Monday, March 15, 2010

PaleyFest #2: Live action Curb Your Enthusiasm

NSFW warning: Assume all Curb Your Enthusiasm Clips have adult language

Sunday night marked the last of my PaleyFest panels. (sniff) Honestly, I feel as though I should be getting a special certificate of merit in Television Viewing after all of this.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
was the final panel and the evening opened with a series of favorite clips from the show. We saw Crazy Eyez Killa in all his glory, Cheryl escaping a car stuck in a car wash, Larry eating the animal cracker baby Jesus, Vivica Fox cussing out Suzy and slamming a door in her face, Larry clubbing a black swan, Larry picking up a prostitute so he could use the carpool lane, Leon having a discussion with Kramer... One of the largest laughs was from the ski lift scene.

On the stage were Richard Lewis, Cheryl Hines, Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, and Bob Einstein (Marty Funkhouser).

Curb Your Enthusiasm began as a HBO special that showcased the behind the scenes life of Larry David as he prepared for a stand-up show after a 10 year absence from the stage. Larry realized that his actual life was pretty boring, so he concocted a fake wife and manager. Because it was supposed to be a documentary, it had to be improv, he explained. Besides, Larry added, he hated the idea of memorizing lines and he once took an improv class and it seemed like fun. And with that, Curb was born.

Noticing that the show montage looked good on the large PaleyFest screen, the moderator's first question was if there was any talk about a Curb Your Enthusiasm movie. Larry's response: No, nada. I don't think so. No plans.

Okaaaaayyyy... Later on in the evening, we got a more receptive response about the possibility of a eight season - "pretty good chance... working on some stuff." Any changes in store for the show? "Zero. No change. They're going to be more annoying, more obnoxious."

Next up was a moderator question about whether or not the Seinfeld arc would be repeated in a future season. I cringed, knowing that this question wouldn't go over so well. lol I also didn't like the Seinfeld season too much - in fact, my favorite episode last season was the one country club that barely featured the Seinfeld crew where Larry kills the black swan with a 9 iron. But yeah - the question didn't go over well and Larry said that there will be no more references to Seinfeld, no more reunions, and that Seinfeld questions were not appropriate tonight. He was sort of joking, but I knew he was actually serious. lol

In replying to the "How'd you get on the show?" question, Bob innocently replies that he knows Seinfeld, which brought the house down.

Cheryl admits that at first, she didn't think she was right for the part (Larry: Why, too pretty? Cue audience laughter.) because of the age difference.

Her agent told her to just show up - "maybe there's a role for a waitress or something" - but Cheryl liked Larry immediately and the two clicked. At the time of her audition, she was a personal assistant for Rob Reiner and when they asked her at the audition to stay to run through a couple more scenes, she was concerned about picking up his laundry. A mere four hours later, she had the part, which is virtually unheard of in Hollywoodland. Apparently, they were looking for an unknown and they liked how she was "sassy" in her audition. Now that she's been on Curb for a while, she's shocked at how actors work outside of the Curb universe. Everyone talks about everything, everyone has a process, and they're very serious about what they're doing - from why they're wearing high heels, to why they're walking down a sidewalk. ou have to stop yourself from ad-libbing

Richard Lewis has known Larry since he was 14 years old and describes their two minute meeting that began their time on Curb together.

Larry: We should work together. What do you think?
Richard: Fine.
Larry: Ok - I'll call you.

He then goes off on this tangent about how he surreptitiously spritzed himself with water during the scene where he's moving furniture for a blind man because he needed sweat. Larry jumps in - I would have let you keep the sweat. Richard: no you would have said it's too much... it's too much. Basically, it felt like we were watching a live action version of Curb featuring Annoyed Larry and Neurotic Richard.

Susie explains that she had difficulty at first calling Jeff a "fat fuck" until Larry pulled her aside and told her "he's my friend. I know the guy - he'll have no problem." Larry adds that he saw Susie roasting Jerry Stiller and that he knew from the clubs that she was "really filthy" and a perfect match for the show.

One of my favorite Susie scenes is when Vivica Fox cusses her out.

Larry mentions that it was the happiest days in his life to see that, but Susie disagreed saying that she thought Susie would have gotten in Vivica's face and not taken things so meekly.

Watching the cast interact with each other, it's clear that they are playing larger versions of themselves. Jeff Garlin is expansive with a truly infectious laugh - you can get a taste of it in the above clip. Richard Lewis is neurotic and whiny. Larry David is surly. Cheryl smiles a lot. Bob cracks jokes. Susie seems much calmer - so I guess she's the only one that's different. lol

The moderator asked the actors what scenes their fans mention as their favorites. This question kind of draws a blank. Jeff says that Curb fans pretty much just tell them that they like the show - that "they're not typical TV watchers, not stupid people. They compliment you and move on their way." Susie doesn't get off as lucky. People everywhere ask her to tell them to go fuck themselves, or to call them a fat fuck, a challenge because, she's "not always in the mood." Many times fans will quote lines from the show, which poses a problem because the cast doesn't memorize lines and often don't remember what specific words they've said. Case in point: one man in Canada asked Cheryl how her vagina was doing. (I didn't remember that episode either. lol)

The biggest problem is fans pitching show ideas - both Richard and Jeff have that problem. Jeff went as far to say that he's heard thousands of ideas and not one of them has been any good. Apparently, Larry is the main person that comes up with ideas. In fact, the only person that has come up with an idea that was used was Cheryl (the scene when her plane was going down and Larry told her to call back because the cable guy was at the house). But, she added, if I knew that phone call would be the reason for Cheryl leaving Larry I wouldn't have said it!

