Everyone Knows You're A Hack
May 15, 2011 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Judd Apatow got into an e-mail argument with the creator of That 70s Show back in 2002
posted by The Whelk (110 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's funny to see Judd being contrite and reasonable, while Brazill practically has steam shooting out of his ears.

Also, "The Grungies" is even worse than I remember it being. Then again, the only funny thing I remember from The Ben Stiller Show was him playing grown-up Eddie Munster.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:03 PM on May 15, 2011


Why did this get published? It's somewhat funny in an inside-baseball kinda way but... is that it?
posted by GuyZero at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2011


This is kind of old, but it's interesting to read again after knowing how their respective careers turned out.

One of them hasn't done shit since this exchange.

The other is the biggest producer in hollywood.
posted by empath at 4:10 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it's really funny, but how did Harper's get it?
posted by scatter gather at 4:11 PM on May 15, 2011


Hmmm, what kind of salary or royalties or whatever does someone listed as " creator" typically get for a heavily syndicated show?
posted by The Whelk at 4:14 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get cancer.

Love,

Mark


...

I'll go back to my life of thievery and leeching. As for the cancer, I'll wait till you get it and then steal it from you.

This...this made me laugh out loud. The whole thing was worth it for this glorious, perfect joke.
posted by clockzero at 4:16 PM on May 15, 2011 [44 favorites]


Ugh, it's like high school all over again. Apparently even famous people need to learn how to disengage.
posted by muddgirl at 4:17 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for the cancer, I'll wait till you get it and then steal it from you.

Awesome.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:17 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck you clockzero, you stole that comment from me.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:18 PM on May 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Fuck you, nathancaswell!
posted by clockzero at 4:19 PM on May 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


ok seriously we need to work on the banter
posted by clockzero at 4:19 PM on May 15, 2011 [33 favorites]


Hmmm, what kind of salary or royalties or whatever does someone listed as " creator" typically get for a heavily syndicated show?

A lot. I have a friend of a friend who was a minor character on That 70s Show and is still living very comfortably off royalties. I was surprised by this as they weren't doing other commercial work. They've literally not worked since the show went off the air.

Brazill is producer of That 70s Show and Third Rock From the Sun, I'm sure he's doing much better than any of us will do. Both do very well in syndication.

Getting royalties off a long-running, heavily syndicated show is a gravy train.
posted by geoff. at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I enjoyed That 70s Show. Went on a season too long, and was a little hit or miss before then, but it was a funny show. Good characters and good stories.

I can't understand how the person who wrote these emails could have had an influence on it, let alone any kind of deciding say.
posted by kafziel at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2011


Hmmm, what kind of salary or royalties or whatever does someone listed as " creator" typically get for a heavily syndicated show?

Creators of teevee shows get a nice percentage of the money paid in a syndication deal. Not as much as the studio that produced the show, but it will still be far more than the creator made off of the first run of a series. And, assuming that the creator of the show is also the showrunner, any show that makes enough episodes to make it to syndication has already made the creator a nice chunk of change. But it's the syndication deal that will make a teevee writer wealthy. It's what creates incredible fortunes for people like Dick Wolf and Larry David.

(By the way, "created by" means you wrote the pilot.)
posted by Bookhouse at 4:25 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I didn't know Judd Apatow wrote Celtic Pride. I fucking love Celtic Pride! The Cable Guy also grew on me over the years.
posted by Redfield at 4:29 PM on May 15, 2011


Other than a need to get in the last word, I can't imagine there was a reason to let this go on as long as it did. Seriously, about halfway through, I wanted to know why Apatow would keep responding. He reached out to apologize to someone for something. The other guy not only refuses to accept the apology, but turns out to be an outraged ass. Sure, reply to the outright accusations, but after that, why keep it going? Why let some asshole take up even the amount of time it takes to write an email?

Life is full of enough shit, and comes with too little time, to spend actively putting more shit on your plate to eat.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:30 PM on May 15, 2011


TV syndication is not just a gravy train -- we're talking millions and millions of dollars. Depends on the contract, of course, but it is money on a level neither you nor I can even fathom.

A close friend was a famous, successful a-list screenwriter for feature films for a dozen years. We were drinking at 3 in the afternoon one Tuesday (hey, it's what writers do) when he told me about how he'd turned down the new Steven Spielberg movie in order to work on this spec TV pilot, something that had no guarantee of ever getting made.

"Uh, why would you do that?" I asked.

He looked at me as if I'd lost a tooth in my bourbon. "John," he said. "That's where the money is."

