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I went to a filming of Two and a Half Men!

Two and a Half Men poster outside Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California
Two and a Half Men is filmed in front of a live audience, and I thought it would be fun to attend a filming. I've been watching Two and a Half Men for years. I've watched Jake Harper grow from a "half-man" to "whole-man." And so, when I saw free tickets to the show available on tvtickets.com, I quickly clicked through and got tickets for me and a friend.

About one month later, on April 5th, 2012, I arrived at the Warner Bros. Studios' Gate 3 parking garage in Burbank, California, two and a half hours before the 7 PM showtime. A security officer directed me to park in the structure and then walk just outside the parking structure where security officers would direct me to a waiting area.

The warm southern California sun beat down on me as I took my place in a line of about fifty people. In front of me were two girls from Norway, behind me, a couple from Chicago. My friend joined me. And we waited.

At about two hours before showtime, we were escorted by Audiences Unlimited representatives into another waiting area, inside the parking structure. Our IDs were checked, our tickets were taken, and we were handed numbered passes. A security officer stamped our hands with a Warner Bros logo stamp, that was only visible under blue light.

About a half hour after we sat down on the long benches, we were escorted toward Gate 2 of the Warner Bros. Studios lot.
Gate 2 of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California
Security officers asked us to empty our pockets, checked people's bags, and led us through metal detectors. Then we we filed past soundstages and movie trailers to Stage 26. On our way, we caught a small glimpse of the studio's cool backlot. It looked a New York City street. It was strange to see what looked like a real street without any cars or people.

After one final chance to use the restrooms, we passed through another metal detector and then entered the Two and a Half Men soundstage. The audience bleachers were about half full when we were directed to our seats, but they quickly filled to capacity.

About twenty minutes before showtime, the audience warm-up guy, Mark Sweet, directed our attention to the numerous TV monitors above our heads. The lights dimmed and an episode that had not yet aired on TV was played for us without any commercial interruptions.

Then Mark introduced the cast and the producers. Since my friend and I were in the second to last row, and the audience jumped to their feet when the introductions began, all that we saw were the tops of the actors' heads, if we were lucky. Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, and Ashton Kutcher waved above their heads, so at least we knew they were there. Note to self: if you ever star on a TV show with a live audience, wave over your head during the introductions so the people in the back have something to look at.

That night's episode was the final episode of season 9 (episode 24: Oh Look! Al-Qaeda!).

The crew moved big black barricades that had been blocking the set from view to reveal Walden's kitchen. A woman holding the slate said, "Cold open... take one... cameras A, B, C, and X... common mark." The filming began!

After a few takes of the first scene involving Alan and Jake, with an entrance by Walden (Ashton Kutcher) at the end of the scene, it looked like they had gotten what they wanted and were going to move on to the next scene. Ashton left the set.

A few minutes later, they decided to do the scene again. Jon and Angus played the scene just as they did before, but, this time, when Ashton made his entrance, he was completely naked except for a flesh-colored modesty pouch that had been enhanced with a super-sized addition to make it anatomically correct. The audience erupted in surprised laughter. We got one more chance to watch a take of the "nude" version of the scene before they moved on to the next one.

Between scenes and takes, DJ, Ken Millen, played music, and Mark, the warm-up guy, picked volunteers from the audience to stand up and dance, sing (in different languages), or make animal sounds. Mark rewarded their efforts with candy. One older gentleman, perhaps inspired by Ashton's appearance in the "cold open," pulled off his shirt to punctuate his dance performance. Mark promptly asked him to put it back on.

Mid-way through the filming, the people from Audiences Unlimited handed out a small bottle of water and a slice of pizza to everyone in the audience. The pizza was not even slightly warm, but we enjoyed it.

The Two and a Half Men filming finished up about two and a half hours after it began. Our evening might have been shorter than usual because more than half of the scenes had been "pre-taped" (recorded earlier) and were just played back for us on the monitors so that we could follow the story and they could record our laughter.

Of course, the live scenes were the most exciting to watch. It was interesting to see some of the jokes (and the wardrobe in the "cold open") change from take to take. It was also fun to watch the actors between takes, smiling and laughing with each other and with the producers. It looked like they were truly having a good time.

When the show was over, the actors took their final bows, including some actors who had only appeared in the pre-taped scenes. Again, my friend and I had to settle for looking at the tops of the actors' heads. Then Mark announced that Angus, who had been on the show since he was about nine years old and was now eighteen, was graduating from high school. A huge cake decorated with a large diploma was brought out and presented to Angus.

Our time at Two and a Half Men had come to an end. My friend and I made our way into the cool night air outside Stage 26. Security officers and Audiences Unlimited representatives directed us toward the parking structure and wished us goodnight.

It had been a good night. I'd enjoyed seeing the talented cast of Two and a Half Men in person, including a bit more of Ashton Kutcher than I'd bargained for. Not that I'm complaining!
Two and a Half Men poster outside Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California

I did this on April 5th, 2012 in Burbank, California, USA.

Thanks for reading!
~ Jen

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