Chuck Lorre is the producer of hit TV shows Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory. A few years ago, he got the idea of using the "vanity card" (production logo that identifies his production company, and airs for about half a second after the closing credits of his TV shows) to rant about one topic or another.
This practice began with Dharma & Greg in September, 1997. In vanity card #1, Chuck Lorre thanked the people who videotaped the show, and freeze-framed the vanity card long enough to read it, and then proceeded to rant about people who think they can write but can't, people who think directing is something only certain people have sufficient talent to do, which of the three stooges is underrated, and other opinions of the kind that might trigger bar fights.
Have you ever stumbled very slowly upon something wonderful? That was my experience with Lorre's vanity cards. After ignoring for years what I must have dismissed as so much "fine print" I heard about them on a podcast, (now I can't remember which one, but it was probably a Slate gabfest, or a similar free-wheeling chat show). I let the idea rattle around in my head for a few days, and then noticed the card after Two and a Half Men, which airs back-to-back in reruns. After the second episode one day, I managed to hit "freeze frame" on the TV at exactly the right time. For weeks, now, I've been seeing—and freezing—these vanity cards, some of which hint that there's a place to see them besides at the end of this TV show (the Internet, of course). Well, today, I finally got around to googling for it, and it wasn't hard to find. At first, I thought I would just put up a few samples on my website, so they would be here for a good laugh, in case anyone else needs to discover them for the first time and arrive here before going to their source. But then, after reading them for many hours, some very interesting themes emerged.
1. Censorship troubles Lorre, especially the way it is applied unfairly to vulgar (Vulgar means "ordinary". Look it up.) sexual humor rather than hateful violence. Vanity cards 226, 217 (itself censored), 155, and 133 deal with censorship in one way or another. Besides 217, Cards 223, 233, 198, 178, and 171 were themselves censored. 172 tells a joke that was cut from the show because even Lorre agrees it was too raunchy for TV.
2. Writing is hard work, and underappreciated as evidenced by Lorre's tongue-in-cheek job descriptions (207). He distrusts illogical poetic metaphors (165). Cards 149, 143, 1 and writtenby illustrate how hard it is to come up with ideas. Excerpts of hilariously poorly written stories include 151 and the absolutely hilarious 126.
3. Poking fun at studio executives (223, 197, 161, 152, 140, and 47) and even funnier is demonstrating the low value of the studios by offering to buy them (115, 52) or their current CEO by offering to lead them (116).
4. Getting older (191, 179, 142, and 64)
5. Wanting to be a guitar player, and then reluctantly switching to TV writing (202, 139, 128, and 28)
6. Lack of appreciation: Reviews are bad (163). The Golden Globe voters are fickle (148, 123, and 54). No Emmy (185 and 141). No Writers Guild award (54).
7. The Internet and the strikes over it: 198, 197, and 76.
8. Governor Schwarzenegger is the butt of cards 167 and the oft displayed 111.
9. That Levi Johnston knocked up Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, was the subject of cards 230 and 218.
Selected Chuck Lorre vanity cards:
Chuck Lorre: the complete text of all his vanity cards, including the ones that were censored by CBS.
IMDB: Chuck Lorre
Wikipedia: Chuck Lorre