We have been waiting a long time for Larry David to come back to HBO with another edition of his smash hit Curb Your Enthusiasm, and our patience will soon be rewarded, when the show returns after a six-year hiatus this fall. Though David’s brand of cringe comedy appears relatively simple to create — put a person who can’t stop talking into a socially awkward situation — many have tried (and most have failed) to emulate the formula.
Which is why it’s such a delightful surprise to see Andrea Savage, best known (by me at least) as President Montez on HBO’s Veep, doing great justice to the form on her new TruTV half-hour I’m Sorry.
Savage plays a fictionalized version of herself, a comedian, wife and mother living in Los Angeles, who has a very Curb-ish tendency to talk herself into a hole and then keep digging. But there is a key difference between Savage’s approach and David’s: Where Larry is grumpy and dyspeptic most of the time, and most of his problems are driven by his antisocial attitude and inability to ignore perceived slights, Andrea is good-humored and open and funny, constantly joking around with her endlessly patient husband (Tom Everett Scott) and her comedy partner (Jason Mantzoukas), and her troubles spring from her sometimes ill-conceived or poorly timed efforts to crack wise, and her curiosity about what other people are up to.
In the first episode (the only one I have seen so far), for example, Andrea learns that one of the other moms in her daughter’s pre-school group is a former porn star. Andrea makes a few jokes about this, but is not judgmental about it. But when the porn-mom is outed, Andrea tries to figure out who did the outing, which leads to a lot of trouble (the funny kind) at a pre-schooler’s birthday party. What she lacks in tact or discretion, she more than makes up for with good intentions and a winning attitude, and Savage is funny and charming throughout.
Savage takes another page from Larry David’s book by surrounding herself with comedic ringers. Scott, as her husband, has clearly accepted that he is not “the funny one” in the relationship, but gets off enough good volleys to make it believable that she would be with him in the first place; Mantzoukas makes a meal of the obnoxious manchild best friend role; Judy Greer (Arrested Development, Archer) is reliably funny as a fellow mom from the preschool; and Judith Light, in what looks like a cameo but could develop into a more regular nemesis role, plays against type as a very aggressive classmate at Andrea’s senior-yoga class.
One episode is a small sample size, but in most cases comedies only get funnier as they go on, as the performers grow more comfortable with their characters and the writers learn to play the the performers’ strengths. Based on that, and how many genuine laughs I got out of this pilot, this is one to keep an eye on.
I’m Sorry premieres at 10pm ET Wednesday on truTV; Recent episodes will be available Thursdays on-demand.