Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Assistant to the Sensai? That's pretty cool."

I have a theory about the state of tv sitcoms. We all know that the two funniest comedies on network tv are The Office and Arrested Development. (This is really just a fact, not an opinion, so there is no need to argue.) Both shows, however, fail to draw big audiences. Anytime I read anything about Arrested Development, it says "the funniest show that no one watches."


Now my theory is that Americans don't "get it" with these shows because neither show has a laugh track. The most popular comedies are all filmed in front of a studio audience. Two and Half Men is the most popular sitcom on tv. The #1 sitcom, and yet I know no one who watches it. But with the live audience laughing, the television audience gets a clue about when to laugh. They are being told what is funny.

With The Office and Arrested Development (and even with Scrubs), however, the audience has to think. We have to decide for ourselves what is funny. And we aren't ready to do that much work for a half-hour comedy.

Americans are too stupid to know when to laugh, and the good shows are suffering.



Several years back, before he created West Wing, Aaron Sorkin had an excellent show called Sports Night. In the first season, the show had no laugh track, though it was incredibly funny. But it also had serious moments, so people couldn't figure out if it was a drama or a comedy. So in the second season, the network made Sorkin add a laugh track. Here's how Sorkin described it: "It feels like I've put on an Armani tuxedo, tied my tie, snapped on my cuff links, and the last thing I do before I leave the house is spray Cheez Whiz all over myself."

Exactly.

12 Comments:

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Tom posited...

man that's sad.

 
At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Kmags posited...

hey wang dude theres a lot of ppl that watch two and a half men, mohs and i for sizzle.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger markymark posited...

I still can't believe they made dwight assistant regional manager. that's the shocker of the season for all of tv, in my opinion

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

It's probationary.

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

I hate laugh tracks. They just piss me off. Half the time, they laugh at really unfunny things too.

 
At 8:35 PM, Blogger chris posited...

Questions....

A. who the heck is "Kmags"?
B. Why is he talking like paul?
C. where is paul? has he found a lady friend to make up for his Harmer deficit? And
D. what the Hell is wrong with ER?

 
At 12:32 AM, Blogger Jake posited...

When "Sports Night" got a laugh track, I cut myself.

Plus, it had Peter Krause, who is, like, super-dreamy.

 
At 12:56 AM, Blogger pkizzle posited...

While I agree that Arrested Development is a very funny show, I'm not as quick to denounce more popular sitcoms. Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, Two and a Half Men: all funny shows, and I don't feel i've been brainwashed in thinking that.

Don't get me started on Sports Night.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger pkizzle posited...

And Derby, I'm still around, just in South Dakota. To answer your question, there is no way to get over a Nikki Harmer crush. She is just too damn fine.

 
At 2:01 AM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

I guess I have to clarify. I don't dislike other sitcoms. I like a lot of sitcoms. I will freely admit that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Friends. I LOVE it. If I could watch it more than 4 times a night, I would. It is one of my all time favorite shows. I LOVE Friends. I have a knack for relating any real life incident to an episode of Friends. I love Friends.

My point was not that other sitcoms are bad. My point was that Americans can't handle "atypical" shows. The laugh track/audience helps these people.

 
At 11:24 PM, Blogger LogGamer posited...

OK, yeah, first, Kmags is Karl Magneson, and I just have to clarify my point on his post too. I LOVE Arrested Development, Scrubs, and The Office. I unfortunatly am not home enough to see them quite often. I do like Two and a Half Men though, but I would agree that the laugh track stinks. The show would still be great without it, probably better, and thanks for your update on your views Wanninger.

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger Kid C posited...

Dude, I watched this video in TV Productions and there was a guy who is a professional laugher. His job is to sit down in studio audiences, laugh ridiculously loud and weird, and hope its contagious. I was so jealous. Where was that job at career day?

 

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