Throwback to the 1970s – In the Audience of Comedy TV Shows

From “The Big Bang Theory- Live Show Taping” – YouTube

Today’s post is a throwback – to the 1970s.

I have always been fascinated by the entertainment industry. In the mid-1970s, I took my vacation in Los Angeles multiple times, my opportunity to see productions being made. My primary goal was to be in the audience of comedy shows (as in “… filmed before a live audience”). I think it was my first time on a working set.

Tickets were complimentary, but did not guarantee admittance, so we had to line up early. However, those from out of town (like me) were given preferential treatment.

Comedies I attended included some of the biggest hits of the time …

Mary Tyler Moore, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time , plus other shows which names I cannot recall.

The technical aspects of the production was what really attracted my attention. Some shows were video-taped, others filmed. These were all multi-camera, which is commonplace for shows with a live audience. Other shows on TV are done single camera.

The session for a taped show was recorded in practically real time; almost like watching a play. There were two separate sessions for each episode, with two different audiences; the best from both would be edited together for the final product. The stage typically had 3 static sets (such as 3 different rooms in a house). One camera is active at a time (red light on); TV monitors were in place.

The session for the filmed show took longer. There are stops and starts. While there may be multiple sets on the stage, there may be some rearrangement on a set or walls between sets may have to be moved. All cameras are filming simultaneously, so combining has to be done in editing. There was no monitor to view.

I noticed that set side walls were usually at an angle which increased visibility for the audience.

Occasionally a second take on a scene would be required, but that was extremely rare.

Everyone had to work together – the actors on their marks and the camera operator aiming the camera at the proper location, and the boom operator keeping the boom microphone and its shadow out of the frame – like a choreographed dance!

Prior to shooting, someone would come out to warm up the audience. In addition, we got to ask questions to cast members.

These are very fond memories. I have not been back to Los Angeles in a very long time.

Please provide feedback or questions in the Comments.  I would really enjoy hearing from you.


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