His third TV show got picked up last week.

Bad hollywood joke: How does a TV writer change the lightbulb? He pays a feature writer to do it for him.
posted by incessant at 4:31 PM on May 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow. I'd love to see the Yard Dog pilot, but Google isn't turning it up.
posted by salvia at 4:35 PM on May 15, 2011


The whole "By Judd Apatow and Mark Brazill" makes it almost seem like they submitted it themselves.
posted by stance at 4:36 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen this before (I think it was on a blog elsewhere and was linked from MeFi), but it was pretty funny. As to why Apatow keeps responding — when someone feeds you a straight line, you riff off of it. Also, it can be hard to not get the last word, especially if you think of yourself as funny. (Which is why I get pulled into stupid arguments with the LA Weekly on twitter.)

Finally, no, That '70s Show sucked ass unless you were so incomprehensibly high that you'd laugh at carpeting. That show's insistent, obvious laugh track alone means Brazill deserves prison.
posted by klangklangston at 4:37 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sure, reply to the outright accusations, but after that, why keep it going? Why let some asshole take up even the amount of time it takes to write an email?

I think it's probably hard to become successful in Hollywood without a strong sense of tenacity.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:38 PM on May 15, 2011


The 70s show got by on the considerable charisma of the kids on the show, really. It was pretty dreadful, most of the time.
posted by empath at 4:40 PM on May 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


He also did Heavyweights? Goddamn.
posted by Redfield at 4:41 PM on May 15, 2011


klangklangston: "I've seen this before (I think it was on a blog elsewhere and was linked from MeFi), but it was pretty funny."

The font on this version is a hell of a lot easier to read than the old one.
posted by gman at 4:43 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I look forward to "That '90s Show."

Ha! In your face, Brazill!
posted by dersins at 4:44 PM on May 15, 2011


Bad hollywood joke: How does a TV writer change the lightbulb? He pays a feature writer to do it for him.

As a TV writer I don't want to appear a bad sport, but I don't get this joke. Is there a trope among feature writers that TV writers don't do their own work?
posted by Bookhouse at 4:48 PM on May 15, 2011


As a TV writer I don't want to appear a bad sport, but I don't get this joke.

You must write for Leno.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:52 PM on May 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


As someone who's recently died in a fiery accident, and tasted my own blood, I find Mark Brazill's comments completely off-base and tasteless.

Sincerely,
Lipstick Thespian
Approaching the Pearly Gates,
Somewhere on I-95
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:52 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sitting in a theater drinking a beer, reading this thread, about to watch Bridesmaids. Brazill did that, right?
posted by The Potate at 4:54 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


You must write for Leno.

Now that's just cruel.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Mark Brazill needs to answer for what the hell was up with the timeline on That 70's Show. When that show started, I was younger than the characters but when the show ended I was suddenly older than the characters.

Fucker shouldn't have set the show so late in the 70s. The Star Wars episode was in season 1! That should have been saved for the epic series finale.
posted by riruro at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


By "that," I mean bridesmaids.
posted by The Potate at 4:56 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a TV writer I don't want to appear a bad sport, but I don't get this joke. Is there a trope among feature writers that TV writers don't do their own work?

I think it means TV writers tends to make more money than feature writers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:57 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


That show's insistent, obvious laugh track alone means Brazill deserves prison.

I always thought that was part of the schtick, like a CORNY JOKE - *LAUGH TRACK* combo deal thing. It seemed overtly obvious to me.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:57 PM on May 15, 2011


Then again, the only funny thing I remember from The Ben Stiller Show was him playing grown-up Eddie Munster.

I'll admit I enjoyed the Charles-Manson-as-Lassie bit.
posted by gimonca at 5:02 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it means TV writers tends to make more money than feature writers.

Aha. And now I see that's perfectly clear in context. Well, nobody ever said TV writers were smart.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:02 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Laugh track all the way to the bank.
posted by The Whelk at 5:03 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I really want to know how I came across this before, because I definitely read this in the .txt form linked in the MeFi post from 2001, but I definitely wasn't visiting MeFi (or BB) back then.
posted by palidor at 5:04 PM on May 15, 2011


Is it just me or is the "Get cancer" thing a little over the top and out of nowhere. I mean if I had a friend that I felt really did me wrong to the extent that I wanted him to get a disease, I would just talk with him face to face. E-mailing someone some bullshit like that would just make you the biggest asshole in the world no matter what the other guy did.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:05 PM on May 15, 2011


"that would just make you the biggest asshole in the world"

How did Charlie Sheen get into this discussion...?
posted by tomswift at 5:07 PM on May 15, 2011


The Cable Guy also grew on me over the years.
A good anti-fungal will clear that right up.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:07 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I pretty much despise Judd Apatow's work. But his considered and witty responses in the face of douchebaggery made me chuckle. So now I'm thinking better thoughts about him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:08 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Laugh track all the way to the bank.

