The Warm-Up Guy

I’m a longtime, confessed and incurable WKRP in Cincinnati fan, so finding this gag reel on YouTube made me quite happy. It’s mostly just a typical gag reel – people say their lines wrong, everybody laughs, and the crew is amused – but it’s still fun to see.


Note that the creator of the show, Hugh Wilson, is doing the warm-up, and as a friend pointed out, he’s more easy-going than professional warm-up guys tend to be. The warm-up job (and there is a warm-up on almost any type of show with an audience) usually goes to a professional comedian whose job it is to keep the audience hyped up at all times. But at that time, some shows still had the warm-up done by a writer, who might or might not be a performer at all, and they often entertained the audience with laid-back anecdotes or goofy writers’ room schtick, like Stan Daniels’ routine (on The Mary Tyler Moore Show) about an old Jewish man performing Ol’ Man River. I’m not sure that could happen today, since tapings usually take longer, are more complicated, and have more retakes; the audience has to be worked up more. And a bad warm-up can have a surprisingly big effect on the show; James L. Brooks has said that one of the reasons the first taping of the MTM pilot bombed is that he did the warm-up himself, and wasn’t any good at it.

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