‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Ad-Lib Humor Is “About the Spontaneity of the Moment.”
Many television comedies get their laughs from a room full of comedians who pore over every screenplay to make each punchline as funny as possible. However, believe it or not, the HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm is mostly improvised.
The HBO comedy has showed Larry David get into one awkward predicament after another as the Seinfeld co-creator rubs shoulders with Hollywood elite for ten seasons, with the 11th premiering tonight, Sunday, Oct. 24.
Because the plot of each Curb episode is simply sketched out in broad strokes, it’s up to the actors to bring the laughs. Richard Kind, a regular Curb guest star, told The New York Times last year, “A lot of times I worry: ‘Will I be OK?” “Should I start planning some lines ahead of time?” That is the adversary. It’s all about the spontaneity of the moment, and you have to be as spontaneous as you were the first time you did it, even if you’ve done it four, five, or six times from different angles.” In 2017, Jeff Garlin, who plays Jeff Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm, told Vulture that the Curb performers work from an outline rather than a script.
“It’s seven pages long and effectively tells the show’s story, with very little dialogue,” he said. “I might get one line per episode from Larry that he wants me to utter.” Aside than that, I’m familiar with the story and know what needs to be stated, so I just speak it.” Jeff also stated that actors “absolutely” have the freedom to improvise something that will significantly alter the plot. “However, if something is working, you don’t necessarily want to change it,” he added. “But unless he asks me to repeat something specific, I do a different take every time.” Bryan Cranston, who portrayed Larry’s therapist on Curb Your Enthusiasm, told the New York Times that the Curb set was both strict and flexible. “Larry has a lot of faith in the abilities of the folks he recruits to come in and create personalities,” he explained. “There is a lot of trial and error.” You do take after take after take after take after take after take after take after take after take after take after take You’re attempting this and attempting that.” In a 2017 episode, Judy Sheindlin of Judge Judy fame played herself on the show, adjudicating a custody issue involving Larry and a ficus plant. She told the publication, “They said, ‘Be you,’ so I was me.” “I snatched… Brinkwire’s quick summary.”