Jimmy Kimmel (sort of) Live!

Jimmy Kimmel Live! is one of the top ranked late night talk shows on television today. Kimmel’s witty sense of humour, and guest interaction makes for an enjoyable experience, not only for his live studio audience, but for the viewers at home.

Like most late night talk shows, or talk shows in general, the show, despite it’s name, does not actually air live. So what makes Jimmy Kimmel Live! a “live” show? For one, it is the live studio audience. Kimmel interacts with his audience at various points throughout the show. Whether it is the audience laughing, cheering, or also just generally reacting to his jokes/comments, he also has them interact in various segments.

One of his most popular, and long running segments is “pedestrian question“. In this segment, Kimmel’s crew, prior to the show head out onto the street, and as the name suggests, ask passing pedestrians a yes or no question. The audience his then asked to shout out whether they think the person answers yes or no.

During segments such as this one, the barrier between live, and not-live is blurred. As an audience, we are seeing a live studio audience, and it’s host, interacting with pre-planned, recorded, and edited content. This is common trope that many talk shows use, such as on The Tonight Show, and The Ellen Show.

Nowadays, although live shows, such as Kimmel, are not technically text-book-definition live, they aim to create the same viewing experience for their audience, as if they were watching a show truly live. As well, despite pre-recording, most late night shows are very minimally edited, adding to the live experience. Some editing will include the bleeping of swear words, or cutting certain things out if it it is deemed too inappropriate for the viewer, or the shot is too chaotic.

Åsa Kroon Lundell, explains in ‘The design and scripting of ‘unscripted’ talk: liveness versus control in a TV broadcast interview’ that, “live-shot material may be used in a programme to enhance its sense of liveness”. And this is essentially what Jimmy Kimmel Live! is. It is live-shot material, that appears to the viewer as though it is happening in that very moment.

Although it can be disheartening to think of the show in the sense that it isn’t technically live, despite the ironic title, as Scannel states in ‘The Meaning of Live’, “The demonic problem of live speech-act-events on radio and television is the ever present possibility of their breakdown, either through technical error or human performance failure.”. Living in the age of social media, where everything is so instant, mistakes made on live tv are not so easily pushed away. The pre-taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! gives Kimmel and his crew a sense of security.

The downfall to the pre-recorded element of the show is that it takes away the uncertainty and anticipation of something going wrong, an element that excites the home audience.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! I believe takes all the elements of a truly live show and showcases them brilliantly. I feel as though when I am watching the show being aired, that I’m apart of the live audience. As an audience member, to an extent I can participate in segments, and feel the anticipation for what could happen next. Kimmel creates a personal connection with not only the live studio audience, but the audiences watching at home, which is why I think the show was, and continues to be so successful around the world.


Scannell, Paddy. Television and the meaning of ‘live’: an enquiry into the human situation. Polity Press, 2013. Scannell_chapter 7_The Meaning of Live, p 6

Lundell, Kroon Asa. “The design and scripting of ‘unscripted’ talk: liveness versus control in a TV broadcast interview” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 31, no. 2, 2009, p 273 The design and scripting of ‘unscripted’ talk- liveness versus control in a TV broadcast interview


The Useless Quiz : Live!

Production day! The actual day of filming is always my favourite, especially when I feel like we are some what prepared. Unlike the last assessment where I had the small job of being the vision switcher, I had a bigger role being our producer. Obviously, I was in no position like the director, but I still felt a bigger weight on my shoulders to make sure everything went according to plan.

My first main job was to go around and find three people to be the talent. Firstly I got Patrick to be our host. I did actually have some strategy in picking Patrick. I know him from my other classes, and I know that he’s super comfortable speaking in front of an audience, and being able to speak without a direct script, and make it sound natural. Perfect! I also asked Matt and Joey to be our quiz show contestants. I picked them, one, because they were talent for the first group, and they seemed pretty comfortable, and two, they’re friends! It was important for me to consider that the two people would be interacting with each other, meaning if they had never spoken to each other, it might have seemed a little uncomfortable, and possibly even heavily scripted.

I can’t speak completely on behalf of my entire group, especially the ones in the control room, as I didn’t see them much during the production, but from my view point, everything went smoothly. We stuck to the time schedule well, our cameras and audio were set up and working correctly, and overall, everyone seemed to have a good idea about what their role was on the day.

I want to say that our graphics were our downfall. For me, it could just be a personal thing, but I find that graphics on live shows should be used sparingly, and only if they are adding something to the shot, that could only be achieved through the particular graphic. The concept of having the gifs/pictures pop up for any relevant questions seemed good as a concept, however, I think they ended up making the shots look a bit messy and cluttered.

From a stylistic standpoint, I think this is something that we could improve on next time. Subtle graphics, text, maybe the odd image to support a statement or question would be good, but not just using them for the sake of.

