Brian A. Kates (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ editor) on capturing the ‘wild’ style of great stand-up comedy [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Brian A. Kates‘s main focus when editing the pilot for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was on “not screwing up what was given to me.” Creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino have “a very strong sensibility, sense of style, [and] sense of musicality,” all of which needed to be conveyed in the premiere episode. Kates pulled off the task and scored an Emmy nomination for Best Picture Editing (Single-Camera Comedy) for the Amazon series. It was one of 14 overall bids the freshman show received. Watch our exclusive video interview with Kates above.

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Rachel Brosnahan stars as Midge Maisel, a 1950s New York City housewife who pursues a stand-up career after her husband (Michael Zegen) leaves her for his secretary. The biggest challenge, Kates admits, came in the climactic stand-up scene where Midge discovers her comedic voice after taking to an open mic in a fit of rage. “You can’t really tell whether she’s having a breakdown or doing a comedy routine,” he explains, “because it’s something in-between. Being right on that fine line between something really wild and something that has comic timing where the jokes land was really challenging and really fun.”

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Kates wanted to put the viewer in the shoes of the crowd watching Midge for the first time. “You want to feel the way that the audience feels looking at her,” he says, “which is not being sure if it’s a put-on or not. It could be schtick. So you have to play it first as awkwardness, and then it has to transition into a kind of magic where, like great comedy, it’s wild.” This had to be conveyed in “the way that the audience responded,” particularly in audio, which “has to be genuine. Too big a laugh that’s not earned for the joke is going to make it feel forced; too small a laugh isn’t going to push the narrative in the right direction.”

Kates previously won an Emmy for the TV movie “Taking Chance” in 2009. He is also known for his work on such films as “The Woodsman” (2004), “The Savages” (2007), “Killing Them Softly” (2012), “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013), and “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” (2017).

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