TV laugh tracks need to disappear



By Colin Remes

Laugh tracks need to be done away with.

They are obnoxious, annoying and if you need to be told where the punchline of a joke was, then it was a bad joke.

However, there is a scientific purpose for using them. Those in communication studies refer to it as the “density intensity” effect. Say you’re at a movie theater watching a comedy. There are seven patrons in that theater. Their laughter and your laughter will not be as loud or as long per joke told. But when that theater is full, a joke that on your own you may have found chuckle worthy, becomes uproariously hilarious.

The same can be said for horror movies. Basically, the more people are watching a movie of any genre, the emotion that movie is conveying is increased as the population of fellow viewers is increased.

Television isn’t like the movies; there is never a laugh track. I get the rationale behind it. However, with so many people now educated better on media manipulation, it seems pointless. The idea of fake laughter isn’t what modern television is about. I will turn off shows that have laugh tracks because I just get irritated when they insert something that didn’t actually happen into places where the jokes aren’t even considered funny by me.

Shows like Two and Half Men, and the worst primetime sitcom offender, Whitney, get on my nerves with the guffawing of an audience that laughs after many takes of a scene. These shows are “filmed before a live studio audience,” but laugh tracks are still inserted because the audience may not be laughing at certain key moments when a joke is told. The live audience isn’t going to laugh that loudly every time because that audience is subjected to several takes of the same scene.

Shows like Community, 30 Rock, Archer, Californication, Weeds and the like are hysterical all on their own, and they don’t need laugh tracks. The writers of those shows know how to write jokes, and the actors know how to deliver them properly. I love those shows, and I laugh out loud at them all the time. I don’t need to be persuaded by someone else’s laughter.

Laugh tracks are used because the writers of shows are either lazy or untalented. I am certain without the use of laugh tracks, shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and How I Met Your Mother would thankfully be cancelled, and I wouldn’t have to hear anybody talk about how great they are anymore. They’re not. If you think they’re funny, you’re being tricked.