Give the laugh track more credit

By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer

Some of the most iconic — if not the most iconic — TV shows in history contain what is called the “laugh track,” used after most of the jokes scripted for the episodes. The laugh track has played an important role in the comedic aspect of sitcoms, and it should be given more credit.

Back in the 1950s, Charley Douglass, a sound engineer for CBS, created the laugh track after multiple attempts to include the live audience’s reaction to the jokes. After not being satisfied with the reactions, he decided to create the Laff Box.

Now, I am no expert in this department, but as a member of the audience, sometimes the laugh track helps to understand what’s meant to be taken as a joke.

I do acknowledge that at times, it may be overused and/or used at the wrong time. But at the end of the day, the shows that utilize this tool are meant to be taken lightheartedly, with little to no seriousness; these are the types of shows that may be used mostly for comfort and to fill time during the day.

However, the use of the laugh track doesn’t really influence the success of a show. Some of the most successful sitcoms use the laugh track, while others simply don’t. Take, for example, “Friends.” If the laugh track were taken away, many of the lines would most likely not sound as funny or may even make people feel awkward.

In addition to being a noise filler, the laugh track can be a companion. Imagine watching a show with others and being the only person laughing at a punchline. Doesn’t it feel better to know it was meant to be funny? Or imagine watching the show by yourself. Doesn’t it feel better to feel as though you aren’t alone?

Overall, the laugh track may be viewed as overrated and overused, but it doesn’t really matter. Yes, sometimes it can be cringe and uncalled for, but it’s a genuine tool used to enhance a show’s sitcom potential. It would be more strange to have it played in a 40-minute drama episode rather than a 20-minute comedy show.

Give the laugh track more credit, for it has shown more positive outcomes than negative impacts on viewers.