A Tribute to Comic Shelley Berman, Larry David’s TV Dad

This past Friday we learned of the saddening news of the passing of Shelley Berman, at the age of 92. A legendary comedian who dominated the 1960s, Berman won the very first Grammy award for spoken comedy in 1959, among many other accolades and awards.

Many will credit Berman with having paved the way for modern stand-up comedy, specifically by popularizing the comedic style observational comedy, which poked fun at the subtle yet common occurrences of regular everyday people.

On Curb Your Enthusiasm, Berman played the role of Larry David’s father, Nat. Although IMDb credits him with having appeared in only 13 of the 80 episodes between seasons 1 and 8, Berman undeniably made his presence known, and became a beloved fan favorite.

For the most part, Nat understood or sympathized with his Larry’s bizarre quirks and unwritten rules of conduct. The bond between father and son was truly special, and Shelley Berman/Nat David will surely be missed.

This week’s 9 Weeks of Curb (week 6) is dedicated to Papa David, and his most memorable moments on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Look at This Shmohawk!

Season 6 Ep. 6 — The Rat Dog

“Shmohawk” emerges from “shmuck,” which describes someone who is stupid, obnoxious, or foolish. It’s the term that Nat taught Larry to describe terrible drivers. A running gag throughout the series, Larry constantly uses his dad’s insult-of-choice while on the road.

-MS

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It’s $50 a Letter!

Season 7, Ep. 7 — The Black Swan

What I love about this show is that the characters never contain or hide their true thoughts. Larry goes with his cousin Andy and Nat to visit his mother’s burial site. LD immediately notices that there is a typo on the headstone. His father decided to have the stonemason carve out “past” away instead of “passed” away, since the headstone cost $50 per letter. It’s very strange how we find humor in this rather sad situation, but it’s truly a hilarious debate.

-JD

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Nat Gets High

Season 4, Ep. 6 — The Carpool Lane

Nat has Glaucoma, an eye condition which can be alleviated by the use of medical/recreational marijuana. Larry sets out to score some bud for his father, and when he eventually brings the weed to Nat, the scene is pure magic.

You’ll have to watch the episode to see how LD and Nat wind up with an escort named Monena, but the exchange between Nat and Monena while under the influence is indisputably a top 10 scene in the whole series.

-MS

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Please Leave the Toilet Seat Down

Season 4, Ep. 4 — The Weatherman

Some secrets are better left untold. Larry is sitting down with Nat, chatting away, and Larry eventually asks him if he could keep the seat down during his next visit to the bathroom. His dad thinks it’s for his wife, Cheryl, but Larry takes a firm stance and indicates that he sits down whenever he goes to the bathroom. Shelley is a bit perplexed by this confession, and I think you can imagine the short, but pointed discussion that ensues.

Unfortunately we don’t have a link to this clip, so you’ll have to watch the season 4 episode “The Weatherman,” which we’d both argue is an all-time great Curb episode.

-JD

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Mom Died and You Didn’t Tell Me?

Season 3, Ep. 6 — The Special Section

An instance where Nat’s concern and love for his son perhaps goes too far, LD learns of his mother’s death after the funeral... like waaaaay after.

Nat’s reason for not telling Larry — “she didn’t want me to bother you.” It’s here we learn that even the loving embrace of a family member can cause problems for our main character.

-MS

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The Larry David Sandwich

Season 5, Ep. 1 — The Larry David Sandwich

We bring this up every week, don’t we?

Just seeing Shelley’s smile is all you really need. Larry takes his dad to a local LA deli because they recently debuted the “Larry David” sandwich. He could not possibly be more proud of his son, and his smile goes from one ear to the next.

Unfortunately, this is rather short lived because Shelley ends up choking on the sandwich and has to be brought to the hospital. Nevertheless, he still remains so proud.

-JD

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Bingo! Bingooooo!

Season 5, Ep. 4 — Kamikaze Bingo

Larry goes to Nat’s retirement home to play some Bingo. As expected, the out-of-place Larry quickly makes enemies with the home’s elderly. What makes this scene so ridiculous is how fervent Larry (a multi-millionaire) is in establishing that he won the dollar in bingo. His suspicions lead him to believe that a conspiracy was plotted to prevent him from ever winning.

-MS

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I’m Adopted?

Season 5, Ep. 1 — The Larry David Sandwich

Following Shelley’s aforementioned trip from the deli to the hospital, LD is sitting by his dad’s side. Nat signals to Larry to lean in closer, so as to tell him something. It’s tough to make out, but Larry believes Nat says “you’re adopted.” He doesn’t have the strength to repeat himself, so Larry becomes a bit perplexed.

-JD

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Lovely Lisa

Season 6, Ep. 6 — The Rat Dog

Nat falls head-over-heels in love with a much younger masseuse named Lisa, and sets out to win her over by buying her a new toaster.

-MS

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Next week (September 10th): Week 7—9 Celebrities Who Appeared on Curb Before They Were Famous

Other installments:

Week 1 — 9 Executive Orders Under a Larry David Presidency

Week 2 — 9 Most Absurd and Very Best Curb Arguments

Week 3 — 9 Best Curb Your Enthusiasm Celebrity Cameos

Week 4 — Are You Sure? — The 9 Best Larry David Stare-Downs

Week 5 — 9 Insane Moments that Are Honestly Too Insane for Curb Your Enthusiasm

Week 7 — COMING SOON (September 17, 2017)

Week 8 — COMING SOON (September 24, 2017)

Week 9 — COMING SOON (October 1, 2017)