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Eternity yawns at a taping of Will & Grace

So I'm only back from Europe for ONE DAY. I walked my feet off during my trip and I'm jet lagged to the nth degree. All I really want to do is lie in my recliner and moan. But friends and I had tickets to see a taping of Will & Grace, one of the few sitcoms I actually like (even though I admit I haven't watched it religiously), and it's damned hard to get tickets to see the really hot sitcoms -- we got the tickets a month in advance.

So we went.

The tapings start at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. We were in the remote parking lot just before 2:00, and there were already twenty people in line. We obediently got into line and waited. And waited. And waited. Two hours later, they shuttled us to CBS (yes, CBS, not NBC: it seems that it doesn't matter where you film), and we stood awhile more in the sun. At 4:30 or so, they stuffed us into seats that (to me) strongly resembled airline seats, and we waited. And waited.

Okay, it was really, really funny. Will & Grace is a well-written show with an exceptionally funny cast, and it was a lot of fun to see the standing sets that we all know so well.

They brought out the cast first. Eric McCormack took the mike and talked to us; he told us to laugh extra hard at his jokes. Later, while they were still prepping, the cast did some clowning, probably for us: Megan Mullally came out with two small, red foam balls stuffed in her bra; Debra Messing took them out and put them down her pants to pad her crotch. Sean Hayes was next, making fake boobies under his shirt. Sounds stupid, but it was pretty funny.

They started filming with the first scene first, and went right through to the end. (It was the first taping of the season, but the second episode since they're going to do the premiere live.) The plot was about (1) Karen dealing with the fact that Stan was still alive, and (2) Grace's inadvertent stint as a guest on "Jack-Talk."

The cast is fabulous, I have to say that. There were several R-rated bloopers; Eric McCormack deliberately changed his lines to something obscene a couple of times in order to get the audience to relax and laugh, bless his heart, and he is VERY funny. (You have to be 18 to get tickets, by the way: no innocent children around to be corrupted by an occasional "fuck.") Megan Mullally did a crash-in entrance to Will's apartment that she flubbed and she actually fell. Sean Hayes had to do a slapstick entrance to his talk show three times. Debra Messing had a long diatribe near the end that was very hard to do, and she did it extremely well. They're all so funny that it wasn't hard at all to laugh at something more than once; and they often changed a line the second time so that it was even funnier.

But the thing about tapings is this. It's great while they're actually taping and you're watching the talented cast do their thing, even if you see them do it two or three times. But in between tapings, the writers and director are all in a busy huddle and it just takes forever, and you're sitting there trapped in your airline seat while the fluffer is trying to make you laugh. It's fun for a couple of hours, and then it gets very old. Especially if you're still suffering from extreme jet lag and ten days of a hell of a lot of walking.

We didn't leave until after 11:00 p.m., and even then, we had to be walked across the lot and bussed over to the remote parking lot. Yes, count that up. We arrived before 2:00, and left after 11:00. Over nine hours. I've been on transcontinental flights that were shorter than that. I've done shifts at work that were shorter than that.

So if you ever go to one of these things, be prepared to make a serious commitment. Take water and provisions, and something to read. Wear comfortable shoes. Get a good night's sleep the night before. And don't go if you have serious jet lag, take it from me.

(Note: The episode title was "I Second That Emotion," season eight, episode two.)
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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