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Old 11-17-2013, 07:50 AM   #1
Rob Helmerichs
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Bob Newhart weighs in on Big Bang Theory and laughtracks

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Chuck Lorre, the creator, had been after me a couple times to do various shows, but for one reason or another, we never got around to it. When he came to me in January for his annual turndown, I told him I’d do “Big Bang” if it was a recurring character that comes back a couple times and that it’s all in front of a live audience. That’s the only way I know how to do it. Laugh tracks turn me off. The acting is better when you know your material is being judged.
http://www.startribune.com/entertain...1&c=y#continue

(Hopefully you don't have to be a subscriber, which I am)
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Old 11-17-2013, 08:00 AM   #2
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I always wondered where the Emmy was when I went over to play Scrabble at Bob Newharts'.

Last edited by replaytv : 11-17-2013 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 11-17-2013, 09:20 AM   #3
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That's a fantastic article and even addresses the topic of "what is acting" from our other thread.

It's also nice to hear once again how well grounded Bob Newhart is.
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Old 11-17-2013, 09:55 AM   #4
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Great article.

And Bob's 84, and can still sell tickets for over $50 a pop for his shows. Talent endures.
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Old 11-17-2013, 10:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Helmerichs View Post
http://www.startribune.com/entertain...1&c=y#continue

(Hopefully you don't have to be a subscriber, which I am)
Great article, Rob! Thanks for sharing...
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Old 11-17-2013, 10:15 PM   #6
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I loved the Richard Pryor story.

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Old 11-18-2013, 08:00 AM   #7
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Good article. Laugh tracks suck.
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cheesesteak View Post
Laugh tracks suck.


I don't care how good the show it, or what it is about. I just cannot watch it if it includes a laugh track.
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:08 AM   #9
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And now we will all be trounced on by rabid fans about how there is no laugh track. It's just sweetened, Bob!
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Old 11-18-2013, 08:43 AM   #10
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For my part, I'm not even fond of the live studio audience laughter either. I mean, if you can wonder "is this a laugh track or isn't it?" then whatever's so terrible about one must still apply some to the other. My favorite sitcoms are almost always those which add no laughter at all.
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Old 11-18-2013, 09:30 AM   #11
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I used to wonder why people in the audience laugh at things that aren't really laugh-out-loud funny, and then I went to a couple of show tapings.

The shows I saw would film the same scene three times, slightly changing the joke. Sometimes the first time we would hear it would be funny, sometimes the third.

But there is something funnier when you see it live, and in a crowd. Like watching comedians on stage. Much funnier in person, IMO, than seeing it on TV.

So I am sure they pick and choose which part of the audience laughter they want to use.

The show 'Whitney' had a lot of complaints about the laugh-track, to the point that Whitney came out and repeatedly told anyone that would listen that it was filmed before a live audience.

I love how Bob spoke about people playing themselves, and having to memorize lines and hit marks.
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donbadabon View Post
I love how Bob spoke about people playing themselves, and having to memorize lines and hit marks.
Yeah, that touches on the point I tried to make in the BBT thread where this came up...if "playing yourself" were so easy, then you wouldn't have all these examples of celebrities playing themselves in a stiff, awkward way.

Acting is acting, even if you've only mastered one character (which a lot of actors do, but if they play that character well, why not?).
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunter Green View Post
For my part, I'm not even fond of the live studio audience laughter either. I mean, if you can wonder "is this a laugh track or isn't it?" then whatever's so terrible about one must still apply some to the other. My favorite sitcoms are almost always those which add no laughter at all.
I was just watching a clip from the final episode of Newhart (thanks to the link you provided in the BB Finale thread) and the live audience there is completely over the top and distracting. I rarely notice it on BBT.
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Old 11-19-2013, 05:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunter Green View Post
For my part, I'm not even fond of the live studio audience laughter either. I mean, if you can wonder "is this a laugh track or isn't it?" then whatever's so terrible about one must still apply some to the other. My favorite sitcoms are almost always those which add no laughter at all.
That is the best thing about animated humor like The Simpsons. No laugh track. I wish ALL sitcoms had no studio audience or laugh tracks. I find that the 'laughter' contrived as it happens even when there is nothing funny said or done. If it isn't needed for the Simpsons, why is needed for BBT?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laugh_track
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Old 11-20-2013, 12:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Helmerichs View Post
Acting is acting, even if you've only mastered one character (which a lot of actors do, but if they play that character well, why not?).
Tony Danza, come on down!


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Old 12-07-2013, 04:53 PM   #16
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Didn't want to start a new thread... Ken Levine had a Friday question about laugh tracks.

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I was at the Two and a Half Men recording yesterday. There were 7 pre-recorded scenes showed on the audience screens. I heard laughter on the sound track besides our audience laughter. Did those laughs come from the crew or a test audience during recording, were they added digitally, or did I just hallucinate?

They probably sweetened the scenes (i.e. used a temporary laugh track). Here’s why: when a studio audience reacts to a live performance the actors hold for the laughs. That way the audience doesn’t miss the next few lines. In pre-shooting scenes you have to build in those pauses in anticipation of laughs. So the temporary laugh track fills in those holes.

Also, pre-shot scenes don’t get the same level of laughter as live performances. They just don't. The temp laugh track can help prompt the audience a little.

On shows I’ve directed or produced I will sometimes pre-shoot a scene and instead of showing that, have the actors do a dummy version live on the stage. Example: a scene of two people in a car driving. Instead of showing the pre-shot scene I’ll just have the two actors sit in two card chairs and play the scene live. I don’t film it. Just record the audience. We then take the actual laughter and lay it in the pre-shot scene. I know. Sneaky, aren't we?
I've said it before, if you are into TV enough to be reading this, you should read his blog daily. http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:51 PM   #17
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No Laugh Track 1

No Laugh Track 2

No Laugh Track 3

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Old 12-07-2013, 06:47 PM   #18
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That's painful.
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:24 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by replaytv View Post
. If it isn't needed for the Simpsons, why is needed for BBT?
They tried filming the Simpsons in front of a live studio audience, but the animators' hands got tired.
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:03 PM   #20
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Don' cha wonder how they know how long to pause for the laugh? Must be a floor director out there with a countdown clock.

Nah. It's always 3,2,1 "line." 3,2,1 "Line!" 5,4,3,2,1
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