It certainly used to be true. There are old studies floating around that showed an increase in perception of a show's funniness when they included a laugh track.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:08 PM on May 15, 2011


How did Charlie Sheen get into this discussion...?

Don't you know? Everything is about Charlie Sheen.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:09 PM on May 15, 2011


I remember this from so long ago. A buddy who was valiantly trying to get into sitcom writing sent it to me. Now he manages IT folk... But he shot a no-budget pilot completely on spec, just like Apatow would be doing if he were in my buddy's position.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:10 PM on May 15, 2011


Ugh, it's like high school all over again. Apparently even famous people need to learn how to disengage.

Judging from even my limited life in basic cable, I would say yes -- yes, absolutely, it's like high school. In all its good and bad ways.
posted by cavalier at 5:11 PM on May 15, 2011


I actually remember reading this way back in the day. (You'll notice it was published in 2002).

The funny thing is, I had no idea who Judd Apatow was when I read the exchange the first time, and That 70s Show was really popular. That 70s Show has been off the air for years and That 80s show was a total flop. And now Apatow is super famous. Hahaha.
posted by delmoi at 5:12 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I used to like Judd Apatow. This year, he fell on the wrong side of the Ricky Gervais Golden Globes Award 'debate', and now I don't like Judd Apatow anymore. Retroactively, in fact.

Gervais didn't even go after Apatow. Apatow just showed himself to a a sycophant, just like buddy here labeled him years ago.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:12 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


These are like the emails sent back and forth between my girlfriend and I. It's uncanny!
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:15 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "I actually remember reading this way back in the day. (You'll notice it was published in 2002).

The funny thing is, I had no idea who Judd Apatow was when I read the exchange the first time, and That 70s Show was really popular. That 70s Show has been off the air for years and That 80s show was a total flop. And now Apatow is super famous. Hahaha
"

Same deal, I read it in the actual paper magazine, and had no idea who Judd Apatow was.
posted by mwhybark at 5:16 PM on May 15, 2011


So fake.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:16 PM on May 15, 2011


Finally, no, That '70s Show sucked ass unless you were so incomprehensibly high that you'd laugh at carpeting. That show's insistent, obvious laugh track alone means Brazill deserves prison.
That show rocked.
posted by delmoi at 5:17 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


These are like the emails sent back and forth between my girlfriend and I. It's uncanny!

Your girlfriend wanted me to get on here and tell you it should be "between my girlfriend and me."
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:17 PM on May 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Judging from even my limited life in basic cable, I would say yes -- yes, absolutely, it's like high school. In all its good and bad ways.

I mean seriously. I had been Apatow, Brazill, AND the special guest star Jeff Kahn at some point or another (that was my favorite role at the time - crony who verifies the victim's story, regardless of authenticity).

I eventually learned that, in cases like this, the original offense doesn't actually matter. It's all about the drama of the grudge. It's fun to have a mortal enemy. And on the other side, it's great PR to be the victim in a situation like this - you get to come off as the rational voice of tolerant reason (no matter how many times you poke the fire ant nest).
posted by muddgirl at 5:19 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


These are like the emails sent back and forth between my girlfriend and I. It's uncanny!

You tell your girlfriend to get cancer and die? Is everything OK at home, TD?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:19 PM on May 15, 2011


Then [Apatow] defended Tim Allen: "[Gervais] made a joke about Tim Allen, who was standing next to Tom Hanks. Who looks good standing next to Tom Hanks? We all look like a piece of shit standing next to Tom Hanks. Warren Buffett would look like a piece of shit next to Tom Hanks. Tim Allen did 200 episodes of Home Improvement. He was in three of the highest-grossing movies of all-time. And his latest [Toy Story 3] just crossed the one billion mark. Whereas The Invention of Lying made $18 million dollars worldwide ... Leave Tim Allen alone.” *

What happened to Judd v. 0.1?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:34 PM on May 15, 2011


I have never heard of Mark Brazill before, so I pictured his emails as coming from Roman on Party Down. It was wonderful.
posted by AndNeverWell at 5:34 PM on May 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Regardless of any other issue, I find the " don't make fun of him, he made a lot of money" argument completely wonderful.
posted by The Whelk at 5:38 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I always thought that was part of the schtick, like a CORNY JOKE - *LAUGH TRACK* combo deal thing. It seemed overtly obvious to me."

