Another win for “Live in Front of a Studio Audience”

From left: Kathryn Hahn, Gabrielle Union, and Allison Tolman as Jo, Tootie, and Natalie, respectively

From left: Kathryn Hahn, Gabrielle Union, and Allison Tolman as Jo, Tootie, and Natalie, respectively

Noa Rabkin, Contributing Writer

Long time producer Norman Lear and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel hosted the third annual “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” on Dec. 7. Actors from this generation perform an episode from a classic sitcom produced by Norman Lear. A couple of years ago, actors performed episodes from “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” and “The Jeffersons.”

The cast included Jennifer Aniston as Blair, Kathryn Hahn as Jo, Allison Tolman as Natalie, Ann Dowd as Mrs. Garrett and Gabrielle Union as Tootie, performing the “The Facts of Life” episode titled “Kids Can Be Cruel.” Throughout this episode, there were cameos from comedians Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Jon Stewart who played Blair’s nerdy classmate, hoping to score a date with her.

As well as “The Facts of Life,” actors performed an episode from the 1980’s comedy series titled “Diff’rent Strokes.” Kevin Hart led the cast as Arnold, and even wore the iconic “Super Arnold” costume. Ann Dowd was back as Mrs. Garrett, John Lithgow was Mr. Drummond and Damon Wayans played Willis, Arnold’s older brother. Snoop Dogg made a special appearance as one of Willis’ friends, scoring a standing ovation and loud applause from the in-person audience. Throughout the special, Jimmy Kimmel said he was afraid that Snoop would swear on live television, but Lear had other plans.

“We were worried that Snoop would curse on the air,” Kimmel said. “And sure enough, Norman dropped an f-bomb right at the top of the show.”

There were instances throughout the special when the actors couldn’t contain their laughter. Aniston and Hahn started to break character when Union’s character, Tootie, read a note from a slam book full of gossip about their peers: “There’s only one thing wrong with Maggie Ellis: She’s got enough whiskers to make a walrus jealous.” Mrs. Garrett looked surprised, then the camera panned back to Hahn, who was cracking up. Then, Aniston couldn’t help but laugh as the two actors attempted to hide their faces.

Union chuckled over her lines as she attempted to explain the nicknames given to Jon Stewart’s character, Carl “Rocky” Price, causing Tolman and Hahn to burst into laughter.

After watching the special, my favorite part was when the actors broke character. It made the whole special so much better, seeing that the actors aren’t always professional. The acting was amazing as well and overall, I think this was the best special yet. Last year’s performance of “All in the Family” and “Good Times” was great, but this year’s performances were so much better. The cast was incredible, the set looked phenomenal, and the costumes looked exactly like they did when worn by the original actors. Last year, the special premiered during the Christmas season, so they performed Christmas episodes.

The Christmas episodes were also interesting to watch because the audience could relate to the characters and plots of the episodes that were performed. I’m excited to see what Lear and Kimmel come up with next year. Hopefully they will perform an episode of “One Day at a Time,” my favorite Norman Lear sitcom.