TV Show Tapings in Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Kent Kanouse, Flickr

If you're a television junkie familiar with the refrain, "taped before a live studio audience," there's a pretty good chance that audience was somewhere in or near Los Angeles.

Over the course of a typical day in L.A., dozens of shows — ranging from sitcoms to talk shows such as The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to reality competitions like Dancing With the Stars — may be taping in front of a group of people getting a first live look at a TV star, especially if it's during peak production season between August and March

There are also TV pilots being shot, giving audiences a chance at early bragging rights if the show becomes hit. Best of all, TV show tapings are free, making them an affordable part of anyone's to-do list. Here’s a quick how-to guide.

Order In Advance

The best way to get tickets is to order in advance through vendors such as Audiences Unlimited or Hollywood Tickets, both of which feature sitcoms and talk shows. TV Tix and 1iota are also good resources for talk shows, and On Camera Audiences specializes in reality TV shows. For groups of 10 or more, Audiences Unlimited, which distributes tickets for shows like The Big Bang Theory and Dr. Phil, has a group department general number. Call 818.260.0041, ext. 7321.

If you can’t find tickets through any online vendors, check the show’s website. Some talk shows such as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and The Ellen DeGeneres Show offer tickets directly through their sites.

Standby Tickets

Another way to get tickets is to try your luck with standby tickets. Just like with airlines, standby means you wait in line and if any seats open up, you’re free to go in. Here are a couple shows that offer the possibility of "flying" standby:

  • The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!

TV Show Taping Tips

Get the most out of your TV show taping experience by knowing before going. A few helpful tips:

  • Get there early…really early: Studios overbook their tickets, so it’s a good idea to show up at least 90 minutes early to wait in line. If you get there too late, you may not get in.
  • Plan to be there for about three to four hours: Sitcoms can take a while to film, and the audience is required to stay for the entire duration.
  • Bring layers: Studios are notoriously cold, since all the lights and cameras heat everything up.
  • Dress for a cameo: Want to get on camera? Studio staff place the best-dressed audience members up front, where you’re most likely to get filmed.
  • Be ready to get carded: Kids shows like Pair of Kings allow anyone 12 or older, but America's Funniest Home Videos has an age minimum of 16, and the minimum for shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Price is Right is 18. And make sure to bring ID.
  • Location, location, location: "Hollywood" doesn't always mean Hollywood when it comes to TV taping locations. While shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Dr. Phil are taped in Hollywood, The Big Bang Theory is taped in Burbank, while America's Funniest Home Videos is taped in Manhattan Beach.