Susie says she hates it when people come up to her and say that they're Larry David. She wants to respond, "no, he's a genius and you're an annoying accountant from Great Neck." Jeff adds that sometimes men tell him that their wife is just like Susie and everyone in the theater goes ooooo!

Richard for some reason tells a story about how Larry and him were having dinner at a restaurant. They'd ordered about 20 dishes and just when the food comes, Larry gets a phone call and runs out the restaurant, saying that Steve Martin had just called and that he was supposed to play poker with him. With no apology, Richard pointedly adds. Larry says something about how important it is to have that sixth person in a poker game, but when Richard continues complaining, he leans across Cheryl and dryly apologizes. Larry seems pretty annoyed right now and everyone on the panel is like WTF is going on. lol
An interesting discussion happens when the moderator asks Cheryl why her character loves Larry. Cheryl laughs and turns to Larry for the answer while Jeff butts in - Can I answer? Because it's in the script! Cheryl laughs and says that Larry makes her laugh, is intelligent and Larry butts in - people only see us fighting, but when the cameras aren't there, we really get along very well. Conflict creates comedy. Why do people need to see us kissing? Who cares.

Another question from the moderator: Is the show too offensive?
Larry: No. I do have a line - sometimes ideas don't make it in. The line's pretty far out though.
When asked if he had any examples of something being too offensive to make the show, Larry says no. Okaaaay then. Bob asked if he had problems with Jeff screwing his mentally ill sister on the show, and Larry responds that he had no problem with that.

Question from the moderator: Where did the role of Leon come from?
Larry: I heard people were taking in people after Katrina.
Okaaaay then. But then he adds, to the crow's delight that he thinks there will be more Leon next season. Excellent!

Two of my favorite Leon moments

and if you liked those, you'll probably get a kick out of this mega Leon montage.

One of the main themes of the night was describing the process of Curb. They don't rehearse, they don't have lines, and they don't discuss the scenes before hand. There's a basic paragraph of a couple of sentences that provides the structure (mostly describing major actions), but that's basically it. And sometimes, Jeff adds, they don't even know what the paragraph is until the scene is ready to be filmed. He remembers taking his place in a room, and right before the director yelled action, he asked the assistant director what was going on because he forgot the structure. Because of the fly by your seat of your pants structure, Susie commented that the actors have to listen a lot to each other.

Curb is sort of the anti-actor show. Larry admits to hating anything actorly. One guest star on the show started talking in character and wanted to discuss his character's previous motivations and Larry responded, "we don't do that on this show." Characters organically evolve without any navel-gazing by the actors. No scripts, no rehearsals, no Method. Jeff gushes, "I can't tell you how happy that makes me" because the entire process is "designed for the way I work." Most of the time on set he's thinking about what's for lunch (his words, not mine).

Bob tells some off color jokes, to the audience's delight, and Larry just sits there with a scowl. When Bob finishes, Larry asks Richard Lewis if he'd also like to do some of his act. Larry doesn't seem too happy - not sure if he's acting or if he's legitimately pissed to be here. Either way, it's fricking hilarious.

Time for audience questions! Not for the faint of heart, as folks get snarky answer from Larry and insulted by Bob.

Audience member #1: Where did Wendy Wheelchair come from?
Larry: Don't remember.

Audience member #2: (British accent) Are Cheryl and Larry -
Bob: Will you knock off that fake accent?
[audience laughter]
Audience member #2: (British accent intact) Are Cheryl and Larry going to blah blah blah
Larry: Oh, we don't know.

Audience member #3: (reading from notecards) Curb Your Enthusiasm makes it a point to showcase individuals of different race and ethnicities and explores the differences and similar-
Bob: Are you armed?
[audience laughter]
Bob: What are you reading?
Larry: She's prepared.
Audience member #3: - differences and similarities. Is it your contention that we need to foster a better sense of humor in dealing with each other?
Larry: Yes, I think we should laugh at ourselves. [He continues on this vein for 30 more seconds, but it's totally insincere. lol He doesn't really care, nor does he have any real desire to analyze his show.]

A couple of audience members get some good questions in that are actually given some answers.

Audience member #4: Can you talk a little about directing improv? How do you get everything?
Answer: They have two cameras filming at all times, sometimes three. One is always Larry. They try to cover as much as they can.

Audience member #5: Will you be featuring your Toyota Prius next season?
Larry: [pause] Point well taken.

At the end of the audience Q&A, security swarms the stage. Larry makes a beeline for the stage exit, and the other cast members sign autographs for a few minutes before leaving as well.


HaveShoesWillTravel said...

Paleyfest sounds so fun.

{grace} said...

OMG, your post reminded me that my husband got into a screaming match with Rob Reiner on a sidewalk in Century City, years ago. LMAO.

I love that you were able to go to this, sounds like you had a great time. I love me some Larry. I do remember the vagina episode, LOL! It cracks me up that Larry David just doesn’t care.

wan said...

your paleyfest recaps are so way better than mine, fo' sho'.

N said...

larry sounds like a jerk. not surprising.