EXCLUSIVE: Curb Your Enthusiasm editor Jonathan Corn on cutting comedy & working with Larry David
Jonathan Corn just bagged an ACE Eddie award in the Best Edited Comedy for Non-commercial Television category for his amazing work on Curb Your Enthusiasm episode The Shucker in the latest series and he has edited 27 episodes of the Golden Globe-winning show following Seinfeld creator and comedian Larry David playing an exaggerated version of himself as he gets himself into constant trouble in Los Angeles. As well as cutting Curb, Jonathan has also edited hit shows The Goldbergs and Entourage as well as editing Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy feature film, set in the fashion world, Brüno.
Here Jonathan talks to Mandy News about how he started out, getting his break, cutting comedy, working with Larry David and more!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the industry?
I started in college as an architecture major but ended up with a BA in English. When I graduated, I quickly learned that there was nothing one could do with a degree in literature other than go to more school which I certainly did not want to do. So I thought that, since I had always enjoyed movies and TV, I should move to Los Angeles and give it a try.
I managed to get a job as a Post PA on a show that used Avid in it’s nascent days and I was drawn to it. Luckily for me there was an editor on the show who became my defacto mentor.
He not only let me watch him work but he gave me access to the equipment which was quite restricted at the time - Avid’s were very expensive at the time. Over time and with a lot of practice I was able to get proficient with Avid and pick up some room skills.
How did you get involved with Curb Your Enthusiasm? You were the editor of the original movie is that correct?
I didn’t edit the original special, although I think IMDB has had me on there erroneously for years! Steve Rasch edited the special and has edited every season since then.
I started at the beginning of season two as a replacement for an editor who left after season one. As it turned out, when they were looking for another editor, they contacted my mentor who was busy with another project and he graciously recommended me.
I met with Steve Rasch and a producer named Megan Murphy and to this day I don’t know why they hired me - I had very little experience (but the right kind of experience). I’m glad they did though and will forever be grateful and indebted to them! I think they took a small risk on a hunch and it worked out. I’ve tried to do the same thing throughout my career in an effort to pass on the favour.
What's it like to work with Larry David? I understand he is very involved with all aspects of the show, including being in the edit.
Working with Larry is really great. It seems to me that he likes to edit, or at least tolerates it. Because the show is improvised, we have a lot of options as we edit. So my cut will serve as a guide track. Then Larry will come in and watch all of the footage and I’ll add or subtract from the cut as necessary to get all of his choices in. Then we begin to pare down the cut until it get’s to what we air. So that’s the process.
As far as Larry goes, he makes the job a lot of fun. He spends a lot of time in the edit. While there is such thing as a bad idea – and he will let you know when you have one – he is not adverse to hearing any and all ideas. A bad one may lead to the right one. It’s a collaborative environment and as much as I enjoy the autonomy of the editor cut, I really enjoy when he comes in and we really begin paring it down.
You have also worked on some other heavyweight series including Parks and Recreation and Entourage, could you tell us a little about these, and perhaps the different editing techniques used on some of the different shows you have worked on?
Curb was my first big show and because it’s improvised I learned that anything can be used anywhere, to think non-linearly, and to use the script as a guide.
Entourage was a fun counterbalance to Curb. It was shot on film which is expensive so the directors had to think very hard about what they shot and how they covered it. The show was also shot more cinematically. So my dailies were more clearly a blue-print of how the scenes should be put together. But it’s always fun to tweak things and move lines and sit on reactions and just see what you can do to make the scene, the transition, the show a little better. On Entourage, I felt like I was cutting a very expensive short every few weeks.
I worked on the first season of Parks and Recreation and it was my first foray into network TV. Dean Holland, an editor/director I had known for a few years at that point pulled me in. I was thrilled to be working with Dean, an office alum, along with Greg Daniels and Mike Schur who’s work I had admired. I got to see the network process for the first time. I also worked closer with the writers for the first time, which was not part of the process on Entourage. It was a fun experience.
What is your preferred kit, and what do you think about the advances that have been made to editing programs?
I’m still an Avid devotee although it’s important to keep up with things and I have done a couple projects on Premiere. There are a lot of things I like about Premiere, I’m just not quite as proficient on it as I am on Avid. I think the advances are all fine, good, and convenient, but the basic job – telling a good and compelling story, or joke –hasn’t changed at all and never will. Some of the tools just help make the work-flow more efficient. That’s been my experience, at least.
What’s coming up next for you in 2018 and beyond?
I plan on going back to do another season on Curb Your Enthusiasm which will probably carry me into 2019. And, after that, who knows? I’d like to try something with a little more action sequences; maybe a fist-fight or a car chase!
Do you have any advice or tips for up-and-coming editors?
Find something, anything, to cut. Find an aspiring director and offer up your services. The road from assistant editor to editor isn’t what it used to be as the AE job has become much more technical. So edit everything you can.
Love this interview? Check out our exclusive interview with fellow Curb Your Enthusiasm editor Roger Nygard who has also cut hit comedy Veep.Tags: