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screenshot of the SNL video "Black Stereotype Sketch" https://youtu.be/BKPi66Us27Q "Louis Gossett Jr. and Eddie Murphy refuse to continue a stereotypical black father/son sketch and confront the writer saying they loved their fathers. In fact, Eddie's father is in the audience and tells him he loves him live on TV. Season 8, 1982"

The caption for the SNL video Black Stereotype Sketch reads:

Louis Gossett Jr. and Eddie Murphy refuse to continue a stereotypical black father/son sketch and confront the writer saying they loved their fathers. In fact, Eddie's father is in the audience and tells him he loves him live on TV. [Season 8, 1982]

Is this a real view of where the actual audience would sit at the time, behind (relative to the cameras), directly against and above the stage? Did this skit break the fourth wall, or is this physical arrangement unique and part of the skit itself?

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    I have been in studio 8H on a tour, although not for a live show. The audience faces the main stage, where the host stands. There is quite a large area below and in front of the audience where the sets are built for skits. This 360 degree virtual tour by Will Ferrell gives a pretty good idea of the layout. You will need to pan around while the video is running to see everything, it's best to follow Will as he walks around. To answer your question requires knowing if this was a common set arrangement for a skit, facing away from the audience. Feb 6 at 15:22
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    @StevePemberton oh that is excellent! Thanks, it really clears things up for me. I had always thought the skits took place on the stage and the sets were shuttled back and forth backstage.
    – uhoh
    Feb 6 at 15:34
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    @uhoh Occasionally at the end of a sketch the camera will pull back and you'll see something like the above image.
    – Barmar
    Feb 6 at 16:47
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    Breaking the 4th wall doesn't require actually showing the audience, it's any action or dialogue that acknowledges that this is a performance. They broke the 4th wall the moment Murphy said he didn't want to continue. The caption is misleading in saying that they refuse to continue -- that IS the joke of the sketch.
    – Barmar
    Feb 6 at 16:58
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    @Barmar - I remember watching reruns of Burns and Allen, not only would George talk to the camera, he sometimes viewed what other people were doing on a TV set. I seem to remember the Skipper sometimes looking at the camera when Gilligan did something especially dumb (as opposed to just normally dumb). For real third wall breaking there was It's Garry Shandling's Show. I remember one episode where he wanted to talk to a neighbor so he stepped off the living room set and got into a golf cart and drove across the soundstage to the other set. Feb 6 at 17:43

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Assuming you mean the elevated position of the audience, then yes.

A quick google search shows images of the Saturday Night Live studio with the elevated section.

enter image description here

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    "Yes" is a rather confusing answer when there are multiple different either-or questions in the title and body. Also, this picture doesn't show quite the same configuration the OP is asking about - the audience and cast are facing each other here, we don't have actors facing the cameras instead of the audience. The audience is elevated, but they're not seated behind the set here. Feb 6 at 17:09
  • @NuclearHoagie This comment and the one that follows it address that. It's necessary to establish if this is a real audience or an extension of the skit, and whether speaking to a plant in the audience (part of the skit) is a complete or only partial 4th-wall breaking.
    – uhoh
    Feb 6 at 23:10
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    @uhoh - showing the audience in itself broke the 4th wall, even if the father hadn't been sitting in the audience. And talking to his (supposed) real life father would have been breaking the 4th wall even if they didn't show the audience and instead his father had walked onto the set. A fake audience would still break the 4th wall, unless the sketch was about making a TV show. Then again that sort of was what the sketch was about. But the audience wasn't playing an audience they were a real audience. If it sounds like I'm contradicting myself probably I am. You picked a good one. Feb 7 at 16:02

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