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California Dreamin’

December 28, 2011

Just got back from my first trip to Tinseltown, an appropriate name given I was there Christmas week.

Not for business, just a touristy thing.

Warners Bros studio tour – great. Cirque du Soleil IRIS show – amaze balls!!! (and John Stamos was there too – that guy is ridiculous handsome, one look in his eyes and I… sorry, drifted off there – now I know what it feels like to be a UFO abductee or one my roofied Craigslist dates).

But by far, the best experience was a taping of 2 Broke Girls. Not because I’m a fan (I prefer single cam comedies) but to watch the process, up close, from two rows back.

It was a ‘special episode’, Valentine’s Day. I wanted to hear myself on TV, so I tried to laugh really loud at the lamer jokes, but it turns out that America loves them, so I was always drowned out (only now do I realize that maybe my taste in humor is out of sync with the majority, which is why I’m here typing a blog and not working in LA – world… crashing… illusions… shattered – let me have a moment…)

Okay, took my St. John’s Wart and Ginseng – not really working, but it is fun typing with an erection – though really slow.

Anywho…

As for the show, I spent less time watching the actors than observing the staff, particularly the showrunner, director and writers. Which I’m sure was scary for them – I caught several of them looking at me when the rest of the crowd was watching the show. I’m sure the mixture of drool and envy was not pretty.

Observations from this show:

– just as you expect, all the key people crowded the monitors during every take – and frequently looked into the audience to see how we were really reacting

– on this set, the showrunner (Michael Patrick King) was incredibly involved during taping – directing as much as the actual director and changing up jokes on the fly (or so it appeared)

– when they finished their primary take (and safety), they often did a single of an alternative joke, which for me, was always the funniest one – don’t know if this was for the show or just to keep the audience involved – would love to get an answer on that

– speaking of involved – the show took almost 6 hours to tape – the warm up guy really worked the crowd to keep them ‘up’ for the entire show – that role is really unsung, because with seating worse than a cut-rate airline, I would have fallen asleep, mostly due to asphyxiation

– there was a mixture of twenty-something writers (one asian male, one white female) and several 30/40 something writers, mostly women – no African Americans though – could not tell which ones were the permies and which were the consultants (not much info on IMDB to help)

– I loved playing the game of who wrote what joke or scene. I could usually tell it was theirs by the intensity of involvement when watching the scene or laughter at their own material – and their non-interest when it wasn’t. Only a few times did I observe back slapping when a joke landed, or the scene worked. Or when the showrunner’s joke landed – lots of congrats when that happened. Guess that’s the competitive part of being on a writing team

– both the crew and cast were losing their focus towards the end – a lot more flubs, slow setup, excessive talking/giggling prior to the next shot – this is the same experience I’ve had on many short film sets – nice to know the big leagues have the same problem

– Kat Dennings, the most experienced actress on set, was much more comfortable pushing back on the director/showrunner or giving the other actor’s notes between takes – while for the other actors, they took more of a back seat to the process

I think the best thing I took away from this was how much my own film experience (multiple short films here in Balto the last seven years, as producer/writer/director/pa) was similar to what I observed in LA. Makes me less intimidated and feel more prepared for a career in film or TV.

As fun as this was, I left LA with a real sense of longing, sitting within literal feet of the job I so desire. If only I had that shapeshifting device from Fringe to swap places with one of those writers – of course, I would need mercury blood and the writer would have to be murdered, but that’s a trade-off in this biz, at least according to the movie The Player.

Oh well. I consider this trip another step on the ladder, just don’t know if it’s going up or down yet 🙂

 

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