You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Return’s Improv Nature Challenges Editors

The much anticipated ninth season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which debuts on HBO on Oct. 1, ends the socially caustic comedy’s six-year hiatus. The long layoff posed a special challenge for picture editors Steve Rasch and Jonathan Corn.

Rasch has been cutting the series since the pilot, with Corn stepping in to help during season two. “Everyone’s been wondering how we’re going to get back up to speed after the break,” says Rasch. “We justify it in the first episode and don’t pretend it’s an immediate continuation from season eight. Other than that, the show is the same as it was before.”

“Curb” uses no script; instead the actors improvise their dialogue based on a bare outline. Two opposing cameras simultaneously record the action, and then in post the editors must comb through all the footage to find the beats of an episode that can take up to three weeks to finish. Creator Larry David and series director Jeff Schaffer are both heavily involved.

“We’re trying to pluck together the best stuff into a coherent scene in the funniest way possible,” says Corn. Adds Rasch: “Our goal is to make great sentences, not great edits. We make scenes sound natural — as if they were written that way.”

The editors will sometimes use different takes to finish sentences based on performance or what’s deemed funnier. Cutting on specific consonants — like s, t or p — is a trick they commonly use to combine two takes into one sentence. They’ll also turn to the opposing cameras as a way to cut around the actor’s face. “The lack of b-roll is one of the challenges in this show,” notes Corn. “You wish you had something to cut to because it would be convenient editorially, but at the same time, we want to keep a docu feel.”

As for “Curb’s” soundtrack, David first heard the eventual theme music, “Frolic,” composed by Luciano Michelini, in a bank commercial. “Music is our tool to bring the mood back up and cue the audience to laugh,” says Rasch, who also serves as music supervisor. “It’s this enjoyable circus track that has good energy and counterbalances the sour humor in the show.”

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • Advanced Imaging Society Honors 10 Women

    AIS Honors 10 Women in Tech

    Celebrating 10 years of achievement in entertainment technology, the Advanced Imaging Society today named 10 female industry innovators who will receive the organization’s 2019 Distinguished Leadership Awards at the its 10th annual Entertainment Technology Awards ceremony on October 28 in Beverly Hills. The individuals were selected by an awards committee for being significant “entertainment industry [...]

  • Will Smith Gemini Man Special Effects

    How the 'Gemini Man' VFX Team Digitally Created a Younger Version of Will Smith

    More human than human — yes, that’s a “Blade Runner” reference — yet it sounds like an unattainable standard when it comes to creating believable, photorealistic, digital human characters. But the visual effects team on Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” set its sights on something even more difficult: creating a digital version of young Will Smith [...]

  • Jest to Impress Cartoon Network Virtual

    New In-House VR Program Helps Cartoon Network Artists Add a Virtual Dimension

    Teams of animators and artists from across Cartoon Network’s numerous properties are getting the chance to expand into virtual reality storytelling via the company’s pilot program, Journeys VR. The work of the first three teams — including experiences based on action, nature and comedy — was unveiled to global audiences Oct. 1 on Steam and [...]

  • Frozen 2

    How the 'Frozen II' Artists Created Believable Emotion Through Animation

    “The more believable you can make the character [look], the more people believe how [it’s] feeling,” says Tony Smeed, who, with Becky Bresee, shared the challenge of heading animation on Disney’s highly anticipated “Frozen II.” “Emotion comes from inside and manifests itself into actions and facial expressions. Anything beyond that is movement for the sake [...]

  • Lucy in the Sky BTS

    'Lucy in the Sky' DP Shifts Frame to Show Inner Turmoil of Natalie Portman's Astronaut

    What drew cinematographer Polly Morgan to “Lucy in the Sky” was how Noah Hawley’s script so clearly illuminated the emotional breakdown of astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) in a way that felt very insular: The visual cues were on the page — and conveyed an unusual approach to charting the character’s journey. “When things fall [...]


    How Makeup, Hair and Costume Team Gave 'Joker' a New Look for Origin Story

    “We’re not in the superhero world,” says Nicki Ledermann, makeup head on Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” which reimagines the iconic comic book villain’s origin in an acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix. “This story is treated as real life, and that’s what made the project so interesting.” In this most recent take on Batman’s nemesis — a [...]

  • Exceptional Minds VFX Autism Training

    VES Honoree Susan Zwerman Trains People on the Autism Spectrum for Film, TV Jobs

    Most of those who have earned the honor of VES Fellow in the past decade have been recognized by the Visual Effects Society for on-screen innovation. But this year’s honoree, Susan Zwerman, is equally distinguished by her off-screen accomplishments. Zwerman is the studio executive producer for Exceptional Minds, a visual effects and animation school for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content