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29 January 2010

Which is creepier? Dramas with a laugh track (The Wire, Taxi Driver, The Shining) or comedies without one (Friends, Full House, Big Bang Theory)?
whoa... freaky!
posted by jonathanstrange 29 January | 06:18
See also: David Lynch's Rabbits.
posted by Eideteker 29 January | 06:30
Whoa. I'd say Friends is creepier, for the way every time Chandler speaks Monica just smiles vacantly staring straight ahead in silence for a couple of seconds.

I read a book by playwright Alan Ayckbourn recently, and he mentioned that he sometimes adds a few unimportant words just after a witty line. That way if the audience laughs, they don't miss any dialogue; but if they don't laugh, the actor isn't left with an embarrassing gap. Not necessary for TV writing I suppose.
posted by TheophileEscargot 29 January | 07:25
I always thought those episodes of Sports Nigtht that had laugh tracks added in post-production were really really creepy.
posted by muddgirl 29 January | 10:16
I've heard in Europe MASH was presented without a laugh track, and that it was very much a different, much more disturbing show.
posted by gc 29 January | 10:16
The laugh track-less sitcoms definitely seem darker without the laugh track. It's like those Garfield comics with Garfield's thought bubbles removed- it's more deadpan and (IMO) better, somehow.
posted by BoringPostcards 29 January | 10:24
I've heard in Europe MASH was presented without a laugh track, and that it was very much a different, much more disturbing show.

Larry Gelbart (the show's creator) never wanted a laugh track on the US version, either, but the network forced it on him. They did make one concession, however, which was not to add the laugh track during the operating room scenes. Which makes it even more awkward when the scene immediately following a harrowing, blood-filled OR scene is a laff track chuckle-fest featuring Klinger in a taffeta dress.
posted by Atom Eyes 29 January | 11:11
Laugh-track-less comedies are only creepy when they aren't actually funny (like Friends.) Without a laugh-track, it's more like watching a very bad comedian in front of an unresponsive audience, and bombing painfully. It's very very uncomfortable. Laugh tracks are crutches for weak writing.

Now, comedies that are written to be laugh-track-free are something else entirely. Personally, I find these to some of the best-written shows on TV, period.
posted by Thorzdad 29 January | 11:32
Laugh tracks bug me. I like comedies without. Dramas with are definitely creepier.
posted by flex 29 January | 11:39
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