Movies & Television

The Big Bang Theory Vanity Cards: A Peek into the Mind of Chuck Lorre

Anyone who has watched The Big Bang Theory has probably noticed a quick flash of something at the end of each episode. Some of you may have even paused the TV or rewinded the show just to see what was going on.  Those of you who have done this are in on the secret.  For those of you who have not, you will now probably be firing up your DVRs or running to your laptops to stream TBBT…we will wait.

The Big Bang Theory creator, Chuck Lorre, posts various vanity cards at the end of each episode of the show for exactly 1 second of airtime.  These cards include everything from politics, life, humor, and anecdotes to pictures of cast members, poems and even a “PETITION FOR IMMEDIATE CHANGE IN THE CONDITION OF EXISTENCE.

These cards are sometimes funny, sometimes quirky, sometimes even emotional and contemplative.  For instance, on one vanity card, he says, “Years later I learned that pain could also be the touchstone for personal growth…” This is a pretty profound insight for a card flashed for only a few moments longer than the blink of an eye. 

Sometimes he even manages humor in just one caption, like in this great card:

He even toyed with the idea of giving up vanity cards altogether such as in vanity card #463 when he said, “It’s time to write the last vanity card. Which is what this is. So… Thank you.”  Since at that point he had over 18 years invested in writing these cards, it was hard to believe he was truly going to call it quits.  In #354 he even talked about giving up working in “this business” altogether. 

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Lorre’s geeky side also comes through many times in the vanity cards as well.  One of the best displays of this is in vanity card #468:

Or in vanity card #237 where he explains what a linear asymptote is.  Another great example is when he shows his to-do list and how he would like to “Meet super-intelligent aliens who disarm the entire planet, cure every disease and take us all for rides across the galaxy.”  He even has a vanity card (#461) where he shows a nice picture of a Rhombicosidodecahedron.

Sometimes he offers some insight into the writing of The Big Bang Theory, as well as provides a bit of behind-the-scenes information.  For instance, in #202 he talks about how the idea of Sheldon being shown up by a young prodigy actually was a story about his own life when he was auditing a jazz class.  Sitting there all proud with his worn guitar, a 16-year old showed up to teach the class leaving him feeling a bit humiliated.  As it turns out this young man was Pat Metheny; but still, this moment crushed his ego and changed his life by pushing him into writing television shows.

In #503 he talks about how in the TBBT episode that featured Richard Feynman’s van, the van was really Richard Feynman’s van!  He also talks about how there is no laugh track in The Big Bang Theory in #537, which might be surprising to some people.

Perhaps some the best Lorre cards are when he is showing off his poetry skills. Sometimes the poems are a bit silly like #372 where he talks about his morning rush to the bathroom. In another, he makes up a funny poem and jokingly attributes it to Ralph Waldo Emerson in #350.

Other times his poems are a bit more serious like #225. 

Some are a mixture of both like in #196.

Other times he waxes philosophical.  In #361 he talks about how we are all just “dust in the wind.”  Another entitled “Zen Noir” (#186) discusses the time he felt a moment of existential angst and loneliness, along with the realization of how American culture pushes people into a hollow existence.  Many times he talks about God and in #482 explains his dependence on a being that he is not quite sure how to define. 

But enough seriousness…

Check out the Chuck Lorre TBBT vanity cards and let us know which are your favorites in the comments below.

Author Bio: The Tech Geek

I have been a geek for over 30 years and a computer geek for 25.  Growing up my favorite pastimes were building computers and fooling around in DOS.  You can find me over at https://thegeekstreet.com where I write articles on geek-related topics.

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