For those of you who are looking for a great sitcom to watch endlessly on DVD as the weather turns cold (sort of), I highly recommend CBS's The Big Bang Theory. And it's not just because one of the lead characters is a Cheesecake Factory working actress with a bunch of humorous and adorkable friends. There's something about the way the characters are so well thought out and executed that draws me in. The show definitely builds on itself (You must watch it from the beginning - it's like Arrested Development or HIMYM) - once you start to understand the recurring jokes, the funnier the show becomes. But what's most enticing about this sitcom, is the sense of ensemble you feel while watching the show. I love thinking about ensembles at work. When I watch reruns of Friends, I often think to myself, those are six lucky people. They get to work day in and day out with a group of people they understand, trust, and excel at their craft with. What could be better?
And that's what I see when I watch Big Bang. This group of friends who goes to work every day to have some fun and make some entertainment. Sometimes when I consider what it's like to work in a medium other than live theatre, I wonder how the actors do it without the audience. I was recently having a debate with someone about whether or not acting for film or acting for theatre are one skill set or two. I am (was?) of the camp that they're two different skill sets (much in the same way that auditioning and acting are two different skill sets). But, Best Friend, I'm beginning to think that I stand corrected. A quiet house is an obstacle for even the most experience actors (and sometimes fatal for those who are just starting out) but it never occurred to me that one could have that same experience on a sitcom where, let's face it, the point is to make us regular folk forget about our humdrum lives, financial issues, and broken hearts and lift our spirits for 30 minutes at a time.
My favorite character is quickly becoming Mayim Bialik's, Amy Farrah-Fowler. (Gee, that name's familiar you say? Well for TGIF fans out there, she was TV's Blossom as a teenager.) Like the members of The CoLab, Mayim (I feel like we're on a first name basis since her status updates appear in my FB news feed), blogs on a regular basis about a number of things, including her stint on Big Bang. And interestingly enough, tv actors HAVE NOT forgotten about the importance of laughter when it comes to camera work, and even more importantly, they haven't forgotten about the importance of trust and ensemble. As she puts it,
"Working alongside two-time Emmy winner Jim Parsons is unlike working with anyone I have shared a stage with. He and I go about our work very similarly, from how we view our characters’ idiosyncrasies, to how we execute them. Jim and I also seem to agree–all of this is unspoken–that no amount of preparation all week can brace you for the lovable beast that is a live studio audience. You can’t really know how to play a scene until you can hear the audience gasping, giggling, laughing, and hesitating; breathing with you as you breathe and feel the nuances of your character. The way the failed seduction/cuddle scene shook down on your TV screens was, for me, different by eons from how it played all week in rehearsal."
And this has definitely got me thinking (once again), that the reason I'm uncomfortable doing film is because I don't understand it. I don't nearly have enough on camera experience to form a judgement about what it's like to act either way. I know that I'm a stage-lover, but if you really have the right scene partner... okay. I'm not sold on it yet. I'm not sure that ANYTHING will replace my love for the instant gratification of audience laughter, pain, confusion but this week I'm considering Mayim's thoughts regarding on screen acting.
If you're interested in reading more I highly recommend the rest of the article which can be found here. And if all you want to do is see that ensemble-audience dynamic first hand, there's plenty of live theatre happening in Boston this weekend. Go enjoy it!
Happy Watching... I mean Weekend, Folks!