For the next time I work on a production, I would like to focus on the stylistic elements of whatever we film. In particular, lighting. Without going into too much detail, I think setting the right mood through lighting is important, something I don’t think we really did. We had a very generic lighting set up. Obviously in such a small studio/setup, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to play with it a lot, but hopefully I can play around with it when we get to the bigger studios.

Overall I think our show as a whole was successful, but as always, there is things we could do better. Unlike the last time we worked together, our communication improved hugely, and we were able to achieve much better results.

some not-so-useless pre-production, for a pretty useless quiz

Pre-production is always the hardest thing for me to write about. I always feel like I’m talking about the exact same things. What I did right, and what I need to do better next time. Really, there’s always going to be a huge “what I could do better”.

Obviously pre-production started off with getting familiar with our crew, and assigning roles. I decided to take on the role of the producer. For me, I was expecting to have a whole lot of pressure before the production day, but that wasn’t so much the case. I’m not sure if this is because maybe, just maybe, we were actually organised this time, or maybe I wasn’t stepping up the role as strongly as I should have. I enjoy planning, and organising people, events, work, etc, but when it came to working with people that have done this sort of thing before, I felt as though I held back a bit (in pre-production at least).

My first idea was to have a sort of talk show. Discussing current affairs, and just anything that was going on in the news, and media in general over the week or so leading up to the live show. I was looking forward to this idea, but eventually we ended up just going with a quiz show. We were going to have to recruit people from other groups to lead and hold the discussions, which we found nobody wanted to do, as it became extra work on top of their own productions. Fair. So the quiz show was the new way to go.

We organised the general idea of the quiz, how many people we needed, and what sorts of questions we were going to ask. Other than this, pre-production just involved us communicating between one another, ensuring that we had all of our individuals jobs completed in time for the show.

From how it appeared on the day, our pre-production set us up pretty strongly on the day, and we were able to confidently go into our show knowing we were ready. I will talk more about the actual day of production in my next post.

When will my reflection show who I turly am?

I’m going to try and make this reflection as honest as possible.

Taking into consideration all the different aspects to this project, I think we went okay. As all good live studio productions, there were the technical difficulties. I like to think that this made for a more authentic experience… But let me expand. In one instance, I found it difficult as I hadn’t seen our particular show before. I watched a couple of clips, but it wasn’t enough for me to really understand how the comedy was portrayed in a technical sense. Next time I would definitely educate myself a little better. I find, as probably do most people, the way a shot is framed, or edited (in a sense of how shots are transitioned in live tv) plays a huge role in the comedic factor. Obviously for every sit-com it’s different. Shows like The Office find peak comedy in their breaking of the fourth wall. If I had understood the comedic style of Apartment 23 better, I think I could have used the cameras that we had available to our advantage.

Besides this, I guess it’s also important to reflect on the whole ‘doing’ part of the assessment. My role was to be the switcher. Pretty much, I switched between cameras during the live takes. Because it was a very simple setup, with only three cameras, which were all stationary, I think I probably had the easiest job of everyone in my group. The technical side of it was extremely easy to understand, which is encouraging going into later assessments, as when we get to bigger sets, with more cameras, I feel confident that I will be able to learn and grow in this area. My main problem though was communication with our director. Dale clearly had a vision of how he wanted the scene to play out, however when communicating shot changes to me, he seemed quite frantic. He 100% knew what he was doing, but due to maybe rushed planning, a few times he would tell me to switch to a camera, and once I had done that, realised he had mistakenly fed me the wrong camera number.

I also want to add a quick note about my thoughts on the audience, and being apart of it. Throughout the semester, we have discussed a lot about live studio audiences. It was interesting that we took the time to set up our live audience, but no groups (including my own) took advantage of that. At the time, I didn’t think twice about it, but watching the recorded clips and reflecting back, I’ve realised that we didn’t use our audience to it’s full advantage. A huge part of having that live studio audience, is to get the live reactions, and more specifically, the laughs from the audience. Seeing as we weren’t going to be editing these clips and adding in laugh tracks, it could have been beneficial to have someone signalling the audience to laugh, or just giving them the opportunity to laugh when they felt it was appropriate. Without the audience participation, in a way there was no point for it to be recorded live. As it mentions in the week 3 reading ‘sounding live’, Gina Giotta discusses the role that laughter plays, not only in the delivery of a comedic piece, but also in the audience response. Performers are encouraged by laughter, and in the end, it leads to a more polished, and confident piece of work.

With something as short and as planned as this, I absolutely think our communication should have been stronger. Technically as a team, we were very under control, it was our communication that really let us down. I think that we all understand where we went wrong, and how we can improve for the next assessment, which gives me a lot of confidence. I’m looking forward to exploring different roles, but also to grow in the role that i’ve already had a go at.

pre-production induction

Preparation… It’s strange how with live tv, there’s so much preparation, yet so little that you can really control. I think?

