Laugh Tracks in Today’s Comedies

Many people are fans of shows that have laugh tracks. One of the most popular shows today that features one is The Big Bang Theory. What happens when you take away the laugh track? That’s the question that this video tries to answer.

The main reason I don’t like laugh tracks is that they practically spell out “laugh at this joke” in the show. Considering the amount that laughs are utilized in a given episode, one would think they’ve found the jackpot of comedy. In my opinion, the majority of the punchlines fall flat if I’m aware of the laugh track.  

In the reading “Contagious Laughter and the Brain,” Provine makes a good point about how laughter (nearly every form of it) causes laughter itself. When talking about laugh boxes, he says “These inexpensive gizmos from novelty and magic shops provide a critical demonstration that in the absence of a joke or humorous remark, laughter, by itself, can evoke laughter.” This shows that laugh tracks can be used as a way to get laughs without funny jokes.

So, are laugh tracks today substitutes for good writing? Or is it that shows depend on the laugh track for the jokes to work?

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