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:

M*A*S*H

Cheers

Frasier

Friends

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?

 

Church For Rent

I saw an odd sign today and had to investigate. It simply said:

Church for Rent

Because I have been told all my life that The Church isn’t a building, it is the body of believers, I found the rental concept intriguing. Remember the little folded hand thing little old ladies taught you in Vacation Bible School when you were six?

Here is the church

Here is the steeple

Open it up

And see all the people

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How do you rent that? Are you renting people? Because that is clearly illegal and otherwise immoral. Hopefully, no kind of church (collection of believers) would do that.

Are you renting beliefs? Seems plausible, but slightly ridiculous since one church down the road is giving them away and on the other side on town there is one forcing them on any poor soul wandering past.

Maybe you are renting the building. Interesting…what do you do with a church building? This led to a whole other set of questions that forced me to survey the property. My initial investigation told me that this had been a Pentecostal church, most likely a Primitive Baptist church. I narrowed it down because of the booths that I found on the side, I think they are for potluck dinners and that is certainly a Baptist thing. I wiped a window and peeked inside to find a strange box next to the pulpit that I can only believe housed snakes in its day – thus the primitive. One other note, I live in the Deep South where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a Baptist church, so that is always the go-to denomination. (Yes, in this day and age, cat-swinging is discouraged, but only on Sundays with the blue laws and all.)

So if you are a Primitive Baptist Church and someone comes to rent your building (We will take the rental of members off the table because no one is going to pay for a bunch of staunchy guys yelling hellfire & brimstone at you, anyway), do you have a list of belief clauses the perspective renter has to adhere to before they can take over? I mean, you can’t let the building become a pool hall, bingo parlor, or a YMCA – which is just two towels short of a brothel. And what if a gaggle of Presbyterians comes along with their slick predestination/sovereignty of God talk and fermented drink? Do you even let them into the building? How about a flock of Methodists who debate the stickiness of salvation? Or God forbid, a cloister of Catholics? They would be crossing themselves, kneeling, and serving real wine in the very aisles that you used to charge up and down under the influence of the Spirit (not the alcoholic kind, the Holy kind). It flutters the mind to think of the radical change these denominations could bring to this sacred place.

The real question is, why does the church need to rent the space anyway? Tough times, I assume. But who holds the deed? The preacher, chairman of the deacons, or the head of the finance committee? If the church is caput, where does the rent money go? To the three guys probably responsible for its caputness?

You see the dilemma I’d fallen upon. You also know what all of these questions meant!  I simply had to call the number. It rang four times and then to my disappointment, a nasally clerk named Eunice answered the phone with a boring explanation. It seems the church has been vacant for years and the city owns the property.

What seemed like a huge let-down led to one more question – where do they keep the charred remains of the poor slob who foreclosed on God?