to, for example, walk into a pub and ask for the TV to be turned down or off – but almost as soon as he reached that point, The Office made him famous so once again he didn’t have the confidence to do things like that because he was afraid people would think he was a big shot.
• Larry’s make up artist fussing over him and saying: “You want chapstick? For chapped lips?” It sounded like a line from Curb or Seinfeld in itself.
• Larry discussing sitcoms where people are saying very witty things but the other characters never laugh and how he thought they lacked essential realism. He kept saying “the friend says” and “the friends don’t laugh.” ‘Friend’ being the operative word, it would seem.
• Ricky being very funny talking about lazy observational comedy.
• For perhaps the first time seeing Ricky Gervais as himself, rather than playing up to a Brentian role. He was relaxed, if a little in awe of Larry, and he came across as a modest, intelligent guy.
What was bad about it?
• It started late because we all had to watch various people we’d never heard of and a few we had walking up a catwalk in front of a largely unimpressed audience in the freak show of a programme beforehand.
• The first half was incredibly frustrating because it was so laden with clips – every moment from Curb or Seinfeld they mentioned was shown on screen, interrupting the flow of the chat to a maddening degree. The clips were brilliant, of course, but at one point we had Ricky saying: “And you said…” and the clip of a couple of words interjected, “And she said…” and another few words from the clip. So his one sentence was interrupted twice. It was ludicrous. It was as if C4 and/or the producers had decided that most people wouldn’t know who Larry David was or what Curb Your Enthusiasm was. But if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be watching, would they? It was classic case of dumbing down and the show was all the worse for it. Having said that, once they finally felt the scene had been properly set they allowed us to earwig a proper conversation in the second half of the show, which improved things dramatically.
• C4 also clearly had huge problems clearing clips for Curb – almost everything they showed was B-Roll or a first take, certainly not taken directly from the finished shows. Looked very poor.
• Although it was fun, we’d have preferred to see the full conversation, almost unedited, which would have been fascinating. As it was, the show was ultimately unfulfilling.