Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Filmed before a live studio audience

Some people dislike TV comedies that are filmed before a live studio audience, because they find the sound of audience laughter disruptive.

It surprises me that people who are my age and older can find this disruptive, because for the longest time it was baseline for comedies. Cosby Show, Cheers, MASH, Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, Friends, Seinfeld, All In The Family, The Brady Bunch, Full House, Fresh Prince, even Monty Python - all kinds of major comedies over all eras of 20th century television had a live studio audience or a laugh track.

As moved from childhood to adulthood, I moved from children's television to sitcoms.  I suspect many people made the same transition, since adult (in the sense of "not specifically intended for children") comedy is generally more comprehensible and entertaining to a young person than adult drama. And all the sitcoms were filmed before a live studio audience.

So basically everything that formed my whole concept of what television actually is was filmed before a live studio audience.  And it seems like the same situation would stand for a lot of people.

This is why it surprises me that people whose formative television viewing was on similar shows would find it disruptive or distracting.  It seems like it should be no more disruptive distracting than watching TV in black and white if your first television set was black and white.  It might not be your very favourite format choice, but your brain should pretty much be immune to it.


laura k said...

I grew up with the laugh track, and now find laugh tracks absolutely ridiculous. It's like the big honking sign that says, "This show is (probably) crap".

And when I occasionally see a clip from an old show, one of the ones you've named there, the laugh track seems intrusive and ridiculous.

Filmed in front of a live audience would not bother me, but a laugh track doesn't sound live. (It used to be called "canned laughter". Maybe still is?)

I don't know this is - why a baseline, as you say, from my TV youth is now beyond the pale. I'm going to think on it.

laura k said...

Possibly interesting tangent: Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld wanted to do Seinfeld without a laugh track, but at the time that was considered too experimental, too "out there," beyond the realm of network TV.

They settled on live audience with "sweetened" laughter. In "Jerry," the sitcom within the show, they used typical sitcom canned laughter, and you can really hear the difference.

impudent strumpet said...

That's interesting, because I hardly notice it. I had to google those shows before I could be certain they had laughter. And I can't even tell the difference between a laugh track and a studio audience, at least not when watching casually. (I've never watched while deliberately attempting to tell the difference.)

CQ said...

For my preference:
Live audience filming - ok.
Laugh Track - too often too loudly applied.

laura k said...

When I purposely listen to the laugh track, it doesn't sound anything like laughter, to my ears. It just sounds like noise.

And as CQ says, it is usually applied too often and way too loudly. For an example of what I mean, you would have to listen to a show you don't find funny. Any little half-joke or quip - WHAAA!!!! - several times a minute.

A live studio audience sounds like what it is.