In October 2016, I went to see a live taping of the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory during a few weeks off in Los Angeles with my girlfriend. I am a huge fan of that show. And while it is not easy to get tickets for a taping of The Big Bang Theory, it’s really not impossible. Here are my tips for you!
Knowing the entire process will make this a lot easier and feasible for you. Tickets ‘sell out’ in a matter of minutes, so you want to snag yours as soon as they go up. We got our tickets from tvtickets.com, which shows the taping dates for The Big Bang Theory in advance. However, tickets aren’t actually released until 30 days before.
I really wanted to attend a taping (how many times will I be in Los Angeles during the next three years, right?), so I actually tried to get tickets for earlier tapings. That way, I familiarized myself with how the entire ticketing process worked and what I could expect when ‘it was for real’.
Once you’ve figured out the date and time the tickets will be released on, you want to be up early (if you live on the West Coast) or reserve some time in your agenda during the day. Tickets are generally released between 8:00 am and 9:30 am (Los Angeles time), so prepare to do a lot of refreshing during those hours. Don’t give up, they’re coming! And while you’re at it: try to be as fast as possible when you’re filling in the form AND keep in mind that you can only get one ticket at a time. I had opened two browser tabs on the ticketing page, and as soon as the tickets were available, I instantly refreshed both pages. Worked like a charm. (It sounds pretty easy right now, but you have to imagine me slamming command+R nervously for about an hour. Not so cool now, huh?)
You’ve done it? Awesome! Last thing you want to check is your ticket. If it explicitly says ‘stand by’, then, sadly, you don’t have guaranteed seats. You will get in if others don’t show up. If your ticket doesn’t mention ‘stand by’, then you have guaranteed seats. Luckily we both had guaranteed seats. Many thanks to Audiences Unlimited‘s customer support for explaining that to me.
- I’ve read about how difficult it is to reach the studios with public transportation, but it really is easy.
- Take the metro red line to Universal City in North Hollywood. From there on, you can easily walk or take an Uber the the Warner Brothers lot. Your choice!
Things to do
- We chose to combine the taping of The Big Bang Theory with a visit to the Warner Brothers Studios at 10 am.
- Perks: we already felt some of the ‘TV magic’, we had seen a little bit of the sets for The Big Bang Theory and the tour leaves you with just enough time to go eat something before getting in line. Sweet deal!
Waiting (ah, the waiting)
- If you have a standby ticket, it’s recommended that you join (or create!) the waiting line as soon as possible. I heard there were already people waiting from 6 am. Don’t sleep on it if you’re the lucky owner of a guaranteed ticket either: not unlike United Airlines, they tend to overbook each taping of The Big Bang Theory
- Personally, we wanted to join the line early as well, just to be sure. We waited from 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm but it was worth every second.
Eating and drinking
- You don’t want to drink as much right before taping starts. Not that it’s impossible to go to the toilet during the taping (you have to wait until the first scenes are shot), but you really don’t want to miss anything.
- I can recommend going to Dog Haus in Burbank for some hot dogs. Their hot dogs are amazing.
- There are vending machines inside the parking structure, just in case you have a sudden craving for Gatorade or peanut butter cups.
- During the taping, hospitality crew will give everyone a free bottle of water and a slice of pizza!
Clothing and backpacks
- Be aware that sound stages are very cold inside. So even if you’re waiting on hot tarmac in tropical LA during the afternoon, know that you’ll be spending the evening in a cold television studio. Dress accordingly.
- You can’t bring backpacks or cellphones inside the studio. It’s possible to hand off your phone to security personnel at the entrance. You’ll get your belongings back after the taping is over. Sadly, this also means that you can’t take any pictures inside the soundstage.
— Robbert Meulemeester (@RobbertRM) 11 november 2016
On your ticket, you will be asked to line up at the parking structure of gate 3. Before that, everyone is already lining up in an outdoor parking lot left of the structure, so join that line! At around 4:30 pm, people from Audiences Unlimited will go get the line, check everyone’s ticket for the first time, and escort you inside the gate 3 parking structure. There you’ll finally be divided in small groups to enter the Warner Brothers lot.
When walking on the Warner Brothers lot, we saw Pretty Little Liar’s pink golf cart scoot by and noticed the shiny cars from director Mark Cendrowski and Kunal Nayyar. A lovely lady then assigned our seats and we both immediately knew we were lucky once again: we were seated on the first row, right in front of Sheldon and Leonard’s kitchen. I couldn’t stop smiling when I realized we were at a taping of The Big Bang Theory. Weird feeling.
A legendary stand-up comedian, Mark Sweet, warmed up the crowd with a few cheesy jokes so that everyone got in the right mood for watching the episode that they shot the week before. This episode (S10E07, The Veracity Elasticity) hadn’t aired yet and we were told that they would use our laughs as well for the final edit of that episode, set to air a few days later. And in all honestly: I think that was one of the funniest episodes so far.
Time flew by and before we knew it, the likes of Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco were standing right in front of us, which was somewhat of a surreal experience. Taping began shortly after, at around 6:30 pm. They always shoot the entire episode in chronological order (except for scenes that are shot earlier that day), which means that they constantly change sets during the night. Typically, each scene gets shot twice. Only when the actors mess up (Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik had lots of bloopers!), they shot the scene an additional few times.
Funny thing: we attended the episode in which Sheldon tries to seduce Amy (S10E08, The Brain Bowl Incubation). In this episode, Amy finds Sheldon in their apartment drinking alcohol and dressed all seductively. The producers wanted a shot where the camera panned from the floor to Sheldon without giving away the joke too early. The production crew therefore blocked the audience’s view with giant black panels so we’d only be able to see the scene on the televisons above our seats. (This is the scene I’m talking about!)
Taping lasted about 4 hours, after which the actors greeted the audience one last time. After that last curtain call, I took a mental pictures of the set and all the actors in front of me, before the curtain closed and we had to leave. We picked up our phones and were escorted back to the front of the studio lot, where we waited for about 5 minutes for our Uber back to Los Feliz, East Hollywood. We were back ‘home’ at around 11 pm. What we did next? Binge watch some older episodes while falling asleep at around 2 am. What a day it had been!
Have you attended a taping of The Big Bang Theory? Maybe you have some additional information to share or you have a question for me? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!