5 Historical Curmudgeons Who Make Larry David Look Like Tom Hanks

A few of our greatest grumps
5 Historical Curmudgeons Who Make Larry David Look Like Tom Hanks

Generally, being a miserable little shit isnt a path to endearment. If you were to poll people on what kind of person they needed more of in their social group, I dont think many would volunteer “someone whos constantly complaining about everything.” At the same time, everyone holds a man who does just that, Larry David, in high regard. 

Now, if you think that Im angling to perform any sort of contrarian takedown of Larry David here, Im sorry to relieve and/or disappoint. The fact is, you can perfectly well be a cantankerous crank and still be well-liked; youve just got to combine it with charisma and preferably humor. The difference between a wet blanket and a lovable grouch is no more than a skill issue. A needle thats been threaded by beloved squeaky wheels throughout history.

Here are five of them…


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Diogenes of Sinope was a philosopher from the era of Plato, though he never received quite as much attention from history. This was probably for exactly the reason I enjoy him, which is that he had less than zero interest in being palatable to pretty much anyone. Plato feels like he spoke with at least some vision of his words in a very important book. Diogenes would have made fun of him relentlessly for this — and often did. For example, one famous story is Plato proudly defining a man as an “animal, biped and featherless,” to which Diogenes responded by plucking a chicken and displaying the featherless corpse, proclaiming “Here is Plato's man.” 

Another of his most famous quotes was delivered to Alexander the Great, when Alexander stood in front of him, lying in the sun, and offered him anything he requested. Diogenes responded, “Stand out of my light.

Mark Twain

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Given that most peoples knowledge of Mark Twain is centered around the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he might not be immediately thought of as a miserable sort of guy. After all, those books are filled with childish mischief and frog gigging. But all you need to look to, to see the truth is those glorious eyebrows. Theyre the feathery, angled forehead caterpillars of someone who loves to grumble. 

We get a better glimpse into his annoyance with many things in general in a quote from the beginning of the aforementioned Huckleberry Finn: “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” Hed also fully agree that happy people are the least entertaining, once saying, “The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

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Arthur Schopenhauer is probably the most miserable, least funny person on this list. Though it wasnt his fault, hes just German. Id argue if he was born somewhere that people dont react to jokes like a dog reacts to physics, hed have had a bright future as a comedian. His misanthropy is not in question, though, with him rattling off quotes like, “Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people,” which is a hell of a way to turn down a dinner invitation. 

His biggest problem — and the reason nobodys putting his quotes on ironic needlepoints — is that he made the mistake of combining cantankerousness with condescension. “To live alone is the fate of all great souls”? Maybe living alone is the fate of people who say shit like that.

Oscar Wilde

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Oscar Wilde was a poet and playwright from Ireland, which is a fantastic place if youre looking for someone funny and miserable. He also might not seem naturally quite as depressed as others on this list because of his penchant for furs and shiny shoes. Its hard to take complaining seriously when the person doing it is wearing a fistful of rings. Dive into his famous quotes though, and youll find a highly prickly brain under those silky, luxurious locks. 

He shared, too, Twains distaste for Goody-Two-shoes, saying, “It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” Which, to link back to Larry David, is a perfect explanation to shut down anyone desperate to have what they think is an interesting argument about the morality of Seinfelds characters. If youre bothered by the existence of assholes, youre going to be watching a lot of boring movies.

George Carlin

Tony Fischer

Okay, it’s arguable whether hes really considered “historical.” But I’d say that hes achieved the most important part of being considered history, which is dying. Why fuck around until less people remember him to let him make the list? George Carlins whole life was a crusade against the idiot, which everyone can get behind because theyll always think youre talking about someone else. 

For all his annoyances, he was hyper-aware that none of it really mattered anyway. One of his greatest criticisms was of people exactly like him and everybody on this list: “Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and dont have time for all that.”

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