10 Misuses of the Laugh Track


It’s kind of a sign that your show sucks these days if your show has a laugh track, even if it once was a staple of everything from Happy Days to Seinfeld. Before I get a bunch of Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother defenders in here, I’m not here to debate the new crop of shows, I’m just here to show you what it’s like when you cram laugh tracks in to shows (and movies) that shouldn’t have it, and take it away from shows that need it. Observe:

The Wire


To Catch a Predator

The Shining

Silence of the Lambs

Taxi Driver

Pulp Fiction

The Empire Strikes Back


Dark Knight

Alright, I got tired of doing shows ADDING laugh tracks, so now here a few examples of shows with the laugh tracks cut OUT.

Full House


The Big Bang Theory


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  1. Nice addition of the Big Bang Theory without laugh track. I find that it overuses it way too much and I don’t really see whats the big deal with the show, but the one thing that does bother me is that laugh track every minute.

  2. Not trying to defend HIMYM but I rarely notice the laugh track on that show. I just genuinely find it funny; although Alyson Hannigan (Lily) seems, to me , be the weakest part of the show and thats usually when i notice the laugh track.

  3. Its like we’re all part of a fringe group in some conspiracy coz everyone seems to love 2&HM, BBT and the most paralyzing abortion of them all; Tyler Perry’s House of Pain.

  4. Regarding the opening paragraph, I’m quite certain that “HAPPY DAYS” was, in fact, filmed before a live audience.
    In fact, they said as much at the beginning of every show (as many sitcoms of the 70’s did).

  5. How I Met Your Mother actually DOESN’T use a laugh track. The show uses alot of cuts between scenes (episodes are often told in the form of flashbacks as 1 member of the group tells a story at the bar). They finished episode is then shown to an audience, whose reaction is recorded.

  6. Are you sure Friends used a laugh track? I know on the final show of the series, in the behind the scenes video I think, you saw the actors take a bow in front of the studio audience. I just assumed they had an audience every time.

    You want to hear a stupid audience track, try watching the old I Love Lucy shows (hey, late at night, nothing to watch, I hate silence! Gotta turn on the tv or winamp). You’ll always hear the exact same “Uh oh” when Lucy starts doing something stupid.

  7. What’s worse is using a “fake” laugh track, when they only play about 6 laughs. (Refer to Hanna-Barbera’s 70s shows of the day). It is like pointing a gun at someone if they don’t laugh.

  8. You’re defining laugh track incorrectly.
    It only applies when the laughter is prerecorded. Both BBT and Friends are actually filmed before live studio audiences.

  9. I agree that laugh tracks are generally a poor idea, so too is filming in front of a live audience. While it has worked well in the past, it usually only works when the show has an abundance of physical comedy. Just an opinion, of course. I just remember a professor once showed my class a reel of great comedies without the laugh track, and I found it much more enjoyable.

    That said, you’re examples of adding laugh tracks doesn’t make any sense. Shouldn’t the examples have something to do with comedy? Of course The Shining, and The Wire wouldn’t work with an ‘audience’. Maybe showing examples of Arrested Development, or Scrubs, or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with a laugh track would better demonstrate how they detract from the actual jokes. And of course, MASH is a great example of how a laugh track can change a show.

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