So at the taping last night we checked in as VIPs, had reserved seats in the front row right in front of the guys' apartment, and when it ended were given purple wristbands to get backstage. Once we were back there, Simon greeted us, and started by handing us each a folder that contained a cast picture signed by himself, Jim, Johnny, Kunal, and Kaley.
Between the crew, guest stars, and other lucky guests, it was still quite busy down on the stage, and at first Simon was often stopped to be introduced to someone. But I took those opportunities to take as many pictures of the sets and prop details as I could, relishing the chance to finally see things up close.
We spent time in the guys' apartment first. After Simon gave us the okay to take pictures, but not physically take anything (of course!), I heard him telling someone that when his mom used to take him on sets as a kid, he would take little things like pieces of paper - things no one would notice, just because he could. When I took a picture of a chess set I'd noticed during the taping, which I didn't recognize, Simon commented that it must be new, because he didn't remember seeing it before. And when we peeked through the door that led to the "bathroom" from the hallway, we found a toilet and an open space that led further backstage - Simon recommended against using that toilet!
Of course, we took turns having our picture taken sitting in Sheldon's spot (with Simon on the couch next to us!), and I also got a picture sitting in Leonard's armchair. We went to Penny's apartment next (I was excited to get a good look at the pictures on her fridge), and I also scoped out the laundry room for good measure.
Throughout the tour Simon was very friendly and talkative - asking where we were from, and very surprised that Carl and his two friends had flown out from Texas just for the taping. Simon also talked a little about how he and his wife are expecting, and said she's due at the end of May - he said they didn't plan it to coincide with his summer hiatus from work, but it ended up working perfectly. He talked about living in LA and the different areas nearby (he lives only about 10 minutes from the studios), and when I mentioned I went to school in Malibu, he said he'd also lived there for a while.
I also made sure to tell Simon that his line about eating a butterfly was one of the funniest moments from the whole season, really the whole scene, and he was very appreciative.
While wandering backstage I had seen Kunal, Wil Wheaton, and Kevin Sussman, but didn't have a chance to say hi to any of them. But before we left, Simon went to find Kunal so we could meet him too. Kunal recognized me right away, and asked surprised, "What are you doing down here?" At Simon's confusion, Kunal said that he sees me almost nearly every week in the audience. (Since Kunal often sticks around to sign autographs, I usually get a brief chance to say hi as he signs my program for the week.) Then Simon said that makes sense, because he thought I looked familiar.
Kunal's wife was also there with him, so I told them both that I'd seen some of their wedding pictures, and they were beautiful, and congratulated them. Simon then joked that it was just a "small wedding." (If you haven't seen the pics, check them out here.) I told both Kunal and Simon that last night would be my last taping for the season, so when Kunal left he told me "see you next year, probably!"
In all it was a dream come true to actually walk the sets, and I can't thank Carl enough for letting me come, or Simon Helberg for offering the opportunity in the first place.
If you'd like to see all of my pictures from last night, you can view them in my new Flikr album here, or in the slideshow below: