Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Episode 18: How Many of You Are from Out of Town: Sitcom Warm-Up Comedians

A key element of any TV show done before an audience is the warm-up man. There is an art to this very unique role. Ken was the warm-up man for CHEERS and shares stories of that show and many others. Plus, an interview with Stu Shostak, one of the top warm-up men in the business.

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Brad Apling said...

Speaking of sitcoms, your thoughts on a TV series, if successful, having a movie of the same follow later or a movie that, if successful, having a TV series follow later. Does the follow-on for either work out well enough or is it better to leave well enough alone? Thanks!

Barry said...

Ken, you mention in the podcast about presenting Pilot episodes as stage productions. I think this is a fascinating and exciting idea, and I wonder if you think the idea of a theatrical company producing old Pilots, old episodes of classic sitcoms, maybe even recreations of live radio dramas would work on an ongoing basis. Have you ever known a professional company doing this with success? Are TV scripts available for rental, and are the rights relatively easy to obtain? I think presenting the productions as if the audience were watching the taping of an episode - complete with warm-up guy, maybe even APPLAUSE signs, etc - would be hoot.

Mike Barer said...

I've been in a studio audience several times, one thing that I've noticed is when I watch a show and the audience starts applauding, I picture the sign lighting up. We were in the studio audience at Politically Incorrect, which was shot at Television City, all I remember is that we were given specific instructions on when to laugh and when to applaud.
When we were in the audience at the Price Is Right, George Gray was great at warming up the audience, I don't remember an applause light, it was very spontaneous, because even if you were not picked, you just had to root for the folks that had been.

Andy Rose said...

It's so hard to find people these days who are impressed with the idea of a free TV taping (other than for very well known shows) that lots of them have given up on ticketing and just hire casting people to find paid extras. Not a bad way to make a buck if you've got nothing else to do, but the downside is that once they pay you, they own you. Instead of being there for 2 hours, you'll probably be there for 5-8 hours, and you won't get a dollar if you leave early.

Somebody recorded a Johnny Olson warm-up from 1975, and it's posted on YouTube.
The audio doesn't quite give you the full effect. Reportedly, one of the big attractions was seeing this short, 65-year-old man in a suit jumping into women's laps, dancing the Funky Chicken... doing anything to get the audience excited.

Mike Barer said...

That reminds me of when I stayed with my great aunt and uncle in Park Le Brea and went to nearby TV city to watch a taping of Three's Company. I still see that episode broadcast every now and then. It had Don Knotts and Priscilla Barnes. It was the one wear Jack got his tie caught in a kite. Jenilee Harrison was also in the episode, she was the one that replaced Suzanne Sommers. Jenilee was replaced by Barnes, but still made some appearences on the show.