Last week I wrote a post on how I won tickets to The Big Bang Theory and the steps you should take to best guarantee your own chances of winning free tickets. In this week's post, I delve into all the details of the actual experience so you know what to expect on the day of a taping. At the end of this post, you'll also find a recipe you can use to make these Bazinga cake pops!
What Time to Arrive to a Live Taping of The Big Bang Theory
The taping we won tickets for was on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, and the show was supposed to start at 6:30pm. After some Google researching, I learned that people start waiting in line hours before the show. Even though we had priority tickets which guaranteed seating, the seating itself was noted as first come, first serve. This was a once in a lifetime experience for us, so we weren't going to take any chances and decided to get to the Warner Bros Studios five hours ahead of time at 1:30pm.
The view from the Gate 3 parking lot of the Warner Bros Studios
Looking back, it isn't super necessary to do what we did. We realized that most of the people who started waiting extra early did so because they only had standby tickets. If you have standby tickets, then yes, definitely get there as soon as possible to better your chances of actually getting into the studio.
If you've got priority tickets, you can wait as early as we did, but you'll probably still get a somewhat decent seat if you arrive at the minimum of 90 minutes before showtime that Audiences Unlimited recommends. The seating is somewhat first come, first serve but not actually your choice. You're given a number according to your place in line, and then you're directed into your seating by groups of about 15 people starting from the first available row. All the best seats, like the entire first two rows and dead center seats, were already taped off for VIP guests. I was lucky number 7 in line but still ended up on the far left of our section in front of the elevator set right in between Penny and Sheldon's apartments. If I had a choice, I would have loved to be closer to the right toward the front of Sheldon's apartment. I'll have to learn how to get VIP tickets next time!
What to Pack to a Live Taping of The Big Bang Theory
We arrived at the Warner Bros Studios right around 1:30pm like we had planned, and there were already about twenty people waiting around the seating area in the parking garage.
When you tell the parking attendant that you're there for The Big Bang Theory, he'll give you this ticket which will validate your excitement all the more.
They are totally strict with their policy regarding no cell phones, electronics, and any other devices with a camera on it so be prepared to leave these in your car. We brought ours with us to take pictures of what we could in the waiting area and took them back into the car about half an hour before knowing we were going to start walking into the studios.
Knowing that we'd be waiting for five hours, we prepared by bringing small coolers with food, snacks, and drinks. Most people waiting there that early had the same idea and had seating pads too. If you don't want your hands full, there are actually several vending machines with various food and drinks available in the waiting area to access for sustenance.
The temperature that day was 101 degrees, so it was brutal waiting that long in a sweltering parking garage. There are a few ceiling fans installed above the seating area, but it's pretty much just hot air circulating around. It gets worse as more people start arriving to line up. Definitely try to be better prepared than we were for the weather, hot or cold! It does get chilly in the air conditioned studio, so be sure to bring a sweater to wear inside.
This is a glimpse of what the waiting area looks like inside the Warner Bros Studios parking lot. There are a bunch of benches situated behind this roped off area where people sit to wait. You don't actually assemble into these standing lines until right before your group is escorted to the studios across the street
Other than games and supplies to help you get through the actual wait, be sure to bring printed versions of your tickets. The Audiences Unlimited team should have a record of your name which you need to prove with a licensed ID, but nearly everyone had their printed tickets which facilitated the check in process.
How a Live Taping of The Big Bang Theory Works
Being in the first group in line, we were taken inside the studio about an hour before showtime. We started waking up from our heat daze as we finally made it into the Warner Bros Studios, and the excitement significantly intensified as we passed by all the cast members' parking spots. I so wish we were allowed cameras! Right as you enter into the curtained studio, you'll be delighted by the sight of display cases holding various props made for the show like the kissing robot.
From "The Infestation Hypothesis," Season 5, Episode 2
There are maybe 200 or so bleacher seats set up in long rows in front of the studio sets with large TV screens hanging above the seating. The sets that the audience can see span from Penny's apartment to Sheldon's apartment. From where I was sitting, I was also able to see into the set for the comic book store which was to the far left of Penny's apartment and a very faraway glimpse into Howard's mom's living room to the far right of Sheldon's apartment.
It takes pretty much the full hour to fill the studio, and the show finally begins with an emcee comedian named Mark Sweet. His job is to keep the crowd's energies high and enthused enough to keep laughing throughout the live recording. He got everyone jumping up and down in the beginning for a single copy of an autographed photo of the full cast. I couldn't jump visibly enough by the tall man right next to me, and he ended up getting it. I was so bummed especially being one person away from getting that picture!
All the cast members are introduced one by one, and they jump out appearing to be as excited to see us as we were to see them. In my mind I thought celebrities always had a chance of appearing slightly different in life than they do on the screen, and it only felt all the more surreal because they each embodied their characters to the tee. It really did feel more like seeing Sheldon in person than seeing Jim Parsons.
Our attention was directed to the TV screens to watch an episode that hadn't aired yet from the previous week so we could be brought up to speed for the evening. We watched Episode 3 of the current season, "The Bachelor Party Corrosion," where the boys end up stranded in Mexico after blowing up their van.
From "The Bachelor Party Corrosion," Season 9, Episode 3
We were finally ready to start the live taping, and the scene began right in front of us for a stairway conversation. It was so fun to see a bunch of staff swooping in at the end of a cut to quickly switch props on the set to make the elevator set appear as if it was another level of the building. Diehard fans probably already know this fact that the stairway conversation scenes are all shot in the same set by the cast members walking up the same stairs over and over. Now we got to see the process happen before our eyes!
