Bill Prady is showrunner for CBS’ other Chuck Lorre show – that is, The Big Bang Theory, first-time Emmy nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series in the same year that Two and a Half Men was pulled out of the running. Big Bang was created by Lorre and Prady. And since Lorre’s not talking to any media, Deadline TV contributor Diane Haithman sought out Prady:
DEADLINE: Congratulations on your nomination. I’ll ask the cliché question first: how does it feel?
BILL PRADY: Boy, what’s a non-cliché answer to that question? I’m going to go with a clichéd answer and say it’s really fun. If I knew exactly what you had to do to make a show Emmy-worthy, it is absolutely something that we would do. I’m going to assume that the process is people look at the shows that are out there and mark the ones they enjoy most, and we were one of those shows this year.
DEADLINE: Big Bang Theory is a live studio audience multi-camera show, and the last to win the Comedy Series award was Everybody Loves Raymond in 2005.
PRADY: I’m personally a big fan of four-camera TV comedy. There’s been a shift over the years in the number of multi-camera and single-camera comedies produced. I think that probably has something to do with it. Is there a presupposition on the part of the Emmy voter to choose only one four-camera show? I genuinely don’t think that people make choices like that.
DEADLINE: Does that say anything about today’s TV comedy world?
PRADY: I wish I could sound smarter. I grew up on the TV classics anybody my age of 51 grew up on. I love a show that has moments that really makes you laugh out loud. People will say, ‘Did you know this show was going to be a hit?’ And fundamentally you say no. I approach this as everything I’ve ever done which is: You get in in the morning, have a cup of coffee, and then you say, ‘What’s the best thing that we could do?’ And you do it until you’re tired and you come home. The only thing you ever have control over is, ‘Are you trying hard?’ We always try. One of the great things for the employment of writers, and one of the challenges for panels of Academies and critics, is the size of the marketplace for TV programs has increased. How do you come up with the half a dozen best? And is the appetite for awards shows generated by an audience looking for sign posts to quality in a huge market of entertainment?
DEADLINE: Big Bang is broad humor, but it’s broad humor about really smart people.
PRADY: People talk about the show being a smart show. It’s about smart characters. But one of the points of the show is that being smart doesn’t necessarily give you a leg up when it comes to dealing with other people. I think we here among the geeky and the nerdish draw on our own experiences.
DEADLINE: Are TV writers nerds?
PRADY: Are writers nerds? My God. When you are walking on the lot and you see a group of writers, even if you don’t know who they are, you say, ‘God, those are writers.’ It’s really sad. You know that your group looks the same to them. But to all the women out there, speaking on behalf of the single members of the group, they are smart, they are funny, they are caring, and they’ll really listen.
DEADLINE: With Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, you have introduced girl geeks on your show.
PRADY: Actually, I want to commend society for the creation and emergence of the female geek. As a male geek, we welcome her. One of the great things about going to Comic-Con these days, it is most assuredly a coed event now. I think there have always been women who have had childhoods as sad and lonely as some male geeks, but now they’re coming out. We are depicting a particular culture, and whenever you are depicting a particular culture, there is an instant judgment made whether you are celebrating or mocking the culture. We knew we were celebrating it because it is our culture, but it’s through the prism of a four-camera comedy.
DEADLINE: Is there a sense that Comic-Con is not just for geeks and comic book fanatics but the young hip TV audience?
PRADY: Our first year at Comic-Con, I remember Chuck Lorre giving the cast a little pep talk. ‘Go out there into that room, and it’s probably going to be mostly empty. But even if it’s four people, let’s spend a nice hour with them.’ And we walked into the room and it was packed to the rafters. I think that shows that have at least an aspect of something that is being celebrated at Comic-Con have a better time there. But there’s a sort of Comic-Con-style fandom that builds up around some shows. Look at a show like Bones, which I know has a big fandom that’s there because you have nerdish characters.
DEADLINE: What TV do you watch?
PRADY: I loved Treme; I’m convinced it’s being made just for me, because food and jazz are two of my favorite things. I loved The Wire, I loved The Shield. I nerdishly loved Game of Thrones. Friday Night Lights… I love when somebody’s got a great aggressive bit of imagination, like Battlestar Galactica. I think watching comedy for a comedy writer is a bit of a busman’s holiday. I love what they do over at Modern Family, but I don’t find myself turning on a comedy. I find myself turning on a drama. Because then I’m not thinking about, ‘Here’s another way to do that joke,’ or, in the case of Modern Family, ‘What a brilliant way to do that joke.’ But to watch something that shakes you and moves you and draws you in, and takes you into another world — that’s real fun.