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    Acting, writing, comedy, combining all three.
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  1. I like the Two Broke Jokes thing! I find the show intensely annoying - the rapturous joy from the studio audience whenever a character makes their first entrance, usually accompanied by some wisecrack; the woman who played Stifler's mum in American Pie with her kooky accent.... I could go on and on here but I can't keep avoiding doing some work for too long. I'd love to know what they give the studio audience to get them so hyper. At the TBBT taping we were given pizza and water (and sweets from Mark Sweet if we got pulled out between takes)... I suspect that the TBG audience are given Ritalin. And there's something about Kat Dennings' face - it's in her eyes, whenever she delivers a punchline, there's something in her eyes that I find strange. I'd like to think that perhaps she knows. As for E4, I agree completely. The Irish announcer with his scripted wisecracks... It's like being stuck in a shed with your younger brother's annoying mate. Trying too hard to be all youthful, when they're most likely answerable to producers who are my age. Still, there's some good comedy stuff on in the UK at the moment, mostly not on E4. Uncle, for one thing, is superb, and Nurse too. I'm very pleased to see Inside No 9 is back tomorrow as well. Sorry, American readers - look them up and see if you can get to watch them!
  2. Oh, don't mind me. I wasn't being entirely serious there. I just really can't stand TBG, and suspect its creation and continuing existence was designed to specifically annoy me. I've yet to come across a single person who actually likes it. You see, if the person at E4 who responded to my email had explained it like you just have, it would have made a lot more sense. But the 'down with the kids' nature of their response irked me! The sentence about complying with the US broadcast was the only gesture towards explaining by TBBT had been taken off. I'm not really a fan of most of E4's output, with one or two notable exceptions, TBBT being one, Drifters being another. I'm nearly 44, after all, although I consider myself to be young at heart, but I find myself increasingly baffled by popular culture and TV aimed at young people. I mean, look at them, with their stupid trousers and ridiculous haircuts, and that upward cadence at the end of every sentence that makes it sound like a question even though it isn't. How dare they be all young and vibrant!
  3. I was at the taping of this episode so I was looking forward to seeing the finished product. I've detailed the experience of attending the taping in a previous post, so pop over there if you fancy a read. It was quite an experience. It took a lot longer than expected for it to be shown here in the UK, what with E4 being as crap as they are, taking the series off the air for several weeks for no discernible reason so they can show Two Broke Girls instead. Do you anyone who actually likes Two Broke Girls? I don't. It's really, really bad. Loud, brash, deeply annoying.... Just shite, basically. I actually wrote an email of complaint to E4, and their response was that they'd taken BBT off the air "to comply with the US broadcast", which was meaningless nonsense. I said so in my reply, but they never got back to me. Ah well. That's 'youth' broadcasters for you. But I digress. It's a great episode and hangs together really well, the ensemble scenes mixing nicely with the two/three handers - this struck me at the taping, and it was interesting to see on the night how the phone call between Penny at Amy's apartment and Leonard at the lab was actually done 'live', so to speak. Also how a couple of lab scenes were pre-recorded for obvious reasons - marshalling a live pigeon at a taping would have presented all sorts of problems, for instance. I was puzzled to see how a couple of really great gags were cut too. There was one from the cold open where Raj scolds the gang for talking about comic books after he's been talking about his parents' divorce. But the big one, which got huge laughs on the night (and they did three takes of it, if memory serves), involved Raj's dad. At Amy's apartment, Raj's dad laments the demise of his marriage and, after Amy tells him about Emily, talks about how for years he and his wife thought Raj would never settle down with a woman and had thought he might be gay. Amy lets it slip about the night Raj spent with Penny (who is mortified at this coming out) a few years previously, at which Raj's dad takes out his phone, calls his wife and says, "Look, I know you and I hate each other right now, but you'll never guess who our son did!" This got such a massive laugh on the night, and I was surprised it didn't make to the final edit. Perhaps it was cut for timing purposes, but it's a shame it's not in there. There are a couple of other bits that didn't make the final edit, but I guess that's the way with every episode - cuts have to be made here and there in order to make the running time. I'm sure other members have examples of jokes that went down well at a taping not making the final cut. Still, it's a great episode. A slight break from the more usual format, and the gift-giving scene was really quite touching. And nailed in a single take too.