Each scene was filmed at least twice, and we were expected to laugh each time. Sometimes they'd redo a part of the scene with the cast using different lines, so it was natural to react in laughter again. Let's just say for the other times though, some people were definitely better than I was at enthusiastically laughing out loud at a repeated joke.
In a few instances when they'd redo a scene, we were told to hold back on our initial reactions. The audience erupted into awws in the scene where Sheldon sadly admits that Penny could end up marrying someone better than him, and then we were told to please be quiet and not react for the second shot of the scene lol.
Then, there were some scenes in the episode that were filmed at a separate time and shown to us via the TV screens above. Actually, a good majority of the live taping scenes were shot in sets that weren't in view of the live studio audience, so we ended up watching those through the TV screens as well. Since I had a view of the comic book store where I was seated though, I was able to see Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg (Raj and Howard) do their live performance of "Thor and Doctor Jones." That was definitely epic.
Howard and Raj form a duet called Footprints on the Moon and compose their debut song, "Thor and Doctor Jones" in Episode 4 of Season 9 on The Big Bang Theory.
The taping itself lasted about four hours. We were fed a slice of cold cheese pizza in the middle of the show, and the emcee continues to do tons of silly games with the audience while throwing around candy as prizes. I think the candy was intentional to keep audience members from getting hangry during the taping and keep their energy levels up enough to laugh repeatedly.
Near the end of the show, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki climbed up to where we were to thank all of us for supporting the show. That was sadly the extent of our "interaction" with any of the cast members. They all kind of disappeared into the studios after their thank you bows at the end of the taping. A lot of us tried to linger a little bit to see if autographs would happen, but the staff seemed pretty insistent in trying to get us out quickly.
So that was our once in a lifetime experience at The Big Bang Theory's live taping! It was unforgettable and personally meaningful for Ryan and I who fell in love with the show in a way where it's become a part of our relationship's history in the making. If you love it as much as we do, I encourage you to check out last week's post where I give you solid tips to help you win tickets in the same way I did.
We thought we were traveling far coming from Pittsburgh to California, but there were fans from Brazil, Germany, Australia, and the UK who were there and only on standby tickets too! Their commitment to me was a reminder that life really is too short to not try and go on epic adventures!
Bazinga Cake Pops
After getting back from California, I was on a Big Bang Theory high and inspired to make BBT treats. After the Big Bang Theory cookies I did for last week's post, I decided to make some cake pops based on one of my favorite episodes: "The Einstein Approximation," better known as the Bazinga ball pit episode.
It's probably a favorite of most fans and seems to be one of the most recognizable scenes of the show from all the seasons thus far. The way Sheldon pops his head out all around the ball pit yelling "Bazinga!" is pretty iconic.
I saw a lot of Big Bang Theory ball pit cakes on the interwebs, but being that my specialty is more focused on smaller treats, I decided to try making Bazinga cake pops instead.
Cake pops are very simple to make, especially when you just go with premixed box cake. I refuse to use anything premixed or premade for Yummyholic's menu, but I think it's totally harmless for blog projects like this and sharing easy baking activities that anyone can enjoy in their own homes.
The key to making cake pops that are light and fluffy is to go easy on the frosting. Just a couple big spoonfuls of it should be enough for the cake crumbles to come together into a moist texture that you can easily mold. You can also totally make the cake and frosting all from scratch if you'd like! Just add in your frosting a little at a time to avoid overdoing it.
Ingredients & Materials You'll Need
- One box of premixed vanilla cake (I used Pillsbury's Moist Supreme Yellow Cake)
- One can of vanilla frosting (I used Pillsbury's Fluffy White Frosting)
- Mini M&Ms
- Red Candy Melts from Wilton
- Paper cutouts of Sheldon's Bazinga face; just Google an image and print on card stock or photo glossy paper
- Lollipop sticks
- Styrofoam block
- Yellow Royal Icing (optional)
- Prepare cake according to box instructions for a 9" x 13" pan. Once completely cooled, trim off the crusty edges of the cake and crumble up into a large bowl. Remember to crumble up the cake into fine pieces!
- Add frosting one large spoonful at a time and work it into the crumbs with your hands. This is a great project to do with kids who love getting their hands messy! Using your bare hands to work through the cake mix will make it much easier to control its texture. Make sure to only add a few spoonfuls until the dough comes together in a way that's easy to roll into balls. I only had to use about two spoonfuls since the cake itself was already super moist.
- Using a mini ice cream scooper, scoop out the cake "dough" twice. Roll between the palms of your hands so it forms into a ball about an inch to an inch and a half large. Use your thumb to start forming a small well in the center of your ball while slowly starting to flatten it into a square with your hands. You are working to form the ball pit base for your cake pops. Arrange these on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper with the hollowed out portion facing the bottom so you're seeing the flat base on top.
- Once all your cake ball pits are shaped, melt your red candy melts. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy and then slowly stick into your cake ball bases. Because you hollowed out the center, your sticks will likely end up sticking through. It's okay as long as you make sure there's some of the melted candy at the base of your cake ball pits to hold it together. Repeat with your remaining pieces then stick in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- With your cake ball pit bases firm now, slowly dip into your red candy melts to full coat. The insides of your cake ball pits may not get coated which is fine. Just use another stick to add a little bit of the candy melts into the center and immediately place in your mini M&M candy pieces so they're glued in. Stick your currently Sheldonless cake ball pits into your Styrofoam block to keep them upright to dry.
- Cut your toothpicks into small pieces and tape a piece behind each of your Sheldon cutouts so that they jut out just enough at the end to stick into your cake ball pits. Arrange accordingly.
- Optional: Use yellow or other colored royal icing to decorate your cake pops for some contrast.
Have fun with these and enjoy!