What Happens During "Break" (TV Shows)

You know how all the talk show formatted shows have acknowledged breaks for commercials? Yeah, well, what happens during those breaks on the set? Obviously, we at home see commercials, but what does the studio audience see that we don’t?

Do they actually take a break? Does the host continue to interview/chat with the guest? Or is it just a formality since the show isn’t live?

Make-up touch-ups for one. Bathroom breaks for another.

I’ve been to a few tapings of the ‘Colbert Report’. Whenever it was time for a commercial break, there’d be a real break at the studio, but it was much shorter. Typically makeup would come out and ‘touch up’ Stephen, and he’d confer quietly with staff. It wasn’t nearly as long as an actual commercial break, either.

Everyone stays frozen in place for two minutes.

There is a huge difference between filmed live and broadcast live. The presidential debates were broadcast near-live, and there weren’t any commercials. Talk shows are filmed than edited, just like every other program.

I’m not sure how close to real-time SNL is, but just from watching it I notice that commercial breaks typically have larger set-changes or wardrobe.

At a taping of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, the band played during the “commercial breaks” or they showed a short “behind the scenes” video clip on the monitors. Conan talked with his guest or with staff during that time.

I’ve been to a Leno taping. During breaks the band plays and Jay chats with his guests. Right before the show starts (like just minutes before) Jay comes out in casual dress and warms up the audience and then vanishes to change. The show starts and Jay runs out in his suit. After the show ends, he and his guests would do some promos for that night’s show to air during the news break that precedes his show.

Depends on the program. On “The View,” for example, they have donkey shows.

British TV shows use a warm-up guy, a comedian who entertains the audience before the show and during intervals, to work the audience up with gags, etc and keep them at the required pitch of excitement.

On Letterman, the band plays and makeup is retouched and Letterman may talk with a producer. If a guest is in a hurry or two shows are being taped back to back, there is no real break.

Saturday Night Live is presumably Live. If you watch the order of skits and short films and musical acts and the news, they pace the logistics very carefully.

I went to a taping of Whom Do You Trust, Johnny Carson’s pre-Tonight game show. During the break he stayed on stage and made fun of the commercials. On Jeopardy the PAs ran and gave us contestants water during the first two, and we got to write the beginning of the question before final Jeopardy. The breaks seemed as long as the commercials would be.

Wow, I didn’t realize there was so much variety happening during those breaks. Thanks for the answers, folks.