In a recent pre-Emmy interview with Variety, “The Big Bang Theory” nominees Jim Parson (Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) and Bob Newhart (Guest Actor in a Comedy Series) discuss careers, evolving comedy and how sitcoms — specifically multi-camera shows — aren’t as dead as everyone thinks they are.
“When we started out, somebody said we were making the last of the buggy whips, but the bottom line was the Model T was here,” describes Parson. “But I don’t know why they say that, because both forms exist on television quite happily next to each other.”
“You do the one camera, and they put a laugh track on it,” Newhart adds. “I’ve done it a couple times and I hate it. Coming from standup, that live audience — it drives you.”
Despite the success of the multi-cam sitcom (“The Big Bang Theory” has held the number one ratings slot for coming up on three years), both the actors admit that things have changed over the years — at least in terms of jokes.
“On “The Bob Newhart Show” we could take a minute and a half to set up a joke. That’s unheard of today. The audience is demanding go, go, go,” explains Newhart. “That’s the way they write and the way it’s shot.
Parsons agreed, adding “When I think of the Nick at Nite education I was betting through Bob and Mary Tyler Moore, I was coupling that with a primetime that was already evolving with shows like “Cosby” and “Family Ties.” So I’ve seen changes evolve to a faster pace.
TBBT definitely falls into the category of record pace jokes, with Parsons’ dead pan delivery often at the center. Those jokes have helped both actors win Emmy awards for the show (Parsons four times, and Newhart last year in the same Guest Star category). Will it help this year? (You can tell us your thoughts by voting for Lead Actor in our Zap2it poll).
Find out who wins when the Emmys air live Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on NBC.
“The Big Bang Theory” Season 8 premieres on Monday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.