Q4 2021

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50 C I N E M O N T A G E F E A T U R E By Roger Nygard S acha Baron Cohen calls editing "the most precise craft that affects the success or failure of your jokes." Larry David has said, "When I think about doing another season of 'Curb Your Enthu- siasm,' it's not the writing that's daunting, it's the editing." Why is editing such a hard part of the comedy process? One reason is because there is little room for error. When something that is supposed to be funny isn't, it's obvious. Two frames can make the difference between fun- ny and not funny. If your skills aren't razor sharp, it truly stands out. In 2007 I interviewed for a job editing Season Six of "Curb Your En- thusiasm." When I met Larry David, he asked, "Why do you want to work on this show?" I said, "I want to learn from you, Larry. I want to see how you do what you do from the inside." He chuckled, pretended he wasn't flattered, and said, "You can't learn any- thing from me." I also said that working with him would be like an opportunity to work with one of the greats like Ernie Kovacs or Phil Silvers—except those guys are dead. He loved the comparison to Phil Silvers, who it turned out was a comedy hero of his. I got the job. In 2018, I was hired on "Grey's Anatomy" because the new showrunner, Krista Vern- off, wanted to steer the show back toward its comedic roots. One day, one of the other editors took me aside and asked, "How do you edit comedy?" I thought about how comedy and drama are such dif- ferent beasts. I jotted down a quick list of comedy-editing precepts for him. And then I kept going. Cut to: three years later and I had completed a com- edy-editing book. I figured that since I had various funny people trapped in an edit bay all day, they should be able to tell me how they find the funny. J u d d A p a t o w p r o t e s t e d t h a t comedy rules are hard to define. But he gamely tried. "It's always about creating surprise or suddenly moving in a direction an audience doesn't expect." Sacha Baron Cohen said his goal is also to be unexpected, to show Steven Rasch and Roger Nygard.

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