The only character who appears in every single episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is Larry David. That means that everyone who’s not Larry David – even if they’re his wife or his best friend or they live in his house – is a supporting character. Whether or not they’re a great character depends on a number of factors: their relationship with Larry, the improvisational skills of the actor playing them, the storylines they’re involved in, how well-defined they are as people etc. Some of those characters, naturally, are stronger than others.
Larry’s assistant Antoinette doesn’t work for him anymore, but she did work for him until season 8. In that season, she finally got involved in a storyline as her father died and Larry tried to sort her work schedule around her grief. Antoinette was a nice familiar face to have around in the show, but she never really contributed any jokes. She was a good sounding board for Larry and got him into a lot of awkward situations, like when she revealed in front of a director played by Michael McKean that Larry had “a tickle in his anus,” but as a character, she wasn’t all that memorable.
9 Mary Steenburgen
Fans watching season 9 of Curb were horrified when Ted Danson revealed that he’d separated from his wife Mary Steenburgen. A lot of viewers rushed to Google to see if one of Hollywood’s cutest couples had actually broken up. Fortunately, they hadn’t, and it was all leading up to a storyline in which Ted dates Cheryl against Larry’s wishes. Mary has been on the show a few times, beginning in season 1 when she took Larry shopping with her mother, but her appearances are too infrequent for her to be considered a great character, even though she’s always great in it.
8 Richard Lewis
Richard Lewis has been friends with Larry David since they were kids who met at camp, and they initially hated each other, but they grew into friends as they came up on the New York standup scene together. This history shows in Curb Your Enthusiasm, as they clearly know what to say to get each other going and they have impeccable on-screen chemistry. However, on the whole, Lewis is one of the show’s weaker characters. He’s not involved in the best storylines and while his misery plays well against Larry’s misery, on its own, it’s rarely the funny kind of misery.
7 Nat David
Shelley Berman is one of the most influential and brilliant performers in the history of comedy. In 1959, he became the winner of the first ever Grammy Award for a spoken comedy recording. Berman sadly passed away in 2017. Luckily, he managed to squeeze in one last chapter of his immense legacy before he died, so that modern audiences will remember what a terrific comedic talent he was.
He played Larry David’s father, Nat, in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and with his giant glasses and general cluelessness, he made scenes of his character watching porn and smoking pot far more hilarious than they could’ve been.
6 Jeff Greene
It was Jeff Garlin who encouraged Larry David to pursue Curb Your Enthusiasm, first as a standup special and later as a series, so he was cast to play Larry’s best friend in the show, his adulterous manager Jeff Greene. Garlin does a great job of playing Jeff as a chilled-out L.A. millionaire, and has even said that he has no sympathy for the character, calling him a “pretty evil guy” with “no morals, no scruples.” As a master improviser, Garlin does a terrific job of playing off of David as well as standing out on his own when he has to do monologues or one-sided phone calls.
5 Cheryl David
It’s been said that as soon as Cheryl Hines came in for the audition, Larry David knew she was the perfect actress to play his wife, because she always had the perfect response to anything he said. She did an excellent job of playing the wife who has to put up with Larry, but ultimately sees past his flaws and loves him. It was a shame when Cheryl broke up with Larry – despite David’s promise that if his real-life wife left him, his TV wife would, too – because it meant that we wouldn’t get to see their brilliant chemistry on-screen anymore.
4 Ted Danson
Introduced in just the second episode of the entire series, Ted Danson has never really gotten along with Larry, which is what makes their interactions so hilarious. All it takes is for Ted to offer Larry a piece of pie and before too long, the conversation has escalated to yelling.
It’s the clash of Ted’s laidback West Coast personality and Larry’s neurotic East Coast personality that makes their pairing such a joy. A Curb Your Enthusiasm character is only as funny as their conversations with Larry, since that’s the only way they get into an episode, and for that reason, Ted Danson is one of the best.
3 Marty Funkhouser
It was a real tragedy earlier this year when Bob Einstein passed away, because he was hysterical and beloved by comedy fans. His role in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Marty Funkhouser, was a curious and interesting character. On the surface, he never actually said anything funny and always took himself seriously, but he still never failed to get huge laughs in whatever scene he was in. That just goes to show how brilliant a comic mind Einstein was – he could be hilarious without saying anything funny, just by reacting to the situation. His constant clashes with Larry made him a delight to watch.
2 Susie Greene
From the very beginning, it was clear that Larry David and Susie Essman shared a special comic energy. It’s also a testament to their real-life friendship that they can scream the most horrible things at each other on-camera and then be the best of friends off-camera. Whenever Larry and Susie are in a scene together, there’s almost a guarantee that they’ll disagree on something that comes up in conversation and escalate that disagreement to a shouting match. We expect it whenever we see them in the same room, and it’s what makes their pairing such an exciting part of the show.
1 Leon Black
Curb Your Enthusiasm didn’t feel truly complete until J.B. Smoove was brought on board to play his streetwise sidekick, Leon Black. Initially, Leon was only supposed to appear in a couple of episodes after Larry and Cheryl took in his family in season 6. But he proved to have such fantastic chemistry with Larry, especially with the two being completely opposite sides of the same coin, that he’s stuck around ever since. Even after Cheryl and the rest of Leon’s family moved out, Leon stayed. Leon is great at doling out nonsensical, yet ultimately wise life lessons to Larry, which pairs well with scenes like the “a-jack-a-lit” confusion.