Home>Feature>The O’Toole Chronicles: The Lessons of Larry David

Larry David. Photo by Daniel Sempértegui.

The O’Toole Chronicles: The Lessons of Larry David

By Kevin O'Toole, December 15 2020 12:01 am

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I took the opportunity to watch some television (Amazon, Hulu and Netflix all come under the rubric of TV) with my kids. My daughter, Ryan Marie, insisted on watching virtually every single episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm – I know some find Larry David funny and others find him utterly annoyingly.

For those who have never heard of Larry David – he is the creator and writer of the Seinfeld series. He then went to write, produce and act in a series (Curb Your Enthusiasm) which reportedly mimics his own life.

This comedy isn’t for everyone, but those who watch him usually find time to become devotees of his not so subtle manner and lifestyle.

In the show, Larry goes about his day essentially as himself, interacting with his Los Angles crowd and saying just about whatever is on his mind. As I watched the last few episodes I wondered if politics would be made simpler if people just said what was on their mind or expressed themselves as they really wanted to?

For instance, like Larry would do, wouldn’t it be interesting if after a huge speech the staffers turned to the boss and said:

– You didn’t quite hit it out of the park;

– Way too long;

– You stole too many ideas from your rivals;
– Didn’t do anything for me;
– That combover is ridiculous;
– You phony, you don’t mean a word of it; or
– Where was the rest of the speech?

As I have maintained, since my days as a staffer, the working folks of a political apparatus are the ones who truly know how the sausage is made and are the ones who have the pulse of what is real or not. Too often the overstuffed opinion of overly confident elected officials offer a detached version of the world, and the rest of the world is too polite or trained not to tell politicians how it really is – in Larry David speak.

The reality is we hold ourselves as more refined than the characters found on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But wouldn’t it be cool to state your mind as you wanted. To come and go to events or parties as you really desired – as opposed to be obligated. If so, a State of the State or Budget Address (Presidential, gubernatorial, county executive or mayor) might have a longer line of people wanting to attend.

The positive employment of the Larry David speak is obvious.

Where appropriate, wouldn’t it be neat to tell the political boss that the work environment is strikingly oppressive and violates half a dozen state and federal statutes? Wouldn’t it be a better place if the bosses heard some admonishment about lack of leadership, lack of direction and weak on purpose? Wouldn’t it serve a common good if staffers could give honest advice and feedback on contemplated moves, political quarrels and strategy? Wouldn’t it be a different world if we allowed staff or the public to say exactly what is on their minds?

It would be funny for some, horrifying for others, but the world of politics wouldn’t be as much of the kabuki theatre that it is now. Just a straight-forward exchange of what is seen, felt and needed. I doubt that we will ever evolve (or devolve) to the Larry David standard.

But wouldn’t it be nice?

Ps- The O’Toole Scrivo Project Food Bank has now hit 65K in donations as we have now added contributions in the following towns: New Brunswick, New York City, Boston and Manchester, New Hampshire.

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