People ask me a lot how it’s going on The Big Bang Theory this season. We are about eight episodes into the seventh season, and I barely remember what these episodes have been about!
I learn scripts week to week, and once I have to learn the next one, I pretty much forget the previous week’s. That’s just the truth.
I know I sang with Simon Helberg’s character, Wolowitz, and we sang Neil Diamond. I know this week’s episode is our –first ever!–Thanksgiving episode. I know Johnny Galecki’s character was on a boat in the season opener and he came back, and I know that I’ve had some great scenes with Jim Parsons, but I can’t quite remember what they were about!
Here are a few other surprising things about working on The Big Bang Theory that you may not know.
1. We don’t get scripts in advance. It takes five days to do one episode, and we get scripts on Day One and we film on Day Five. We have no idea the “arc” of the season or what’s going to happen next week, and I like it like that. It’s sort of like life: no one gives you much of a heads up day-to-day about random stuff that’s going to happen, right?!
2. We have fun. Just like in any group of seven people, we have little jokes and things we like to talk about with each other. A lot of people at work talk about reality TV (which I don’t watch), but we also talk amongst ourselves and with our crew and staff about sports, other shows, comedians we like, movies, and such. It’s a workplace and we have fun at our job. There is also sometimes ping-pong.
3. We work hard. Making comedy is serious work. We may not work 14-hour days (some days we have!), but we work hard to make things not only funny, but logical, and coherent. Our scripts get tweaked all week long by our excellent writers, and there are always places to improve, relearn lines, and try out different things. Some days are harder than others, and working hard to make things funny when you can’t get the delivery of a line right can be very frustrating, especially if you are a Type A perfectionist who is very hard on yourself…
4. We film in front of a live studio audience. We are the last of a dying breed. A ton of shows used to be filmed in front of an audience, but these days, most aren’t. All of Chuck Lorre’s shows, though, are. He thinks it’s important and he’s right. He’s arguably the most prolific and successful producer in TV and I trust his judgment implicitly. And he knows something special happens when an audience is part of the comedy equation. Blossom was done this way, and I love it. It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, it’s incredibly nerve-wracking, and it’s truly the magic for our show, I think. People underestimate the power of a studio audience. And we add no canned laughter. If something isn’t funny to our audience (even if our writers think it is), it gets changed until the audience joins us. Laughs sometimes sound “canned” on TV because they need to be cut off and edited so the show fits into the 22 minute format. Some laughs in the studio go on longer because of reaction shots that never survive the cutting room floor, so laughs have to be edited too. We don’t add any laughter. That’s not what we do. If it’s not funny, it gets fixed until it is. Which is why our tapings sometimes go until 10:30 p.m.!
5. I don’t watch myself on TV. Most of our cast does, I think. I’m not really sure. I never saw the last three seasons of so of Blossom and haven’t really watched myself much on TV since. Sometimes I will see snippets of episodes they show to our live audience here on tape nights, but mostly I run the other way when I see myself or hear my voice recorded. I like to say I am paid to act, not watch myself act. Once the words are out of my mouth and off the page, my job is pretty much done I think!
I love my job, and I love the feedback we get for how quirky our show is, how hard we work, and how much we touch people. Keep watching and thanks for all of the Big Bang love!