  4. I'm back in the UK now, jetlagged to soddery and rather missing the US after my adventures there. My top tip: if visiting San Francisco, do NOT stay in the Tenderloin area... Properly scary!
  5. Oooh, that's good to hear! Thanks for your lovely word, everyone. Still can't quite believe it happened!
  6. Now that I'm finally within range of reliable wi-fi (in the dodgiest hotel in Tenderloin, San Francisco - now I know why it was so cheap. This is not a nice neighbourhood. I daren't step outside after dark!), I can elaborate on my experience on Tuesday. Firstly, I'd like to extend my deepest thanks to MichyGeary, Kazzie, Tomasina and the others, especially Justin who I sat next to in the guaranteed line and the studio itself. You were all very kind, friendly and accommodating. It made the experience for this solo visitor infinitely more enjoyable than it might have been if I'd just turned up without the assurance of people who I "knew" being there. That's largely why I signed up to this forum, and I'm so glad I did. There's something about the shared experience of being in line with other fans, like-minded people, be it for this show or for anything else, that makes it more special and memorable. So thank you all for that! What it's actually like to be in line throughout the day has already been covered by a few people, so there's nothing much I can add that hasn't already been said. And Michy's written a very detailed report of the taping itself, so there's nothing I can add to that either. So I'll just stick to what my experience was. In a word: unforgettable. It was one thing seeing the set during the VIP Tour a week and a half ago. It was quite another thing sitting in the audience waiting for the taping to start and feeling the atmosphere growing. After having seen every episode dozens of times in the UK (E4 show repeats of several episodes daily), knowing that it's made in some legendary studio thousands of miles away, knowing that it's the biggest sitcom in the world, that tickets to tapings are ridiculously hard to come by... Well, it's almost like it comes from another world that will always be completely out of reach. I only ever get to see the finished product. The idea of actually being there to see it being made just seems so unreal when you're sat at home in London. Hollywood is worlds away from my little flat in Roehampton with the noisy neighbours. For reasons I've explained in my post about the VIP Tour, I actually ended up in Hollywood, and not only that, but with a ticket to see a taping. I still can't quite believe I managed to pull that off. So, to actually be sitting in the audience, with the set I've seen on TV so many times in front of me (albeit largely concealed behind black screens), and the cast being introduced and appearing in the actual flesh just feet in front of me was such a joy. As each one appeared my smile got bigger and bigger. I mean, I'm an actor - I've worked with people who are famous. I've spent time with people I've seen a lot on TV and whose work I've admired, and you have to get past any fanboy nonsense when you're in that kind of situation or you just won't be able to work effectively. Nonetheless, there they were, right in front of me, and there I was, still not quite believing I was actually there too. And it just got better. After the first take of the cold open, the cast and crew spent a few minutes working through some changes to the script before going for another take. So Mark Sweet, the warm-up man, has to keep the audience entertained while this is going on. He asked people to put their hands up if they were big fans of the show. He might have asked if we were fans who had travelled a fair distance to be there, I can't quite remember, because the next thing I knew he was asking me to come down to the front. As I said earlier, I'm an actor. I'm also in a comedy sketch group (see the shameless plug below and please visit the website), so I like making people laugh. I can handle being in front of an audience. So, of course, I'm happy to come and share the limelight for a few minutes. And given the fact that I am where I am, and that the cast are a few feet away from me, I couldn't be happier that all of a sudden I've kind of become part of the show, even if it isn't the part of the finished product. Of course it appeals to the show-off in me, and what better place for it to happen?! I can't quite recall what followed word for word, it's kind of a blur, so here's the essence of what I can remember. Mark asks me my name and where I'm from. I say, "My name's Rick and I'm from Manchester in the UK". It gets a nice cheer. He asks me what I do, and I tell him I'm an actor. He asks me how it's going, and I tell him it's not going so well in the UK and that's why I've come to Hollywood. He tells me that perhaps I might get spotted tonight and that I might end up in the show some day. I tell him that would be fantastic. He asks me about Manchester, so I mention my northern accent and how it differs from the