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Unfunny Big Bang Theory

As a nerd (geek, dork? Spaz? All of the above?) I feel sort of obligated to watch "Big Bang Theory". It's a combination of the most typical possible sit-com formula - you know, three jokes a page, by-the-numbers gags and million-times-retread situations - and nerd culture. See, it's funny because the main characters are all brainy nerd-types (scientists, ha ha!) who don't know how to talk to girls. They're really awkward around girls! Ha ha!

But somewhere on their writing staff is someone who actually understands geek culture, because there's some fairly relevant zingers thrown in. I've born with it. Not for a good reason or anything, just...because. But the formula grates and the laugh track is incredibly intrusive. You know the formulate you've seen it a million times. It goes like this - straight line Nutty comment straight line questioning the nutty comment, gag . Nine times out of ten it's searingly unfunny. One in ten of the crap they throw at the wall sticks.

Then I read an article (elsewhere, lost it, or I'd link) about why women don't work as comedy writers very much, and part of it is apparently the incredibly abusive environment in the writing rooms. Comedy is hard, so they say, and the writers are constantly zinging each other in order to be funny. One of the writers talking about what a rough-house, blue, profane environment the writing room is was a writer from "Big Bang". This does not square with this show, which is so tediously not transgressive, I can't imagine what those knuckleheads are doing that they think they need to be brutal with each other for. So they bash on each other, make sexist remarks, humiliate each other...and what they come up with is ....this?

Because when you take the laugh track out, it's really stilted and weird. It's like "Garfield Without Garfield" - it just seems moderately insane, and incredibly awkward. It must be really hard on the actors, taking those awkward pauses without a studio audience to cue them for timing. Oh snap - maybe there IS a studio audience, and they're just not laughing? Man, what a soul-killing farce that would be!

One in a blue moon, "Big Bang" is pretty funny. But this little clip is a real insight into just how artificial and forced sit-coms are.


Feb. 6th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
According to the internetziens at TvTropes, BBT is filmed in front of a live studio audience. "Laugh Track: After every line, complete with pause, since it's the Studio Audience's actual laughter. People going to the tapings even say that they have to tone it down."

I still found it funny w/o the laughing, but much of that is due to Jim Parsons' delivery. I am a big Sheldon fan, as well as a big BBT fan. I love the super-little tiny jokes you'd miss out on if you weren't in computers or physics or academia. The academia jokes, in particular, are hilarious because they're true (engineers, Masters' students... at least in my grad student group here at school). Every time there's a string theory joke, it makes my day. I read every Greene, Kaku, Lederman, and Witten thing I could get my hands on in high school, so it's nice to be vaguely in the know.
.... Of course, for the most obscure jokes in math and physics, you'd have to be watching Futurama (WITTEN'S DOG ZOMG).

The comics beats were more obvious, but not a big deal for me. When I was in Rubber Chickens, "Truth in Comedy" was required reading, and we did training with Second City and UCB in NYC. I used to the rules of sketch-writing, so it's kind of like white noise for me. It's there, but I don't really notice.

Thanks for posting this. I never would have thought to look it up!! It makes our blizzard less boring :)
Feb. 6th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
I get all the in-jokes, too. I mean, I'm just a computer nerd, but I know my String Theory and computational physics, dangit. That's the *good* part of the show, the part where obviously one of the writers is "in the know" for real.

But the rest of the writers are typical borscht-belt "Three and a Half Men" hacks. No wonder the audience wasn't laughing.
Feb. 6th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
"But the rest of the writers are typical borscht-belt "Three and a Half Men" hacks."

Yeah. I liked 3 1/2 a few years back, and I wonder if it's past its prime.


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