EMMYS: 'Big Bang Theory' Q&A With Bill Prady

Bill Prady is showrunner for CBSother 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.

  1. BBT is hilarious and my favorite comedy. Too bad Modern Family will take the Emmy in this category. BBT is certainly deserving though.

  2. Read this q and a and compare it to the glee one…..with all the success and just good writing on the big bang theory they still have managed to not crawl up their own butt with self congratulation like glee have.

      1. In fairness to Falchuk, look at the difference in the types of questions that got asked: “So, Bill, why is your show great?” “So, Brad, why does your show suck?”

        I think a little defensive, self-congratulation on Falchuk’s part is understandable. That said, Bill Prady is an absolute sweetheart who can handle any question with grace.

    1. Actually if you read the Glee interview it’s very different because of the different questions – questions in glee interview are mostly based on negative feedback from critics or fans so of course there is going to be some defensive answers :)

  3. It doesn’t really matter, because the best comedies on TV (Community, Parks & Recreation, Louie, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) weren’t nominated.

  4. “Bill Prady is showrunner for CBS’ other Chuck Lorre show – that is, The Big Bang Theory”

    er, what about MIKE & MOLLY – it’s also produced by Chuck Lorre,and is on the “Columbia Broadcasting System and it’s affiliated Stations” :)

  5. Wow. I just got done watching a re-run of “Frasier”, “NewsRadio” and “Sanford and Son”, back to back to back, and the “Big Bang Theory” cannot hold a candle to the worst of these shows on its worst day. I truly believe Big Bang “shines” – and that’s overly generous — because the comedic landscape is so turgid these days. (“Two and a Half Men” a top show, really?) Mark my words: Big Bang will not age well. Ten years from now no one will give a damn about it.

    Just my two Abe Lincolns.

  6. I agree, 10 years from, no one will care about the Big Bang…it’s overrated….Since they got a multi-year contract, they don’t try so hard, as if they had to renew year to year….

    They could get better material for the show if they took the show and filmed it outside the box…Box shows get verrrrrrrrrry boring…

    That’s why Modern Family is soooo good and watchable…they go outside the box…warehouse shows are boring, hello, we are in the computer age now…..

    I do like the intro to the show with all the good edits, that’s the most creative part of the entire show…The cast is not watchable to me…no one I know wants to watch the show…stale…like white bread and old tacos…

  7. This is my all-time favorite show (me being a girl geek), and I’m glad to see that Prady comes across as a very down-to-earth person. It’s no less than I would expect.

    To an above poster claiming that ‘no-one I know wants to watch the show’.. please try to refrain from comments like this, because it’s irrelevant. Say that you don’t like to show, and your opinion will be respected. What does it prove whether some of your friends watch the show or not? Is this implying that only the people you know have good taste, and all the other 14 million people who watch this show and make it a huge success, don’t? That’s pretentious.

  8. I love Frasier for a good chuckle. However, BBT is lol for me.
    In particular, Sheldon’s aility to hande the wordiness and scientific of the script. I wish there were more episode, as I’m
    beginning to see the same reruns more than once.

    Also, being Jewish, I think Howard’s mother is hilarious.

    Keep up the great fun!

  9. Notice Amy (Myiam Bialik) is not included in the new cast picture being shown for BBT promos.

    Conrad Binyon

  10. I’m a very big fan of the show…have always noticed that Howard always has a pin on….why? Never have seen it discussed? Love to know the background on it…Best Regards!

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