more familiar English accent in that our vowel sounds are more defined, or, as I put it, "We have proper vowels in the north". He asks me to give an example, so I use the word "up" and demonstrate how much harder the vowel sound is, coaching him as he attempts it. There's some badinage and good-natured mockery, and the audience seem to like how I'm playing along - we're getting some good laughs. He seems to recognise that the audience are responding well to me and he's very good at making the most of it, without at any point being in any way mean in his gentle mockery. He's very, very good at his job, and although I can feel myself shaking as I'm a bit nervous "performing" with the cast of my favourite sitcom only a few feet away (even though they're engaged in working through the changes to the script and were most likely oblivious to anything else, although I'd like to think at least one of them might have been watching), I'm enjoying our interaction and the response from the audience. Yes, I have an ego. There, I've said it! There's a moment where, in response to a question from him about being in America (I can't remember specifically what he said), I start to say something about the fact that Americans are largely descended from English colonists, then quickly stop myself as I realise with some horror that if I actually say that, there's a very real chance that some people might find that offensive, and things might get a little sour. What on Earth was I thinking??!! Jesus Rick, what's wrong with you??!! I ask myself. I think I managed to rescue it and bring it around, it seemed that way anyway, so thankfully disaster is averted. And, mercifully, the word is given that they're ready to go for another take so Mark wraps things up and I go back to my seat before the cold open is shot again with a couple of changed lines. Pleasingly, as the taping goes on, he refers back to the whole "up" thing several times and pulls me out again later for a dating game. And he gives me a cast photo too. I know this may sound like a self-indulgent exercise in patting my own back. "Look everyone! Read all about what I did in front of the audience at a Big Bang Theory taping! Oooh, aren't I great?!" That's not what I want to put across. It's simply that, as if just being there wasn't delightfully surreal enough, that happened. I found myself giving the studio audience of The Big Bang Theory a crash course in the finer points of the linguistics of northern English dialect while the cast reworked a scene a few feet away. There's surreal and then there's this. I mean, what the... Really...??!! Being at the taping was special enough, I was more than happy with that, but to find myself playing a small part in the overall process of putting a show together, albeit the peripheral aspect of keeping the audience going when there's a pause in the proceedings, well, how much better could it possibly have got? It's a long way to travel from my little flat in Roehampton with the noisy neighbours. So, thanks to Mark for indulging me the way he did. He could have shut me down very quickly if he'd wanted to (some might say he should have!), but he was good enough to go with it for a little while and make the experience even more special. I'll never forget it.
  7. I had an amazing time!! Huge thanks to MichyGeary, Kazzie and Tomasina in particular, as well as a couple of others whose screen names I didn't get, for being so nice and welcoming. The taping was enormous fun, and I got pulled out by Mark the warm up guy and ended up giving the audience a few tips on the Lancashire accent while the cast reworked the first scene. Great fun and an unforgettable experience! I'll provide a more detailed account later on, but I need to catch a train to San Francisco first. Thanks again to everyone!
  8. I'm just having a bowl of Fruit Loops and I'll be on my way too....
  9. Lovely stuff. Looking forward to meeting you all!
  10. I'm all set for tomorrow. It nearly got derailed about an hour ago after some drunk guy tried to start a fight with me on Sunset Boulevard ("Hey white boy! I don't like you! I'm gonna fight you! Let's scrap!") but I managed to walk away unscathed as he followed me shouting threats and slowly falling back. Ooh, the glamour of Hollywood! So, refresh my memory... Who's going to the taping tomorrow and when do you expect to get there? I may bring Haribo.
  11. Woohoo indeed! I made sure o prime our excellent guide. Yes, it is surreal walking in there. The stage is very large, but the living room set is smaller than it looks on TV. Quite an experience being there though. For me, almost on a par with stepping on to the bridge of the Enterprise or the Tardis console room.
  12. Ah, yes. Right you are! Sorry about that.
  13. Thanks for all the positive comments. As promised, here are some photos. None of the BBT set, obviously, as photos aren't allowed, but there is some very cool stuff... Oh, and it turns out that they shot 'V' there in the early 80s. I loved 'V'. Double nerdgasm.
