Laugh Track Humor

24 Feb

funny“Why do they keep laughing at everything she says?”

It’s a valid question, Nate. Especially since 75% of what comes out of her scripted sitcom mouth is not funny. (Or is it?)

“It’s called a laugh track, buddy. Basically, the people who make the tv show have a sound that makes it seem like an audience is laughing. They use it so we know something was meant to be funny.” Even when it’s not.

That got me thinking about the whole chicken versus egg thing and questions started ping-ponging around in my brain.

How much do we learn about humor from the laugh track cues on sitcoms? (Are many of us are trained to laugh at things because of what we absorbed watching tv punchlines that producers led us to believe are hysterical because of an audience reaction?)

Why do you want to teach my children to laugh at the sassy little girl on your program? Do you know how hard I’m working to teach them not to sass? Sure, I know we don’t have to watch your show but I actually do find that sassy little girl comical – probably because of the early laugh track humor invasion established in my brain at an early age. Instead, I’ll just watch the show with them and when her line hits I’ll smirk in my head and then reinforce to the kids, “We shouldn’t talk to people that way.” I’m so conflicted and hypocritical over here.

How much of our humor comes naturally? Some are just born with a fabulous sense of humor? Maybe we learn it from the adults we had around us as we grew up? Funny friends? But where did they learn that someone tripping over a chair and into a pile of garbage is funny? Banana peel on a head and then a quirky line to cut to commercial? Bwa-ha-ha! (I only laugh at these scenes on special days.) What makes me laugh so hard at the zany things Amy Duncan does on Good Luck Charlie? I laugh at her daily and only feel a little ashamed about it. And why the heck do I think the drunk driving scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin is funny? It’s so wrong. So wrong. But it makes my laugh go silent and tears fill in my eyes because it strikes me as hilarious. Surely I can’t connect that demented sense of humor to laugh tracks?

Are emoticons the electronic equivalent to a televised laugh track, helping readers know when they are supposed to smile? How will we know when to chuckle or that someone is just kidding unless they give us a 🙂 or a ;)?

Of course, I am ridiculous and these are all just the inner-workings of my mind as I was doing the dishes one night. It does make me laugh when I think about it all though. Which makes me wonder …

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4 Responses to “Laugh Track Humor”

  1. 1tric February 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I hate this canned laughter on shows. I drive my kids wild by joining in the laughter. it makes the point,,,,, this is not funny.

    • areyouzhazha February 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      It is painful. I also often feel like my kids are now so programmed to it that they’re waiting for their own laugh track to play after their jokes.

  2. Ginger February 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I had some similar wonderings a couple of days ago – I was telling Erin something rather serious and sad, and just as I finished saying it, her 20-month-old started laughing. He timed it as though I’d just said something incredibly funny. I’d love to know what it was that he read in our behavior that he thought was funny. Or maybe he saw a funny bird out the window and just had great timing? And I remember when Camille was a baby she used to laugh when I coughed. What was that about???

    • areyouzhazha March 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      Maybe he thought you could use a smile? It was getting heavy in there and he felt the need to lighten the mood? Kids are awesome. And hilarious.

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