‘Defending My Life’ Gives Albert Brooks the Living Funeral He Asked for in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

‘Defending My Life’ Gives Albert Brooks the Living Funeral He Asked for in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

“You going to Albert Brooks' funeral?” Larry asks Jeff as they wait for an elevator in Season 11’s kickoff episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm

“I have no choice,” gripes Jeff. “Who throws a funeral for themselves while they're alive?”

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Brooks does! Not only that but he asks Larry to speak at the service. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What was Brooks up to in this episode? Why throw a funeral for himself? He explains the whole concept to Larry’s date Lucy Liu as they head to a party. “I call it a live funeral,” he reveals. “So in the last three years, I've been to five real funerals. The idea that people get together and friends get together and say wonderful things should be done to a person who can hear it. It's just a different way of thinking about it. I can't stand that all this praise is going to somebody in a box.”

“You can't stand that the praise is going to somebody else,” Larry grins.

“I will bet money this catches on,” counters Brooks.

Because this is Curb Your Enthusiasm, of course, the live funeral doesn’t go as planned. Larry’s eulogy emphasizes the fact that Brooks is still alive before giving way to Jon Hamm’s more sincere tribute. But when Larry looks for a bathroom in Brooks’ home during the memorial, he discovers a closet full of pandemic supplies — Purel, toilet paper, masks. Brooks is a COVID hoarder! All of the mourners turn against the living guest of honor. “Shame on you, Albert Brooks!” shouts Susie.

But maybe Brooks was onto something. Why should we wait until our loved ones are dead before we say nice things about them? Fortunately for the beloved comic, he’ll get to hear all the praise in the great new documentary, Albert Brooks: Defending My Life. Was it merely a coincidence that long-time pal (and documentary director) Rob Reiner essentially gives Brooks the live funeral he yearned for on Curb? After all, what is a career retrospective documentary for if not to revel in the greatness of its subject?

“I’m going to do something to embarrass the hell out of you,” Reiner says to Brooks as the two talk in an otherwise empty restaurant. “I’ve always looked up to you. I’m telling you the truth. Because to me, there was nobody that did what you could do with comedy. And I’ve always been a little bit intimidated.”

“It took this (filming a documentary) to finally hear a compliment,” jokes Brooks.

Reiner can’t stop laughing. “I’m just telling you!”

“Jesus Christ,” says Brooks, basking in the compliments one rarely hears while alive. “I can’t wait til I’m dead.”

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