Standups who hate improv but love "Curb"

A lot of standups hate on improv but love "Curb Your Enthusiasm." That doesn't make much sense since Curb is mostly improvised. Maybe they just mean they hate shitty improv. But really, who doesn't? Shitty standup ain't no picnic either.

Speaking of Curb/improv, I think Jeff Garlin's manager character on the show is a near-perfect example of "Yes, and..." No matter what ridiculous scheme Larry concocts, Jeff is right there in agreement and ready to be an enabler. You want to steal a golf club out of a dead guy's casket? Sure, I'll help you do that.

Here's a great Curb scene where Larry and his wife pretend to be Republican WASPs in order to get into a country club:


d said...

Well, sort of:

1. 'Curb' is edited. They film many different takes from different angles, and then pull it all into the final scene. So in the editing process, they are in a way writing how the scene is going to go.

2. Larry David writes ahead of time how the scene is supposed to work out. So Jeff Garlin doesn't get to decide if his character is going with the golf club idea or not, it's already says in the outline that he has to or the story would end right there.

But I see what you are saying about "yes and"ing: even when Cheryl disapproves of something Larry says, she doesn't straight out say "no!" She lets him go on anyway and eventually it gets funny.

So I guess I'm saying it's not quite improv, but improv experience can come in handy.

Matt Ruby said...

Yeah, good points d. There's definitely a safety net involved when you can edit how you like. I just think it's weird when comics say they hate improv (which lots do) but then turnaround and think Curb is great (which it is).

The scripted stuff is pretty minimal too: "All dialogue is improvised from a loose five-page outline" (acc to this article about David).

d said...

Yeah, and someone saying that they hate improv is weird, no doubt.

Curb is great because it takes a little from both- it keeps the dialogue & characters fresh, yet it's going somewhere with a story that ties up well in the end.

(I didn't really like the last season, though)

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