STRESS TEST

When attending a television series filming it is usually an exciting experience to get to see the stars at work.  But with a good warm up comedian sometimes the audience members can become one of the more memorable part of the evening! 

It was December 20th, 1991, and the anxious audience was led to their seats inside the studio where Perfect Strangers is filmed.  Once settled, an audio tape of classic show tunes and instrumentals began over the sound system, almost like an overture.  This was a traditional prelude to the filming of an episode of this show.

Shortly before the beginning of the show, the music faded and comedian Robert Lee jumped up, microphone in hand, to warm up the audience.  One of Robert's standard routines involved having someone from the audience come down to talk between takes and try to convince the person to sneak down on the set, walk through the front door during the next scene and introduce themselves as the Cousins' new neighbor.  Of course the people who were bold enough to actually try were stopped by pages before going on the stage.  But this night would be different.  This time Robert decided to give an unsuspecting female audience member a tour of the stage before the show and took her down with him.  As they were wandering around, the actors came out and the young girl was not expecting to see them.  Bronson walked right beside her and when she turned around and saw him she let out a loud scream!  She was just surprised and excited!  Robert led her back into the audience then introduced the cast and filming was underway.

At the first reset, the director called out, "Overlap for me, Bronson," which means they were to back up a line or two before the reset so the editor can decide exactly where to cut and not have a problem.  Later, when Larry is rambling about the psychiatrist, Mark lost his train of thought and came out with "You have to tell them what they want to hear . . . I wish I knew why."  Someone offstage fed Mark his next line and Mark replied, "That's why!"

Cut from this first scene was Balki's first impersonation of Richard Simmons (he does it later in the show in front of a mirror) and one of Larry's lines in which he explains that "they won't let you back into the cafeteria when they find out you've been stealing the artificial sweetener," which was replaced with Balki laughing at Cousin Larry's "joke."

Everything went fine up until the tests.  Scene E was identified by Sean as Scene "Ethiopia" and a girl in the audience who told Robert she was from that country squealed with delight when they said it!

During the test sequence Bronson had trouble keeping the patch on his neck and the tongue depressor in his mouth!  But somehow it all came together.  It took a while to film these sequences, as they had to move the cameras to shoot the reactions of the doctor and nurse as well as shoot the test itself.  During one of the reaction shots from the doctor's office, Bronson and Mark stepped into the office and reacted with them at the empty room on the other side!  Between scenes, Sean helped Robert entertain the audience by waving a blown up surgical glove in front of the cameras going to the audience monitors and the guys on the crew showed everyone a video of Sean skydiving!

At one point Bronson came up to the railing and the girl he had startled onstage came running down and shook his hand then ran back up to her seat, screaming and screaming!  Apparently she was very excited about getting to be near Bronson!

During the scene when the fan blows the colored papers around, one piece of paper flew up onto Mark's face and stayed there!  The reaction was so positive that when they shot a pick up for that scene a prop person had to try to get another piece of paper to stay on his face in exactly the same way!

When the test was over, the doctor announced "Time's up!" and Mark followed this with his line, "And so is my career . . . what's next?"  Later, someone sneezed offstage and Bronson yelled out, "God bless you!"

Once the filming was done, Bronson and Mark answered questions from the audience.  Someone asked what the two did before Perfect Strangers and Bronson jokingly answered that they were both institutionalize, "and then in the mid-80's Lorimar started this adoption program . . . "  When asked if they spend time together outside the studio, Mark stiffened, then jumped into Bronson's arms while Bronson did donkey ears behind Mark's head.  For everyone concerned (and most especially that one lucky audience member) it was an evening to remember! 

Continue to Weekend at Ferdinand's report