1 (edited by lighton 2020-12-01 12:43:20)

Topic: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

ADMIN EDIT: This discussion was split off the "The importance of shows having a proper ending" thread at https://forum.next-episode.net/viewtopic.php?id=10459

---

selecta wrote:

(How are they still doing sitcoms with laugh tracks, for instance?)

I see a lot of people complain about that, but honestly? It hasn't really ever bothered me. It's just a thing in the background, just tune it out. Beyond that, those shows are some light comedy with some story added to it and absolutely still enjoyable. I would not seek most of them out, but also don't usually turn them off.

2 (edited by selecta 2020-12-01 06:51:53)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

some_one wrote:
selecta wrote:

(How are they still doing sitcoms with laugh tracks, for instance?)

I see a lot of people complain about that, but honestly? It hasn't really ever bothered me. It's just a thing in the background, just tune it out. Beyond that, those shows are some light comedy with some story added to it and absolutely still enjoyable. I would not seek most of them out, but also don't usually turn them off.

I used to think the same thing, but it is actually not true at all. A laugh track or live audience impacts a show a great deal. In fact, it has to be written in a totally different way, making room for the laughs, and also simply the need to have a punchline every 2-4 lines. It is a totally unnatural way of talking and interacting.
If you don't notice it very much you are probably just too used to it, which is understandable. But ask a writer, actor, or director about the differences. It is a format that belongs in the past. It does not lend itself to really great comedy. I am so thankful that this format is dying, and that comedy, as silly as it sounds, it at last taken seriously on TV!

3

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

selecta wrote:
some_one wrote:
selecta wrote:

(How are they still doing sitcoms with laugh tracks, for instance?)

I see a lot of people complain about that, but honestly? It hasn't really ever bothered me. It's just a thing in the background, just tune it out. Beyond that, those shows are some light comedy with some story added to it and absolutely still enjoyable. I would not seek most of them out, but also don't usually turn them off.

I used to think the same thing, but it is actually not true at all. A laugh track or live audience impacts a show a great deal. In fact, it has to be written in a totally different way, making room for the laughs, and also simply the need to have a punchline every 2-4 lines. It is a totally unnatural way of talking and interacting.
If you don't notice it very much you are probably just too used to it, which is understandable. But ask a writer, actor, or director about the differences. It is a format that belongs in the past. It does not lend itself to really great comedy. I am so thankful that this format is dying, and that comedy, as silly as it sounds, it at last taken seriously on TV!

I'm not so sure.  I think it works for some and not others, it can completely change it.  Just look at MASH.

2020.  Meh.

4

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

I don't mean to imply that a show with a laugh track can't still be good, great even. And MASH is a good example of that. But that was a long time ago! Which was the last (as in latest) great comedy with a laugh track/live audience? I don't want to hijack the thread, but it would be interesting to hear people's opinions.

5

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

selecta wrote:

A laugh track or live audience impacts a show a great deal. In fact, it has to be written in a totally different way, making room for the laughs, and also simply the need to have a punchline every 2-4 lines. It is a totally unnatural way of talking and interacting.

I've never really thought about laugh tracks (just disliked them most of the time), but this is exactly it! Totally unnatural.

selecta wrote:

I don't want to hijack the thread, but it would be interesting to hear people's opinions.

Hijack risk eliminated, here's a new thread to discuss it. smile

6 (edited by selecta 2020-12-01 14:09:48)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

The need for having of a laugh track is quite interesting. Seems early in TV they tried with just having a live audience, but found out that it doesn't really work. People laugh at the wrong time, have annoying laughs, and maybe most importantly, don't stop laughing soon enough for the actor's next line to be heard clearly, without a significant pause. So even when it is "filmed in front of a live audience", it is NOT their real and spontaneous laughter you hear, but some sort of mix done in audio post. But even then, you need to make space (time) for the laughter. And also, you cannot go more than a certain amount of time without laughter. So, it take on an almost rhythmic quality; line, punchline, laughter, repeat.
I know there is a documentary about the laugh track, and the guy who actually built a machine to handle it, a very complex system in it's day (1950's I think).

7

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

So... a laugh track is like radioactive toothpaste. People thought it was a good idea at some point, but we don't need it anymore today. smile

8 (edited by HomerS 2020-12-01 14:34:46)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

As long as a show ist entertaining, has likeable characters and/or is funny aswell, i don't mind if it has a laugh track or not. Some shows are definitely funnier with a laugh track others dont need one, doesnt mean i can't enjoy both.

https://next-episode.net/sig/sig.php?alias=Watchlist&kk=276008292d78a1f619f8bbc10840767b

9

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

HomerS wrote:

As long as a show ist entertaining, has likeable characters and/or is funny aswell, i don't mind if it has a laugh track or not. Some shows are definitely funnier with a laugh track others dont need one, doesnt mean i can't enjoy both.

Maybe one could argue that when a show needs a laugh track to be funny, it's not a quality show, just a show that needs to hack the human brain to be perceived as more funny than it is? smile

10 (edited by Lollie 2020-12-01 16:48:17)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

I actually hate them, but have learned to ignore them same way as I learned to ignore adverts.

https://i.postimg.cc/FzfWmwnQ/sigTV.png

11

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

Lollie wrote:

I actually hate them, but have learned to ignore them same way as I learned to ignore adverts.

Don't ignore adverts, install Pi-Hole.

DRM "manages access" in the same way that Prison "manages freedom".
http://xkcd.com/488/

12

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

Wizard wrote:
Lollie wrote:

I actually hate them, but have learned to ignore them same way as I learned to ignore adverts.

