Laugh track is a thing of the past. Really. The first TV show with a laugh track dates way back to 1950 and the said show did so poorly that it had to be cancelled not long after. Let’s face it; no matter how successful a sitcom is, it doesn’t nullify the fact that laugh tracks in the background are extremely annoying.
Featuring a laugh track in a TV show doesn’t automatically make it funny. It’s no rocket science. Why would the audience need cues to laugh? If the jokes are so obscure or require so many references to understand, they aren’t really good jokes anyway. In what way is it helpful that the laugh track reminds the audience to laugh because they cannot understand the joke or worse they don’t find it funny? Humor is highly subjective by the way. It makes no sense to me that the viewers would laugh at a plot because the producers think it is supposed to be funny when it’s really not. Lame!
I don’t have any working knowledge about TV production nor do I personally know someone who does, so my point here would strictly be from a viewer’s perspective. I doubt anyone would like to go strongly against my opinion here. Of course, I am aware of the numerous studies stating that laugh tracks do work (that explains why they’re still here today). The underlying point of these studies is that laugh tracks make people feel as though they were watching a show with a bunch of other people in a studio or a comedy club and that in a psychological standpoint, such an (fake) “environment” would encourage people to laugh more freely. *rolls eyes*
That said, it’s not likely that laugh tracks would be totally gone in the near future, with highly successful shows such as The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother still featuring them. Even older cult favorites such as Seinfeld and Friends had gained monumental successes with laugh tracks on, so I don’t really have a solid case against laugh tracks here. But it doesn’t mean that laugh tracks are great or even remotely useful; maybe people just choose to ignore them because the shows are truly great, which is what really matters anyway.
I am not really a sitcom nut. The only sitcoms I’ve watched so far are The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Modern Family and Arrested Development. Each of them offers a unique sense of humor that appeals to me greatly but the first two sitcoms feature laugh tracks while the rest don’t. When things are put into perspective like that, it makes watching sitcoms with laugh tracks more unbearable now because I’ve subconsciously developed a slight contempt for TBBT and HIMYM, although I still love them. My point is – if Modern Family and Arrested Development (and many others) could make it work so successfully without using laugh tracks, surely laugh tracks aren’t an integral part to make a show work (funny, for that matter).
Laugh tracks should go, definitely; it’s only a matter of time. Over 60 years since the conception of laugh tracks, I believe it’s about time TV producers move on without these pre-recorded, lame laughing sounds. Hearing laugh tracks constantly throughout a show is like having someone to sit beside and nag you every few seconds to laugh. Who would love that?