What Woody Allen does in movies, Larry David portrays on television. Both are chronic sadder-than- sad-sack whiners who turn losing - especially losing very, very badly, to an utterly humiliating level - into a winning art form.
The difference is that while Allen often appears as though he is bumping into stuff like a klutzy fuddy-duddy, David looks like he is half-grinning smugly throughout as if he is proud of the line he has just improvised. You see this in spades in HBO's telemovie Clear History, the funniest show I have seen on TV this year.
Critics in America have branded it as an over- glorified extended episode of David's former improvisational sitcom, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
I have to admit this: I did not see a lot of that series, so my enthusiasm was not curbed for this one-off show.
Plus, since David was also the co-creator of my absolute fave sitcom, Seinfeld, I have been longing for a return to form. The result is whiny, behaviour so eccentric and trivial, so hilariously mundane, you can hear even the wheels here complain about being wheels whining on and on.
As some marketing guy with a Walter Mitty-style loser name of Nathan Flomm, David plays the ultimate kind of loser in America - the almost-billionaire.
Just before his start-up venture of the ugliest car in America goes Apple-style mega successful, he unloads all his shares on his business partner, Will Haney (Jon Hamm playing a ham, spoofing his slick Don Draper character in Mad Men), because he hates the name "the Howard" for a car and nobody picks up his novel idea of the "pee flap", a urinal tube attached to the crotch for long car trips.
"Where would it (the urine) go?" somebody asks, "There'll be p*** all over the road."