Hi, blog readers! I feel like a professional blog guy, now that I'm plunking down my
blog. Wow, I just used the word "blog" three time in those two sentences. And there! I used it again. The word "blog," that is. There again. Maybe I should move on.
This next show is called "The Miracle Worker," but at the office we called it "Jesus Stain," for obvious reasons. I thought I'd point out a few things that happened when we were making this one.
In the first scene, Leslie accosts two Girl Scouts for selling their cookies in the store. The blonde girl is the daughter of one of the TBS executives, Lillah McCarthy. I know, I know, you're saying "Unfair!" and you may be right, but after you see her in action I think you'll agree that this kid kicks butt. Both girls were super-sweet and had no idea what to make of me. Lillah and her boss, Michael Wright, are the two TBS execs behind our show and are both ex-actors. I think that has a lot to do with their affinity for our show.
Because of the improv and the character-generated humor in the show,
is an actor-centered show. This is a departure, I think, from the writer-generated sitcoms of the '80s and '90s, which focused more on setup and punch lines. As former actors, I think these guys tapped into what we wanted to do right away. Unfortunately, Lillah's daughter seems to have the bug, which, as any nonlying actor will tell you, means she is doomed to a life of everlasting damnation. And restaurant jobs.
On that note: don't ever send your food back to the kitchen. Ever. Unless you want to eat spit, that is. Trust me. I was a cook, and I've seen the horror firsthand.
The next scene finds Leslie and Ingrid in Leslie's office. This set was located on the second floor of the grocery store in Reseda, where we shot. When we found out the store had a bunch of unused office space right above the store, we thought we had scored. We'd be able to use that space for sets and offices, plus we'd save money on our already tight budget because we wouldn't have to transport the crew to a different location whenever we went out of the store.
Also, we need to shoot the show in chronological order because the show is improvised - we never know quite how things are going to turn out. When you are writing a lot of the show on the fly like that, you need to go in order, so that things don't get completely out of hand. How can you shoot the end of the show when you don't know what the end is?
We were thrilled to find the offices, but we were shocked to realize that, during a heat wave in Southern California, there was no air-conditioning.
With all the lights and equipment, it was brutal - probably around 110 degrees or higher. I was loving my sweater vest. If you look closely you can see us sweating. Our makeup team is the best, but even they couldn't stop the downpour. Nothing more fun than trying to be funny while everyone is in a heat coma.
The worst thing was when we broke for lunch. We went outside to the parking lot, where the caterers had set up tents for us to eat. The course? A surprise! Hot lobster and steak. I love lobster and steak. But dipping lobster in melted butter in 100-degree temperatures? On a parking-lot surface? Tough. Delicious, but tough.
In the next scene, Carl and Leslie stand out in front of the store while Buck and Richard flier the cars at the SuperValueMart across the street. We shot the two scenes separately. First Nancy shot Buck and Richard, and then she later shot Bob and I.
It actually all took place in the same parking lot. We just needed one "over-the-shoulder" shot of Leslie far away from the lot to make it look like the two groups were far away from each other. We decided that the best way to do this was for me to stand in a different parking lot adjacent to the grocery store.
There was only one problem: We didn't have a permit to shoot there. So someone decided we should "steal" the shot - meaning, we sneak over the fence and just do it without a permit. And that's exactly what we did, until we got busted. It turned out the lot was owned by the local Catholic church, and the head priest was pissed.
Our line producer had to go over and apologize, and the priest made her promise she wouldn't use the shot in the show. Did she? Let's put it this way: She's going to burn in hell.
So there are just a few thoughts on what went down on the set. I hope you enjoy the show, and I'll post again before the next episode. It's a good one: Todd, the handsome butcher, gets sexually harassed.
For those of you interested in how improvised this show is, I've posted some outtakes and alternate scenes