  14. As requested, I thought I'd lay down my impressions of the VIP tour I did today. I've been in Los Angeles for just over a day now. It's my first ever trip to the states (waited until I'm 43, but finally I've made it over), and I'm with a group doing a week of acting workshops and masterclasses. After a long flight and jarring 8 hour time difference that made a long day even longer, I barely slept last night as my brain was telling me that it was much later than it was. I've been warned about the fakery and superficiality of Hollywood so I'm nobody's fool and won't be taken in by anyone or anything, and having made that clear I can still say with absolute certainty that the waitress at Hooters on Hollywood Boulevard last night was definitely into me. A few of us had booked on to the VIP tour, so we took the bus from the bottom of the street our hotel is on, and it took roughly 20 minutes to get there. It also served as a useful dry run for coming to the taping on November 18th, as the bus went right past the stop I need - MichyGeary's photo guide was absolutely spot on. Two stops on takes you to the VIP tour. It was a very hot day, unseasonably so, I gather, which is quite a shock to the system to a pasty Brit like me. Lathered in Factor 30 sunscreen, the heat was quite intense, so staying in the sun for too long got uncomfortable very quickly. Anyway. The tour. After going through a security screening, you start in the gift shop, and are taken through in to a screening room to be shown a short 'best of' collection of classic Warners productions through the ages. Well, I say classic... the Green Lantern film is included, which would suggest the current film was introduced around 2011 and the inclusion of Green Lantern was an optimistic gesture. But no matter. We were led to a golf cart and taken around a series of backlot sets that were used in various films - the helicopter heist in Ocean's 13, for example, the alleyway in which Spiderman and Mary Jane had their upside down kiss, the orphanage from the original Annie, to name but a few. Out tour guide, Sara, was friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable - the minimum requirement, you might say, but having done Sara's job many years ago at Granada Studios Tour in Manchester (it was a theme park based around Granada TV productions, the centrepiece being Coronation Street, the UK's longest-running soap which has a purpose-built exterior set), I know how difficult it can be. The amount of knowledge you have to learn, being able to answer pretty much any question a guest might ask you (which also means being able to deal with the token smart-arse whose goal is to throw you off and ask the most awkward questions in order to confuse you and make you look stupid), the requirement to be able to think on your feet and handle immediate changes to the tour when a message comes over the radio that this or that area is now off-limits due to filming, and of course having to deal with guests whose grasp of the difference between fiction and reality is a little loose. No, really. The sheer amount of people I took on tours who seemed to genuinely believe the storylines in Coronation Street were real-life events and that the actors were the characters, and who couldn't quite handle the revelation that there was nothing behind the doors and windows, that the Rover's Return wasn't a real pub in which you could go and have a pint with the characters.... Well, it was staggering and made me fear for the future of humanity. But I digress. The point it's taken me a while to illustrate is that being a tour guide isn't easy, especially on a site as vast and with so rich a history as the Warner Brothers lot. So full marks to Sara for making it look as easy as she did, because it really isn't. We moved indoors to a very, very cool Batman room. It's Batman's 75th anniversary so they're giving him a lot of coverage on the VIP tour, and it's well worth a look. All the suits, a lot of props and costumes, all within touching distance. Although you can't touch them. They really don't like you doing that. Upstairs is the Harry Potter room. Now, the Harry Potter films were all made in the UK, and Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, where the films were made, has now been turned in to a permanent exhibit with several standing sets from the films and a lot of props and costumes. So I can't say whether or not what I saw were the actual props and costumes, but they probably were - they made a lot of them, after all. But have a look at the Hermione dummy used in Chamber of Secrets - it's so lifelike it's creepy. During this stopover I took the opportunity to ask Sara if perhaps we might be visiting the Big Bang Theory set, explaining that I'm a big fan of the show and that I'll be attending a taping on November 18th. She seemed impressed that I'd managed to get a ticket, and said that it was entirely possible that we might visit the set, with a knowing look that told me that my bringing it up had ensured that we would be. Obviously