Television and stage veteran Johnny Galecki is wrapping up his third season on "The Big Bang Theory,” and while co-star Jim Parsons has been getting more of the awards attention as antisocial super-genius Sheldon, Galecki’s slightly less socially awkward Leonard gets to enjoy an on-again, off-again romantic storyline with neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco).

Were you glad the writers brought Penny and Leonard together relatively early instead of dragging it out?

[Executive producer] Chuck Lorre said it best that dangling that romance carrot over an audience’s head for a long period of time for many, many seasons has been done a lot, and it’s been done very, very well a lot. You know, Leonard has no experience in romance, and I think that Penny’s experience in romance has not been all that profound or significant.

How do you relate to your character?

I wasn’t a science geek. I was a theater geek, and I think that’s how all four of us guys can relate to our characters. I’m from Chicago where if you’re not a jock, then you’re not the most popular kid by any means. Jim is from Texas, where that must be the case even more so. So, you know, that’s something that we all share with our characters, and I think that refuge that people find in fantasy and science fiction is common when you feel like an outsider growing up. I didn’t have all that many friends, but I had action figures to go home and play with, comic books to read.

With a studio audience, how do you cope when a joke fails?

It depends on how drastic their lack of a reaction is. It’s funny because you expected the laugh there for so long that you just start laughing. I’ve just fallen flat on my face, haven’t I? The writers are right there, and they’re great. It’s amazing how in 30 seconds they’ll have six alternatives for that joke that’s conducive to the scene, the timing, and the people in it.