The Pretty, Pretty Good Origins of Larry David’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Catchphrase

Larry David’s beloved ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ catchphrase predates ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ altogether.
Courtesy of HBO

Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. That’s an extreme understatement of how the world generally feels about Curb Your Enthusiasm, the sitcom in which Seinfeld co-creator Larry David plays a gaffe-prone, willing-to-die-on-any-hill, monstrous version of himself, who is constantly convinced he is being persecuted by everyone around him and fueled by a combination of self-loathing and an unshakeable conviction that he is absolutely correct at all times.

It takes a lot to be able to attack Elmo on live television—and for it to be both absolutely on-brand and somehow immediately forgivable, but that’s the space David has carved out for himself (amassing somewhere around an estimated half-a-billion dollars in the process).

The newest season of Curb premiered on February 4 and is the series’ final season, meaning this might—might—be the final outing for David’s “Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good” catchphrase. The line first reared its head back in 2000, during the very first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and is frequently uttered by David, showcasing the comedian’s unparalleled ability to make a word lose all meaning in just a couple of repetitions. It’s referenced in a practically every article about the show, and inspired the title of a David biography.

It’s a hell of a catchphrase, immediately creating an awkward air of insincerity and discomfort.

However, its origins pre-date the sitcom and lie in David’s standup comedy days. David—who famously once walked out on stage, decided he didn’t like the look of the crowd, and immediately left—used it while talking about how little his parents understood him. 

In the routine, he described how naive his mother and father were to his emotional state at any time, saying his mother could walk into the kitchen and find him with his head in the oven preparing to kill himself, and all it would provoke would be a, “How are you, Larry?”

His answer? “Pretty good. Pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.”

When Curb Your Enthusiasm airs its final episode on April 7—an event laden with an enormous amount of pressure, given both Curb’s quarter-century run and Seinfeld’s polarizing, David-penned finale—it could be the end of the road for the catchphrase. But, given the internet’s love of the cringe-filled world David has built (and the enormous amount of subsequent comedy influenced by him)—not to mention the endlessly rewatchable and meme-able nature of the show—it’s unlikely people will stop enjoying the series anytime soon. They’re unlikely, in fact, to curb their enthusiasm.