I was very pleased about this. Not only because we'd definitely be visiting it, but also because I'd eliminated the possibility of us visiting the sets of Two Broke Girls or Melissa and Joey, shows which I find annoying in the extreme. We Brits are a bit more subtle with our comedy, you see... we like beats and nuance rather than battering the audience over the head with the joke, which the aforementioned shows do in spades, so being the magnanimous sort that I am I didn't want our group to visit the set of a show I can't stand. It was very thoughtful and generous of me, but I'll not go on about it. So, back in the golf cart and away we went to... Well, the names on the parking spaces gave it away. And I started to get excited. As we were led through the door, the first thing you see is a display cabinet on the wall containing some notable props from the show. Sheldon's Doppler Effect suit, Howard's kissing machine and a couple of others. And then a swing set that was being used for the episode about to be taped, which Sara enigmatically described as "someone's house". Another swing set that was "someone's apartment", which looked a little scuzzy and depressing, with an old tube TV. Penny's apartment wasn't there, having been replaced with an office set, which I think might have been Doctor Gabelhauser's office. The hallway set was packed with the folding chairs of all the production staff. And there was Sheldon and Leonard's apartment! Smaller than you'd think, but there it was, with the furniture covered in large white sheets to keep the dust and pigeon droppings at bay. It's quite a thing to see the set on which so many memorable moments have been played out right in front of you, and despite my 43 years I turned in to an unashamed fanboy. To the right of it was a restaurant set, quite large. We weren't allowed on to the set itself, and neither were we allowed to take photographs. It was explained that this was due to the sets being copyrighted to Warner Brothers, which I don't necessarily understand given the number of photos I've seen of fans on set visits, but I certainly wasn't going to dispute it. I was just happy to be there. And I don't buy this "Photo or it never happened" mentality you find on Facebook etc these days. So we sat in the audience seats as Sara explained the process of taping the show, how the sound crew have their own box of tricks of mixing out audience members who arrive having cultivated a distinctive laugh in the hope of being heard on the soundtrack, how jokes are rewritten and played any number of different ways in order to get the best response. All very interesting, and all the more so because I'll be seeing all this take place in ten days' time. We were then taken to a variety of other sets - Selfie, which has apparently just been cancelled (and which I've never heard of, but it apparently stars Karen Gillan from Doctor Who), and was quite labyrinthine, and Ellen, which was huge. Very impressive. And with a pleasing scent of cinnamon. Usually TV sets smell of recently sawn wood, so cinnamon was a nice change. And then.... A very large room full of all kinds of awesome. It was back to Batman, this time all the Batmobiles and other Bat-vehicles, with the notable exception of the original 1960s Batmobile. A minor disappointment, but when faced with not one but two Tumblers, the Batpod, two Batcycles, several iterations of the Batmobile, the statue from The Dark Knight Rises and the Bat Signal, you get over it very quickly. It really is quite something. Then it was off to the permanent exhibit of the Central Perk set from Friends. Photo on the sofa? Of course! And that was pretty much it. We were driven back to the gift shop, where I treated myself to a t-shirt proclaiming Sheldon's lament of "I cry because others are stupid and it makes me sad" (more socially acceptable than the t-shirt I own which says "No, I didn't see the X-Factor because I am not a fucking moron", as well as the one which says "No offence, but you are a dickhead" - true sentiments, to be sure, but can encourage the people at which they are aimed to punch me in the face). I also bought a Warner Bros baseball cap and "Bazinga!" mug. There's all sorts of franchise-related merchandise in there from a variety of Warner Bros shows and films, but I'm on a budget. I'd definitely recommend the tour - it's well worth the $54, especially as we overran by a long time because we were obviously such a good group that Sara wanted to spend more time with us. And I'd also recommend asking the guide if you can visit the Big Bang Theory set, because it definitely isn't a sure thing and if you don't ask, you don't get. And if you've travelled all the way from the UK you want to stack the odds in your favour! I'll try and post some photos tomorrow, but right now I need to get to bed as the jet lag is starting to get the better of me once more...
  15. I'm ahead of you there! VIP tour report coming up. But in short, yes I was and yes we did!
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