Either way works, although originally I thought of it as 'The It crowd' (as in "it is over there"), as it was a pun on both 'The It Crowd' and 'The In Crowd', two groups that my guys certainly don't belong to. I'm also completely happy with people saying 'The I.T. Crowd'.
The show is a joke-based, unrealistic sitcom, so it felt right to do it in front of a crowd. Also, I wanted to have the discipline of doing it in front of an audience because you tend to write many more jokes in the final week of rehearsal; the actors work really hard to wring all the laughs they can out of a situation because they're so terrified of an audience sitting there in silence, so it keeps all of us on our toes.
No way, no how. I know that's how some will take it but in the end it's very much a celebration of geekdom, geekery, whatever. I consider myself a geek and I'm proud of it.
Well, everything I see, whether I like it or not, is an influence. I'm always trying to achieve that tight structure that 'Seinfeld' had in their best shows, with not a line or moment wasted, all the plot elements clicking like clockwork and leading up to a climax that ties everything together. I was, like everyone else, blown away by 'The Simpsons', and wanted to at least try to achieve the same level of visual inventiveness in live-action. But I love things like 'Laurel and Hardy' as well--the scene in 'Calamity Jen' where they come into the stress class is a direct reference to 'Sons of The Desert', right down to Roy catching his hand at the end.