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I went to a Big Bang Theory filming!

One of my favorite TV series ever, The Big Bang Theory, is filmed in front of a live studio audience. For years, I'd thought it would be incredibly fun to go watch a filming of the show in person but, because the show is extremely popular, tickets to Big Bang Theory filmings are hard to come by. I stalked the tvtickets.com website (the website where, at the time of this writing, the general public can get free tickets to Big Bang Theory filmings), but both the "guaranteed" tickets and the standby tickets were always sold out.

Then, one Saturday evening, as I scanned the tvtickets.com Show Schedule page (I don't "have a life," but I'm okay with that), I noticed that Big Bang Theory standby tickets were not marked as sold out for that Tuesday's show. It had to be a mistake. I clicked through anyway, filled out the ticket order form, clicked the submit button, and...

Success! I couldn't believe it! My ticket appeared on the screen! I printed it out and clicked the back button. I filled out the order form again, this time with a friend's name, and clicked the submit button. Success again! We were in! Well, not exactly. These were just standby tickets.

The Big Bang Theory is filmed at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank, California. On September 27th, 2011, my friend and I arrived at Warner Bros. Studios' Gate 3 parking garage an hour and a half before the 6:30 PM show time. There were already a bunch of people with standby tickets lined up on benches. A security officer checked our photo IDs and stamped our hands with an invisible (unless you have a blue light) Warner Bros. handstamp. Audience coordinators from Audiences Unlimited gave us check-in numbers. And then, we waited.
Welcome to Warner Bros. Studios sign inside the Gate 3 parking garage at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California where The Big Bang Theory is filmed
At about a half-hour before showtime, the audience coordinators started counting off people in the standby line. I held my breath, hoping they would have enough seats in the audience for us. I watched as they slowly counted people off, a few at a time. Then they stopped before coming back to count off a few more. Our chances weren't looking good.

But then, the audience coordinator counted off just a few more people ... including my friend and me! Jubilantly, my friend and I crossed the street and joined a queue at the pedestrian entrance for Gate 2 of Warner Bros. Studios. We walked through metal detectors, and our bags were searched. Then we entered the lot!

We were led past soundstages that sported plaques listing when the soundstage had been built and some of the movies and TV shows that had been filmed there. We finally stopped outside The Big Bang Theory's stage, Soundstage 25, which, according to its plaque, had been built in 1935.

Inside the well-air-conditioned (ie. freezing cold) stage, we were directed to the audience bleachers where we were shown to the last of the empty seats. [Note: Due to increased popularity of Big Bang Theory tapings, it would now be extremely unlikely to be admitted as a standby ticket holder arriving as close as we did to showtime.] Waiting on our chairs were programs that listed the names of the cast, director, and producers, and had bios of the stars of the show.
Cover of the program that we received when we attended a filming of The Big Bang Theory
On the TV monitors in front of us, an episode that had already been filmed, but hadn't aired yet, was more than halfway over. I watched with rapt attention. As soon as the episode was over, the warm-up guy, Mark Sweet, introduced us to the cast and some of the producers, including the famous Chuck Lorre. The audience leapt to their feet to applaud.

That night's episode was called "The Good Guy Fluctuation." It was their season 5 Halloween episode (episode 7). The first scene was "pre-taped." It had some special effects, including a small explosion; I imagine that was the reason that it was pre-taped. While we watched the pre-recorded scene on the monitors, our laughter was recorded using microphones above our heads.

The set for the next scene, the Comic Book Store, was at the far end of the soundstage, so again we could only really watch the scene on the monitors. This time, since they were filming the scene live, cameras were rolling. We could hear a woman say, "Apple... take one... cameras A, B, C, and X... common mark." The slate clapped. The director commanded, "Action." The scene began.

The first take was funny and seemed perfect, but after the actors consulted with the director and producers, they shot the scene again. In the second take, the actors made a few small changes to their delivery and dialogue. It was fun to see a slightly different variation of the scene. After about two full takes and a "pick-up" (small portion of the scene) or two, a man's voice announced, "Moving on."

In between takes and scenes, Mark (who has been working on the show ever since the pilot episode!) introduced us to members of the audience who were given the opportunity to dance, sing, or demonstrate other "talents." We met audience members from all over the world (including India, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada). One woman sang a song in her native language; even the crew seemed to find her song enchanting. Another man sang an original homage to The Big Bang Theory.

The show has a DJ, Ken Millen, who played music when they weren't filming. I liked his choice of songs. Apparently actor Johnny Galecki did too. A few times, I spotted Johnny dancing (very well) to the music.

My friend and I were seated right in front of the Penny's Apartment set. When it came time to shoot a scene there, the camera crew brought in four big cameras and arranged them to get all of the different shots during a single take. We watched the hair and makeup people "touch up" the actors. Then a woman clapped the slate, the director called, "Action." This time, we had a very good view of the action, and so we watched the actors on the set rather than on the monitors.

When the director said, "Cut," the crew went to work, resetting the set. Since Penny (Kaley Cuoco) was pouring wine during the scene, they wheeled over a cart stocked with clean wine glasses and a bottle of grape juice (at least that's what it looked like) and quickly replaced and refilled everything so that, for each take, it looked like Penny was doing things for the first time.
As the night wore on, I never lost interest in the filming, even though every scene was performed at least twice. The writing, the acting, and the funny changes to the dialogue kept my attention. Also, there was an energy inside the soundstage. I'd never watched The Big Bang Theory with so many Big Bang Theory fans. That was really special!

The final scene, the "tag,", was perfect! Just one take and they were done. The filming took a total of about three hours, but I could have watched for many more.

As we funneled out of the soundstage and through the Warner Bros. lot, security officers and representatives from Audiences Unlimited thanked us for coming. Since we hadn't been allowed to bring cameras onto the lot, my friend and I left only with our memories and the show program, our "proof" that we'd been part of a Big Bang Theory studio audience.
Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California Gate 2 at night after a Big Bang Theory taping

I did this on September 27th, 2011 in Burbank, California, USA.

~ Jen (California, USA)


Jen is also known as J.W. Lynne, a best selling author of twelve novels.
Check out her books on Amazon:

THE UNKNOWN: Eight kids learn the shocking reason why they were kidnapped.

ABOVE THE SKY: A girl lives in a world where touching her soulmate is forbidden.

WHAT HE DIDN'T TELL ME: A traumatized girl meets a boy with a horrible secret.

IF I TELL: A teen wonders if her father is a serial killer.

: A teen is locked in a bunker to take a simulated trip to the moon.

WILD ANIMAL SCHOOL: A girl falls in love with a boy at an exotic animal ranch.

KID DOCS: An experimental program turns kids into doctors.

**Not sure which book to choose? Visit our book recommendation page!**

**Jen's books are available on Kindle Unlimited.**

Besides reading books and dreaming up stories to write, Jen's favorite activities are singing along to musical theater soundtracks and hiking in California's beautiful parks.
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Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Hit the Red Carpet

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