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Richard Lewis' Best Curb Your Enthusiasm Episodes

Comedian and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Richard Lewis' death at age 76 has no doubt made many "Curb" fans reminisce about his appearances on the show. Lewis was in 41 episodes of the HBO sitcom, playing a fictionalized version of himself as Larry David's dear friend ... or rather, as "dear" as either man's temperament allows them to admit. Peculiar as this relationship may be, some of the funniest sitcoms in TV history have benefitted from quirky friendships, and while both men would probably balk at the word quirky, it certainly fits their dynamic.   

On the show, Lewis tended to play the straight man to David's curmudgeonly antics and the pair is often at odds. He features in many of the best "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episodes out there, so to pay tribute to his career as a funnyman and the great moments he brought to "Curb Your Enthusiasm," let's take a look at some of his greatest moments on the show.

Season 1, Episode 1 -- The Pants Tent

Though they reconnected in adulthood, Richard Lewis used to hate Larry David before "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and the feeling — which stems from bad experiences at a summer camp when they were young — was extremely mutual. Their particular frenemy brand is immediately obvious when Lewis first enters the show in "The Pants Tent," the show's very first episode after the pilot.  

The fictional Richard makes an entrance that's just about as impactful as one can expect from a sitcom character. He arrives in Larry's office, actively pesters him to end a phone call, eyeballs him for a good few seconds ... and after Larry asks why, he proceeds to summarize both his character and the pair's entire dynamic in one line. "Because I've never been married, and I think I'm in love, and I think you might have ruined this for me," he says, and kicks off the first of the many ornery debates the pair would go on to have over the course of the show. 

Richard's tendency to fall in love and Larry's habit of messing up his life in small ways are instrumental aspects of the character. Perhaps even more importantly, the chemistry between the grouchy Larry and Richard's self-deprecating stylings is on full display from the moment they start taking verbal potshots at each other. In one fell swoop, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" introduces that rarest of sitcom dynamics — a believable, lived-in friendship. They might find each other exasperating, but from this episode to Lewis' final appearance in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Season 12, rarely dull.  

Season 5, Episode 1 -- The Larry David Sandwich

First appearances aside, "The Larry David Sandwich" is probably one of the first things that come to many "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fans' minds when they think of Richard Lewis. The Season 5 opener revolves around the titular sandwich, which Larry's favorite deli has named after him. There are just two problems — Larry utterly hates the sandwich, and Richard is deeply jealous of his friend's honorary comestible. 

There's a lot happening in the episode, but one of the highlight plotlines is Richard's desire to have a similar sandwich-themed honor. He wants this so much that he starts throwing accusations of Jerry of bribing the deli owner ... in a synagogue, no less. Richard's plan is successful, as he ultimately manages to get Larry's signature food item renamed into the Richard Lewis Sandwich, much to Larry's dismay. This gifts the viewers with two very different, but equally amusing banter scenes between the two, with both men in top form.  

Richard's determination to get a signature sandwich is hilarious because the Larry David Sandwich is actually quite a strange snack, with ingredients that range from two different types of fish to cream cheese, onions, and capers. As Larry's mini-bar picks in Season 11 prove, he has quite a palate, and his deep distaste for the signature sandwich makes Richard's ambition to appropriate it doubly more amusing. 

Season 9, Episode 4 -- Running with the Bulls

Richard Lewis is something of a painter on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but if you ask Larry David, his perception leaves a lot to be desired. The Season 9 episode "Running with the Bulls" is a perfect example of the Richard character's obliviousness and how he tends to end up as the butt of Larry's jokes. Even more than that, it shows just how committed to the bit the real Lewis was. Not only was he happy to pose with a clearly overflattering image of himself and be subjected to some pretty brutal barbs, but he also gleefully presented the painting as his own work on X (formerly known as Twitter).

 

In "Running with the Bulls," Larry and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) have a field day when they attend Richard's art exhibition and find his massive self-portrait — which, as they're quick and loud to express, looks very little like the man himself. Adamant that the image is an accurate depiction, Richard stands and takes in the mockery with a stoic expression and a thousand-yard stare, with his passive detachment from reality arguably just as amusing as the lines Larry and Jeff hurl at him.

Season 5, Episode 8 -- The Ski Lift

"The Ski Lift" is a pretty obvious inclusion considering how much it revolves around Richard Lewis. Even by "Curb Your Enthusiasm" standards, the Season 5 episode is a truly wild combination of grim subjects and silly humor, deftly jumping from Richard's pressing health situation to some of the finest below-the-belt comedy in the show's entire run, courtesy of guest star Mo Collins. 

The episode's main theme revolves around Richard's need for a kidney transplant, and Larry's struggle over the fact that his friend knows he's a suitable donor. Larry's increasingly gung-ho attempts to find another donor are amusing enough, but the whole plot is jump-started by a meeting between the pair, during which Richard bothers to sweet-talk Larry for roughly two lines before he cracks and starts demanding a kidney. Larry spends the rest of the episode tracking down various ways to supply a new kidney to his friend, motivated both by a genuine wish to help and a great desire to keep to his own internal organs. 

It's worth noting that Richard spends the entire episode bedridden. He acts as the desperate emotional center of the story, doing personally very little but still managing to draw memorable moments from the despair and pathos he wallows in.

Season 9, Episode 1 -- Foisted!

"Foisted!" marks Richard Lewis' return on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" after being absent for the latter half of Season 8, and he returns in style. Confronting Larry David from the other side of a restaurant window in a fantastic moment of pantomime bickering, the two eventually reach a speaking distance and start hashing it out ... over Larry's insensitive text message about Richard's dead parakeet, of all things.

The scene is noteworthy because it both mirrors the character's very first "Curb" scene and expands on it. "The Pants Tent" version of Richard also made a dramatic entrance to chastise Larry over terrible behavior. Come Season 9, the character is still the same but his freakouts have become more elaborate. Yet, just like his frustration over Larry sabotaging his relationship, the reason for his ire is clear since he's grieving his dead pet while Larry, once again, is dismissing his emotions. It's a great return that shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same ... and, of course, this isn't the last time in the episode the dead parakeet comes up, much to Larry's discomfort.