But that was all there fucking was on that show, and when the one joke is that the jokes aren't funny yet are tied to the most desperate laughter since John Wayne Gacy clowned for boy scouts, Obvious Show Is Obvious should have died in pilot.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on May 15, 2011


One day people will finally fucking learn the difference between a laugh track and a studio audience.

Grr.
posted by grubi at 5:41 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I swear that show just ran on the immense likability and timing of Debra Jo Rupp.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Apparently even famous people need to learn how to disengage."

Well, we're certainly not going to be able to teach them that here at the Meta....
posted by tomswift at 5:49 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


One day people will finally fucking learn the difference between a laugh track and a studio audience.

Was That '70s Show using a studio audience? I can't tell the difference. I do know that even shows that do will milk up natural laughter with a laugh track during editing. Sometimes long running sitcoms, Friends for instance, will even switch from using audience laughter to laugh tracks in the later seasons.
posted by riruro at 5:57 PM on May 15, 2011


Brazill's "get cancer!" isn't even original. I first heard it in King of Comedy.
posted by dobbs at 5:59 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I swear that show just ran on the immense likability and timing of Debra Jo Rupp.

If there was any single actor that drove that show, it was Kurtwood Smith.

But it was more than just one actor.
posted by kafziel at 6:15 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's better if you read it in Andy-Kaufman's-character-pretending-to-be-Judd-Nelson's-character's voice.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:21 PM on May 15, 2011


Judd Nelson? Where did that come from ... nevermind
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:22 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never could stand to watch That 70's show. It threw me right back into my 70's teenage years and once was QUITE enough for that, thankyewverrymuch.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:24 PM on May 15, 2011


riruro: "Sometimes long running sitcoms, Friends for instance, will even switch from using audience laughter to laugh tracks in the later seasons"

Can you imagine the office atmosphere the day this announcement was made? "We're going to switch to a laugh track." Isn't this like "we've stopped being funny"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:27 PM on May 15, 2011


You know, sitcoms that use a live audience will redo scenes if the audience didn't laugh when they were supposed to. If that's happening, I could see the use of a laugh track being a load off everybody's minds.
posted by kafziel at 6:30 PM on May 15, 2011


I'm pretty sure that Seinfeld switched off from studio audience laughter to laugh track pretty regularly.
posted by any major dude at 6:32 PM on May 15, 2011


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by d1rge at 6:34 PM on May 15, 2011


Brazill's "get cancer!" isn't even original. I first heard it in King of Comedy.
posted by dobbs at 5:59 PM on May 15 [+] [!]


And King of Comedy stole it from a real-life anecdote which went more or less the same as what happened in the movie, Jerry Lewis was on the street trying to get somewhere when an old woman asked him for an autograph. He politely told her that he couldn't because he was in a hurry, to which she replied, "I hope you get cancer."
posted by Ndwright at 6:45 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think That 70's Show is hilarious and it was while watching it that my boyfriend and decided yes, we would like to have kids. He is going to be Red and I am going to be Kitty and some yet to be born future teenagers should totally look out because they are going to get a foot in their ass,
posted by Wantok at 6:51 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


So those guys are writers?

Really?
posted by halcyon_daze at 8:04 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, "The Grungies" is even worse than I remember it being.

It's pretty faithful to The Monkees. Which I guess is the same thing.

Also, That 70's Show had an incredibly talented cast.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:18 PM on May 15, 2011


I think it means TV writers tends to make more money than feature writers.

Aha. And now I see that's perfectly clear in context. Well, nobody ever said TV writers were smart.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:02 PM on May 15 [+] [!]


You're smart enough not to be a feature writer, which is pretty freakin' smart.

Yes, indeed, it's because TV writers make more money. I swear, I hear this joke at WGA mixers. Actually, that makes perfect sense: TV writers are too busy making money to go to mixers.
posted by incessant at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, weird.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:23 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]



One day people will finally fucking learn the difference between a laugh track and a studio audience.


I can tell you studio audience responses are routinely fortified for broadcast, because studio audiences are rarely the hysterical bunch they seem to be on TV. You should see the comic they hire to MC the taping sweat just keeping the audience in a jolly mood.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:48 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also filming last way longer then you'd expect.

