Why the ‘Perfect Strangers’ Cast Often Danced After Live Tapings of the Show

Filming for any TV show usually takes a lot of hours to get one scene right. After all the rehearsals, makeup touch-ups, and acting, actors typically get tired.

If the show is taped in front of a live audience, sitting through every scene can get exhausting. However, the Perfect Strangers audience found a way to beat the fatigue after each live taping, and it was through asking the lead actors to dance. 

Producers did the first few episodes of the show in a hurry

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Perfect Strangers was a show that featured two cousins as they navigated life. The show starts as Larry has just moved into his apartment when he receives a visit from his cousin Balki from the fictional island of Mypos. His life is disrupted, and he finds himself lacking the privacy he had sought by finding his apartment.

However, the two cousins grow closer as the show progresses and Larry mentors Balki on how to live in America. Over time the pair find happiness in relationships that end in marriage. Perfect Strangers producers found inspiration to create the iconic show after watching the 1984 Olympics.

Dale McRaven and Robert Boyett got to thinking about exploring culture shock after watching international athletes experience life in America. The two, therefore, sought to build a series around the kind of plot they’d found with the Olympics.

When the producers forwarded the script to ABC, the network loved the show’s premise. They believed that sitting on the script for a long time might lead to the series getting lost amidst the various new shows starting in the fall of 1986.

Instead, the network proposed that the producers hastily make six episodes to premiere in the winter of 1986. For the creative team to pull this off, they taped episodes in record time, with the sitcom going on air three weeks after they’d shot the first scene. This ultimately meant that the cast and crew didn’t get enough time to rehearse as episodes aired one week after rehearsals.

Pinchot took the role because “he wasn’t in a position to turn down anything”

Mark Linn-Bake and Bronson Pinchot
Mark Linn-Bake and Bronson Pinchot | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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After thinking of a concept for a show, Perfect Strangers producers began assembling a cast. Their obvious choice for the foreigner Balki was Bronson Pinchot. However, Pinchot was already committed to another show on NBC titled Sara. As fate would have it, Sara got canceled, and Pinchot ended up joining the Perfect Strangers cast.

However, before landing his life-changing role, Pinchot had a supporting part in the film Risky Business alongside Tom Cruise. Pinchot said in an interview that Cruise realized Pinchot was low on funds and offered to lend the struggling actor some money.

Cruise’s offer came with a fair warning to Pinchot. “Whatever you do, don’t do it,” allegedly cautioning Pinchot against ever doing television. The relatively unknown actor at the time told Cruise that he (Pinchot) wasn’t Cruise and thus “wasn’t in a position to turn down anything.”

Why did the cast dance after every live taping

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After every taping, Pinchot, who played Balki, and Mark Linn-Baker, who played Larry, would get back on stage and ask the audience if they had any questions.

According to Mental Floss, the audience members would request they do a happy dance usually referred to as “the Dance of Joy.”

The dance was Balki’s piece of performance art and was a sigh of relief that the taping was over. It also meant to show the actors (or characters) gratitude that Perfect Strangers was a hit with viewers everywhere, and Linn-Baker and Pinchot would comply with the audience’s request.