It’s a staple of any popular modern sitcom: The laugh track.
I could say anything – literally anything – funny or not, and make it sound like I said the world’s funniest joke, just with the push of a button.
But of course, if you’re going to be using laugh tracks on your show, there’s going to be tons of awkward unnatural pauses in your conversation to allow that pre-recorded audience to get all their chuckles out. I don’t know about you folks, but usually when I have a conversation with someone, there’s usually not much time between a statement and a reply. You all know basic conversation, right?
So what if we took the classic show FRIENDS, and removed the laugh track from it? Would it still be as funny? Let’s find out.
I will admit, I was never a huge fan of Friends. I never had a real problem with it either, but I know a ton of people my age for whom it is their favourite show. When it first came to Netflix, my girlfriend went on a spree of watching the entire series, so I got exposed to a bunch of it that way, but I’m certainly no expert on the series. It does seem a little less funny without those laugh tracks… Which is a little odd, because if you remove the music from the intro, it actually becomes like 10x funnier:
Here’s a few more examples of Friends minus the laugh track:
Friends is far from the only sitcom to use the ol’ laughtrack, as I said earlier. And you know? The lack of a laugh track doesn’t really detract from the show too much. The jokes are still there, they just take longer to happen with those awkward silences stuck in.
Yes, Friends is nowhere near as bad for laugh track overuse as is one of the most vapid sitcoms currently out there in my opinion: Big Bang Theory.
Honestly, I’ve never really enjoyed the show. Admitted, I’ve never really tried to enjoy it – but I have watched it on numerous occasions when there’s literally nothing else on, and it actually motivated me to go outside and do something. It’s a show that relies FAR too heavily on laugh tracks to make a pretty lacklustre script seem hilarious. Case in point:
And here’s another example:
Don’t believe that the laugh track is making these shows funnier? Well it works the other way too. To illustrate that, here’s a clip from the excellent Coen Brothers film No Country For Old Men. If you haven’t seen the movie, this is a particularly tense scene that actually seems kinda funny with laugh tracks added:
So I guess a solid laugh track really IS a substitute for a solid script in Hollywood these days.