"Laugh Track" by Ellison has an amusing take on "sweetening" audio tracks of audiences.
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 PM on May 15, 2011


Well, weird. yt

You know the thing about traveling through dimensions? It's not the Empire Of The Suarians of the Aztec Conquest of Istanbul or the huge, acidic sea around where yellowstone should be.

It's the little things.
posted by The Whelk at 9:53 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah I don't get the whole "taped live before a studio audience" thing. Is it a badge of honor? Does it bestow something special on a show? Or is it just some throwback from the 1950's that people like to keep around for shits, giggles, and nostalgia?

I heard Louis C.K. talking about how his show Luckie Louis was maligned because because it supposedly had a laugh track, but "IT WAS A LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE."

But in the end it really comes down to this: I don't want to be told when to laugh.
posted by stratastar at 10:12 PM on May 15, 2011


There was a nice TAL (or was it radiolab?) segment on the voices used to "fortify" laugh tracks. Gah speaking of dying in fires.
posted by stratastar at 10:13 PM on May 15, 2011


The Daily Show and Colbert have a studio audience, is it the nature of the show as a stage performance that makes it okay or the tradition of a chat show with a vocal audience?


I mean I agree, laugh tracks are super-annoying (huh when exactly did that happen, TV-Culture wise, the dropping of Laugh Tracks? I wanna say around 1999) but a live audience is preferable to a canned one - I think the more stage-y a show is the more you can accept a audience response - I don't balk at the audience on the IT Crowd cause it's so obviously a stage show but it would be totally distracting in something like Arrested Development. I bet it's the three fixed cameras.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 PM on May 15, 2011


Your girlfriend wanted me to get on here and tell you it should be "between my girlfriend and me."

Yeah, well, your mom told me that pedantry is the dotage of knowledge and that's why you're not her favourite.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:22 PM on May 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


"huh when exactly did that happen, TV-Culture wise, the dropping of Laugh Tracks? I wanna say around 1999"

Maybe before then? I remember this even though I was... 14 or 15 ( (1997-1998)? But Sportsnight was my favorite show for two years and the only one I watched on weeknights (and I still think it's a reaaally under-rated show but I haven't revisited it for fear or ruining something nice in my memories), and it went from a laugh-track in season one to no laugh-track in season two, and since then I think of the difference between the two types of programs as ones that take their audiences seriously, and promotes active watching and others that reward passive watching.

I still think that the X-Files is one of the most hilarious things ever, EVERY episode started with a joke, but almost NO ONE I knew thought it was funny because it didn't have a laugh track. I think now most people are up to speed on black humor but... it took what, Fargo?
posted by stratastar at 10:31 PM on May 15, 2011


Ties into the link, The Cable Guy now reads as ahead of its time, tone wise.
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 PM on May 15, 2011


I think The Larry Sanders Show (92-98) on HBO was the first sitcom to totally go single camera and do away with laugh track or audience (except for the talk show-within-a-show scenes). It wasn't terribly popular, but was loved by critics and was hugely influential to people who make TV shows. Networks started putting up single camera sitcoms after Larry.

Though MASH ended up doing away with canned laughter years before, which CBS forced upon the show and the producers fought for a long time to get rid of. You would think the networks would have wanted to copy the top rated comedy of all time and do away with canned laughter forever, but executives were scared for the longest time that TV comedies couldn't succeed without it.
posted by riruro at 10:56 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


MASH was single-camera. Larry Sanders is groundbreaking for many reasons, but it wasn't the first single-camera, non-laugh tracked TV comedy, not by a long-shot.
posted by incessant at 11:39 PM on May 15, 2011


And speaking of Larry Sanders, Judd Apatow was a writer on the show. You can see a funny and impassioned argument that Apatow and Shandling are still enjoying, over a scene that Apatow unsuccessfully pitched, on one of the Sanders DVDs.
posted by e.e. coli at 3:45 AM on May 16, 2011


"Laugh Track" by Ellison has an amusing take on "sweetening" audio tracks of audiences.

The synopsis is brilliant.
posted by exogenous at 7:07 AM on May 16, 2011


This is pretty great. I wish there was a resource for finding more excellent nuggets in the Harpers archive.
posted by willie11 at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2011


> But Sportsnight was my favorite show [...]

Yeah, but Sports Night was Aaron Sorkin, and he had to fight to not have a laugh track. I remember reading an interview with him years ago now. He said something about how making a show is like putting on a tuxedo, making sure it looks really good. A laugh track is like getting a pie in the face on your way out the door.
posted by Horselover Fat at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2011


Not only was this exchange funny, but I had all but resigned to accepting that I simply imagined the "The Grungies" sketch, which I thought was masterful when I saw it (admittedly, when I was much much younger).

