• Acting for the Cameras: Performance in the Multi-Camera Sitcom

    Christine Becker (see profile)
    Television--Study and teaching, Performance art--Study and teaching, Acting, Comedy, Motion pictures--Production and direction, Television
    Item Type:
    Online publication
    sitcoms, comedy, Television studies, Performance studies, Comedy (genre), Film production
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    "The multi-camera sitcom is dying out. It'll go the way of the vaudeville variety show," remarks Janet Kagan, script supervisor on How I Met Your Mother. Steven Levitan, producer of Back To You, offers a different viewpoint: "I grew up watching Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and Cheers...They were incredibly meaningful, and I refuse to believe that human nature has changed that much." These quotes showcase a now-familiar debate: will the single-camera sitcom supplant the multi-camera sitcom? What is it that audiences today, especially in the highly desired 18-34 demographic, supposedly are not responding to in the traditional multi-cam sitcom? While opinions on these questions are voluminous, few, despite the centrality of performance to the reception of any format, have considered performance as a relevant component when comparing sitcom formats and predicting the future of the multi-cam. So I would instead like to ask, how does performance differ between the formats? Might performance have something to do with the ways in which audiences are currently responding to the formats? And if the traditional multi-cam does evolve into a different form or even dies out, what unique performance style might we essentially lose as a result?
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    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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