The stereotype of the Jewish male as a hypersexual deviant has a long genealogy, one that straddles the fine line separating anti-Semitic discourse from seemingly self-deprecating Jewish satire. On November 4, 2017, Larry David co-opted this trope in a Saturday Night Live opening monologue about seducing women in a Nazi concentration camp. Critics were infuriated that David would “spoon-feed Neo-Nazis” during an era of heightened Jewish fear, engendered by the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally and the fallout of the #MeToo movement. Despite the outrage, this was not new terrain for David, as he had used the motif of Jewish sexual deviance numerous times on his HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. On Curb, David’s character is repeatedly branded a sexual deviant by sheer happenstance—a product of his own ineptitude and an uncanny ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. David thereby appropriates and negates the myth of Jewish deviance through satire, and he uses the comedic discursive space it creates to broach controversial topics such as the Holocaust and Jewish–Christian relations. By playing the hapless schlimazel, David simultaneously challenges tenacious stereotypes and confronts the ghosts of collective memory that continue to haunt the Jewish people.
"Curb Your Orgasm: Larry David and the Schlimazel as Sexual Deviant,"
Jewish Film & New Media: Vol. 7
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/jewishfilm/vol7/iss2/2