Don't ignore adverts, install Pi-Hole.

Interesting!

https://i.postimg.cc/FzfWmwnQ/sigTV.png

13

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

lighton wrote:
HomerS wrote:

As long as a show ist entertaining, has likeable characters and/or is funny aswell, i don't mind if it has a laugh track or not. Some shows are definitely funnier with a laugh track others dont need one, doesnt mean i can't enjoy both.

Maybe one could argue that when a show needs a laugh track to be funny, it's not a quality show, just a show that needs to hack the human brain to be perceived as more funny than it is? smile

Yeh maybe but even tho f.i. TBBT uses a laugh track, is very likely not a quality show by any means but is still one of the sitcoms i enjoyed the most, along with HIMYM (laugh track), Friends (laugh track), Married with Children (laugh track) and 2,5 Men (laugh track).

Oh wait maybe it's me, maybe i need laugh tracks wink

https://next-episode.net/sig/sig.php?alias=Watchlist&kk=276008292d78a1f619f8bbc10840767b

14

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

HomerS wrote:

Yeh maybe but even tho f.i. TBBT uses a laugh track, is very likely not a quality show by any means but is still one of the sitcoms i enjoyed the most, along with HIMYM (laugh track), Friends (laugh track), Married with Children (laugh track) and 2,5 Men (laugh track).

Oh wait maybe it's me, maybe i need laugh tracks wink

big_smile Of those shows, I only liked Married with Children (but less and less so because of the laugh track [and jokes becoming repetitive]), didn't even check out 2 1/2 Men and couldn't understand the mass appeal of the remaining shows, which I only sampled a few times each.

So, no laugh track for me please, but I don't mind them still being around (if that's what people want) as long as they don't show up in https://next-episode.net/the-mandalorian cool

15 (edited by inkblot 2020-12-02 01:01:51)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

What about now in sports? You have an empty arena yet they pipe a crowd through the speakers. I know its not the same as filming a show. But it is still weird.

Its even funnier when its supposed to be a cheer and the guy in control hits the boo button.

The last few wrestling ppv's were horrible the arena echoed. And I only watch Soccer. I grab anything else sports related for my father. He thinks its odd as well.

16

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

inkblot wrote:

What about now in sports? You have an empty arena yet they pipe a crowd through the speakers. I know its not the same as filming a show. But it is still weird.

Its even funnier when its supposed to be a cheer and the guy in control hits the boo button.

Haha... big_smile I don't watch sports, but hope to catch a "Best of fake cheer/boo sports fails" on YouTube soon! cool

17

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

It's not strange at all when it comes to comedy, if you really think about it. We laugh more around other people, and there is a reason for it. Humor, and laughter in itself, are social activities. Someone like me, who is a bit anti-social and prefers to watch TV and movies alone, is actually very far from traditional human norms around storytelling, and quite unusual. I take myself as an example, because I don't want anyone to feel hurt. Some of us are just like this, that's ok, but we need to recognize that it is not "normal". But clearly, humor is based around human interactions, whether of people you know, don't know, or someone fictional. But taking part of stories, all by yourself, would not be possible until people in general became literate, which in human history is not long ago at all. So it's no wonder that laugh tracks "work", in the sense that they actually make the viewer think they are taking part in a social activity. Laughing by yourself, of course, would until quite recently been a sign of a mad man! smile

18

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

selecta wrote:

Laughing by yourself, of course, would until quite recently been a sign of a mad man! smile

I wish I could witness the first people who ever discovered smoking weed! big_smile

19

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

lighton wrote:
selecta wrote:

Laughing by yourself, of course, would until quite recently been a sign of a mad man! smile

I wish I could witness the first people who ever discovered smoking weed! big_smile

Or Shrooms.

20

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

Yes smile

21

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

:3

https://i.postimg.cc/FzfWmwnQ/sigTV.png

22 (edited by MeDumbDuck 2020-12-08 17:00:29)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

lighton wrote:

big_smile Of those shows, I only liked Married with Children (but less and less so because of the laugh track [and jokes becoming repetitive]), didn't even check out 2 1/2 Men and couldn't understand the mass appeal of the remaining shows, which I only sampled a few times each.


Married with Children didn't use a laugh track. They used a live audience, which can be heard as single people laughing at the wrong time or the whole audience laughing and cheering too long, so the actors needed to shout their lines.

Personally i don't mind the laugh tracks. I understand their function. In the end it's all how the show is written.

23

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

MeDumbDuck wrote:

Married with Children didn't use a laugh track. They used a live audience, which can be heard as single people laughing at the wrong time or the whole audience laughing and cheering too long, so the actors needed to shout their lines.

Hmm... I only watched a dubbed version and it felt like a cheap laugh track at the time. cool

24 (edited by selecta 2020-12-08 21:29:12)

Re: Laugh tracks - good or bad? (Or REALLY bad?)

Most, if not all, shows with a live audience still edit the audience reaction before broadcast, to better fit the flow of the show. I remember also how MWC was different in the way the audience was allowed to "interfere" big_smile But most would find that too chaotic, and I suspect that nowadays it would not happen. I wonder how SNL manages their audiences? I suspect that the track they are on at least gets mixed in and out a bit to fit with punchlines. But I don't know.
Anyways, it's a fine line between a helpful (for this purpose) audience reaction, and a disruptive one. I have never been to a live taping of a TV show, plus I live in Sweden where people are far too polite (scared) to behave out of line smile So I don't know how it works, but if anyone has any experience of it I would be interested to know!