I haven’t been able to shake how unfunny this season’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with Jon Hamm was. In it, Hamm played himself as he was researching a role based on Larry David. As the episode progressed, Hamm spent more time with Larry and started mimicking his phrases and mannerisms. It wasn’t funny. I’ve wanted to write about this episode without making a negative, snarky, mean, or even critical post. So here it goes.
I don’t think the episode fell flat solely because of Hamm, who might not be funny but certainly has the potential to be an interesting character actor with the right roles and directors. He was a real treat nearly playing two characters in Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale, which is saying a lot considering the cast also included such greats as Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, and Cynthia Erivo. I think the episode failed because it pointed out that impersonation in itself is not funny. Impersonation is funny when it reveals something about the person being impersonated as well as the person performing the impersonation.
There was a brilliant and hilarious episode of the short-lived Showtime series Dice where Adrien Brody played a version of himself researching Andrew Dice Clay for a role in a play. Dice, a well-meaning but excessively confident jerk on the show, is flattered and unsurprised when Brody tells him that he “defines masculinity”. Brody, who is written and plays himself as first nervous and earnest, gradually becomes Dice in voice, manner, and attitude to the point that he out-dices Dices at an open mic. The tables turn so that the once almighty Dice is threatened by the once insecure Brody. The episode is over the top and ridiculous and reveals more about these men’s screen personas than what David and Hamm did in this season’s Curb episode. Impersonation for impersonation’s sake is not funny. It has be revelatory to be humorous. Anyway, watch Dice. It’s underrated.