Best post of the day.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2011


I can tell you studio audience responses are routinely fortified for broadcast, because studio audiences are rarely the hysterical bunch they seem to be on TV.

I don't know, I found the audiences to be very willing to laugh at the sitcom tapings I went to in LA. People are on vacation, they are seeing "stars", everyone else is laughing... it's hard not to laugh.

And it's actually worse, because people in person will laugh at physical humor and puns that they would think are terrible if they saw them on TV.
posted by smackfu at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2011


I can tell you studio audience responses are routinely fortified for broadcast, because studio audiences are rarely the hysterical bunch they seem to be on TV.

...and studio audience responses are routinely toned down for broadcast, because studio audiences often laugh too long and too loudly.
posted by muddgirl at 8:35 AM on May 16, 2011


"[Gervais] made a joke about Tim Allen, who was standing next to Tom Hanks. Who looks good standing next to Tom Hanks? We all look like a piece of shit standing next to Tom Hanks. Warren Buffett would look like a piece of shit next to Tom Hanks. Tim Allen did 200 episodes of Home Improvement. He was in three of the highest-grossing movies of all-time. And his latest [Toy Story 3] just crossed the one billion mark. Whereas The Invention of Lying made $18 million dollars worldwide ... Leave Tim Allen alone.”

I try to remember "Bosom Buddies," "Bachelor Party," "The Money Pit," "Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," and "The Shaggy Dog" any time I read shit like this.
posted by blucevalo at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your girlfriend wanted me to get on here and tell you it should be "between my girlfriend and me."

Yeah, well, your mom told me that pedantry is the dotage of knowledge and that's why you're not her favourite.


Can we please get off the moms and the girlfriends?

Cause I just got off yours.

I'm so sorry

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:57 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah I don't get the whole "taped live before a studio audience" thing. Is it a badge of honor? Does it bestow something special on a show? Or is it just some throwback from the 1950's that people like to keep around for shits, giggles, and nostalgia?

According to this (on Ken Levine's blog), the reason they announced it on Cheers is that because the show was filmed rather than taped, people thought they were using a laugh track. As to why that's a big deal, I'm guessing it's because it's documented proof that the show makes at least one group of people laugh. If I were a comedy writer, I'd totally be validated by that.
posted by suetanvil at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2011


wow, that show Bookhouse linked is like an alternate universe 70s show. When did that air?
posted by dabitch at 12:00 PM on May 16, 2011


The UK version of the 70s show was really hard to watch -- so close to the original show it was almost unnerving, like listening to someone sing slightly out of tune.
posted by empath at 12:05 PM on May 16, 2011


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Then again, the only funny thing I remember from The Ben Stiller Show was him playing grown-up Eddie Munster."

What about the Mohican Master 2000?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:03 PM on May 16, 2011


I try to remember "Bosom Buddies," "Bachelor Party," "The Money Pit," "Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," and "The Shaggy Dog" any time I read shit like this.

Try to remember it wasn't Hanks who said it.
posted by grubi at 1:04 PM on May 16, 2011


There was something on reddit about Tim Allen getting fingered for dealing coke in the 70s and avoiding prison by ratting out his entire supply chain.
posted by anazgnos at 4:08 PM on May 16, 2011


Didn't avoid prison entirely. Provided names, got a 3-7 year sentence instead of life imprisonment, served 2 years 4 months before parole.
posted by kafziel at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2011


Don't forget Tim Allen's attempt at a porn career. It's kind of sobering that Home Improvement and the Santa Clause were actually the best possible outcome for society.

(also, about Hanks, I believe you forgot Turner and Hooch.)

But leave Joe vs. The Volcano and Dragnet out of that conversation. Two bits of sublime beauty, they were.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:58 PM on May 16, 2011


Ghidorah: "Don't forget Tim Allen's attempt at a porn career."

I'm torn on this. Part of me wants a cite, the other part of me wants to shove a coat hanger up my nose and pierce my frontal lobe for imagining Tim Allen in a porn scene.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2011


I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it...
posted by Ghidorah at 2:04 PM on May 17, 2011


No thank you. That door has naked Tim Allen in it. We're bricking that up Cask of Amontillado style.
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I remember correctly from all the buzz in the Entertainment shows, Tim Allen wasn't really in a porn. He was the comedic host for some kind of a Girls Gone Wild event that took place outside of any kind of porn scene.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:06 PM on May 17, 2011


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