The Laugh Track

When did they make the last truly funny show? Has there been anything funny created in two decades or are they simply repeating the same thirty minute plotlines with different characters? The real question is, are they still using the same crazy laugh track from I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith show?image

We are living with a baby monitor in the house once more. No baby (Thank God), but our patient is twelve and wants time alone with the ability to call mom with any whim that might cross her mind. Not that she would take advantage of the situation… No.

I digress.

The thing that is annoying about the baby monitor is hearing terrible programming while I’m sitting alone in the den. Worse yet, with the monitor in the kitchen on one side of me and the TV in the bedroom on the other, I get to hear the awfulness in stereo. The quality of TV these days seems to be atrocious. I’m only speaking of children’s shows in this case, but not much has piqued my interest since The Office went off the air. I do like Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, but neither are must-see for me.

imageSo I sit with the baby monitor blaring from the kitchen. It doesn’t pick up everything and the laugh track seems peculiarly loud. It sounds exactly like the ones from every mildly humorous sitcom I recall – Taxi, Fish, Welcome Back Kotter, etc. There were funny moments in those, but maybe six per episode. The laugh button was hit fifty times per show, which magnified the disparity between actual funny and forced funny. It seems they are still using the same track these days, only they hit it more often and forgot to put the six funny moments in the shows.


I was trying to build a list of shows I remember that were clever and funny enough to go without the laugh track. Here is what I came up with:





Everybody Loves Raymond

I Love Lucy

Andy Griffith

The Office

The Dick Van Dyke Show

It isn’t an exhaustive list, but my poor memory tires quickly. What would you add to my list?


8 thoughts on “The Laugh Track

  1. WKRP in Cincinnati. The turkey episode, and how Les Nesman would say Chi Chi Rodriguez, and taped off the area around his desk and made people knock. A pre-view of Sheldon from Big Bang?

  2. You’re right about this. In the last couple of years I’ve been making an effort to watch every episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” on Hulu. He is a true talent. “Frasier” and Raymond were funny, too. I must add George Jefferson.

    1. The Jeffersons! Good call, Mike. I will say that after a couple of years, they seemed to run out of mojo IMO. But there was some funny stuff on there.

  3. i loved frazier too, and currently, modern family and parks and rec. ps – i have wondered in the past how they tape the laugh tracks- what are the logistics, how many people are involved, how do they get them to laugh?

    1. I need to try those two. Frasier is the only sequel that was that good. I remember on scene with no words and Niles ironing something. It was the funniest one man scene I think I’ve ever seen. I really think there is just one laugh track they got way back when.

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