Before really getting into the actual assignment, we finally got to tour the new studios! I’ve actually never even stepped foot in a television studio so I was really looking forward to it. I can’t remember the name of our ‘tour guide’, but he showed us around the studios and gave us a super in depth talk about how everything works there. I would have loved to have been able to try out some of the equipment, but I understand that it’s all brand new, and I don’t actually know how to really use anything yet… I think the most interesting part for me personally, was the control room. That’s the space(?) that I am most interested in learning about and working in, so it was really cool to see just how huge the scale of everything really was.

Getting on to the technical part of the assignment, our group got assigned the scene from Apartment 23. Much to my disappointment that we didn’t get given The Good Place (aka one of my favourite shows right now). I probably didn’t do as much preparation as I should have. As a group, we didn’t really have a lot to do with each other, until we got to the time of actually setting up the broadcast. My personal preparation was kept pretty minimal. I watched a few clips from the show to try and get a basic understanding of what the show was about, so that we wouldn’t be going in too blind.

It’s strange taking a single-cam show, and trying to make it multi-cam. In my head, I sort of tried to think of it as a sort of Saturday Night Live (SNL) style approach. As well as this, when suggesting ideas to our director, I definitely just tried to think of what sort of techniques I would personally find funny, if something like this was actually on television. Since it was so small scale, we couldn’t get to adventurous in what we wanted to do, but I did suggest some closeup shots, because closeup shots can be funny… Right?

Not much more went into our planning, but personally, I think there should have been, despite how short the clip we were filming was.

Tell me what makes you feel (a)live

This week was definitely the most interesting, and eye opening class that we’ve had this semester, given that this is only the third one of course.

This week we got to go and explore the new studios which was incredible. I think we’ve all been mentally preparing ourselves for this assignment, but at the same time, to finally be able to see where we’d be working, and the scale of everything, really gave us the push forward that we needed.

Firstly we were given the grand tour. I won’t bore you with every little detail, but i’ll talk about the main studio/control room. For me, the most interesting part was actually the control room. As you might know from a couple of my previous blog posts, by the end of semester I want to have a go being the director. Seeing the scale of what i’ll (hopefully) be working with soon was exciting, and also daunting.

Moving forward to the more informational stuff, this weeks reading was about ‘Sounding Live’. Gina Giotta discusses the history of the notorious laugh track. To my surprise, the laugh track didn’t rise to fame in the television era, but even earlier in the 1930’s, when radio was booming. It was surprising to learn that before pre-recorded laugh tracks, there was real people used in studio, to make the presenter feel more comfortable while he was cracking jokes.

BUT what surprised me even more was, why was I so surprised? Thinking about television now, with shows such as The Project, the live studio audience acts as a live laugh track. The nature of laugh tracks (in whatever form) really have come full circle. Live studio audiences, however, nowadays do play a much bigger role than to just laugh. (but that is an entire other blog post in itself)

Laugh tracks aren’t something i’d really thought much into, but i’ve always linked it to 90’s/early 2000’s sitcoms, such as, How I Met Your Mother, Friends, and Blossom. In class, we watched a scene from the Big Bang Theory, with the laugh track removed, and sit coms like that, I absolutely understand now why they used/used to use laugh tracks.

Peri Peri Periscope

Livestream. It’s a word I, and I’m sure most of us are extremely aware of, however I can’t say I have much, or any experience using it. I’m a notorious Instagram Live skipper, and I don’t really plan on changing that. (Unless Chris Hemsworth happens to go live literally any time, anywhere).

Today however I used an app called Periscope for the first time. The app I found extremely easy to navigate and use, which was a plus. Social media livestreams are different to ones on tv, as they are usually unplanned, so the easy use of the app was perfect for that, because I didn’t exactly need to practice or learn how to do anything.

Personally, I found it difficult to find something interesting to film that was unplanned/unscripted. Obviously, my group and I were avoiding filming peoples faces, which you can imagine in the middle of Melbourne CBD, it was pretty difficult. I don’t think the unplanned live shows are for me.

When it comes to most online liveshows, to some extent there is a plan on what is going to be shown, or spoken about. Like the liveshow ‘#Tea4Tuesdays” that Ruth showed us, Stephen Colbert and his team had, not a script, but a planned topic to discuss. Audiences were able to anticipate what they were going to be watching. For fans of the liveshow, they can come back each week and know what they are getting into.

In some ways, there is a sense of excitement about a spontaneous livestream, the not knowing what might happen, or even better for the audience, what might go wrong. Maybe it depends on where you are, or who you are doing the livestream of/with, but for me personally, if I had been a random viewer tuning into my livestream, I would have turned it off pretty quick.

Maybe this just says more about me as a person, rather than the livestream?

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