Can you watch shows with laugh tracks? Because I can't.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but for me, a laugh track on a comedy show is an instant dealbreaker 100% of the time and automatically makes me not able to watch the show. I just can’t stand the utter predictability of it; I don’t need to be told when to laugh and I don’t need to have the comic timing spelled out for me with all the subtlety of a mule kick to the balls. The only comedy shows I can watch are those without laugh tracks: Arrested Development, The Office, and…well, that’s about all that I can think of at the moment.

Does anyone else feel this way? Or am I just being too much of a snob or something?

I can endure it, because it’s become such a staple of the genre.

Fawlty Towers has it and I feel it’s one of the best comedy shows ever.
But yes, I do prefer to be without. The Office was a huge relief when I saw it in 2001, as was Arrested Development or the current Community.

If the show is performed for a live audience I don’t usually have a problem with it. You get kind of a stage-play feel and I can watch with that mindset.

It’s when you have a single-camera comedy where there’s clearly no audience present and they insert obviously phony canned laughter that it becomes really incongruous and off-putting. But this practice seems to be dying out if not already extinct.

Mainly though, for me, if a show is funny, it’s funny. If it’s not it’s not. I’m not going to impose a single “deal-breaker” to decide for me what to watch.

I don’t watch any anymore.

Scrubs really was the first show I watched that had no laugh track, followed by Arrested Development and The Office(UK and US) and 30 Rock. Extras also is a regular watch for me.

I do love MASH and have been hugely relieved the DVD’s allow you to turn off the laugh track, which was always out of place on that show.

I love Fawlty Towers as well, but the audience sounds more live than a normal laugh track. I know they “sweetened” some laughs, but most are genuine so I don’t mind it as much.

On funny shows I don’t notice the laugh track so it doesn’t bother me. It’s only when the laugh track is amused when I’m not remotely amused that it is a problem, but then I’ve already obviously got problems with what I’m watching.

So I’d rather there not be one but it isn’t a dealbreaker. Except for when the audience reacts simply to the appearance of a regular character. Never acceptable.

I think nowadays more than before, laugh tracks are strictly connected to the “classic” kind of sit-com. You know, centered around the apartment of a certain family or friends, with most of the action of the series happening inside the home.

The shows mentioned in this thread that are more current and don’t use laugh tracks break that formula, their series take places in offices, movie sets, hospitals and so on. It is much less based on punch line jokes delivered on some kind of stage.

I’m with you. Whether it’s a canned track or a studio audience, I really can’t stand it. People have been telling me how hilarious *Big Bang Theory *is but I can’t get through 5 minutes of it due to the laughter. It’s sort of like Jules’ line in Pulp Fiction: “Sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie, but I’ll never know because I won’t eat the motherfucker.”

I’m totally with you - I can’t do it either. SpouseO and I have tried giving that show The Big Bang Theory (I think) a shot a couple of times, but we never last more than a couple of minutes because of the damn laugh track. I’ve heard it’s good, and funny, but the parts I’ve seen are ruined by the stupid laughing. If something’s funny, I’ll get it, promise.

Ha, corkboard! Jinx!

No, I’m with you - they’re a tool of the Devil.

Well, since you asked, yeah, I’d say you’re being a little on the snobby side;)

I can agree to a point that they can be annoying but if the show is good enough to engross me I won’t notice it and if all I can focus on is the laugh track then the show probably sucks anyway. Shoot, I never even noticed the laugh track on “The Big Bang Theory”.

Now that’s funny, even without a laugh track.

I guess I’ve watched so many with a laugh track I just kind of mentally turn it off and pay no attention to them.

I can endure laugh tracks, but I definitely prefer shows without them. However, is there any truth to that old canard that most laugh tracks were recorded 50 years ago, and that thus, you’re listening mostly to dead people’s laughs? If so, I think that’s kinda neat – I could imagine worse things of you to survive your physical death than your laugh.

It’s difficult. There have been several shows that I’ve initially disliked and passed on, simply because they have a laugh track. The way I look at it, if you have to tell the audience when to laugh, ur doin’ it wrong. There have been a few exceptions- How I Met Your Mother, for example, I almost turned off and erased from my DVR because it had a laugh track. Strangely, the show turned out to be one of my favorites. I guess I just mentally block the laugh track.

I thought The Big Bang Theory might get a few mentions here. I used to catch the odd episode and couldn’t get past the phony, LOUD, non-stop laugh track. I don’t think I watched long enough for them to get to a real joke. Then I lasted long enough to see the “DNA of Leonard Nimoy” incident and got hooked. The laugh track is still a distraction but the show makes me actually laugh often enough that I’ll suffer through the rest.

Lots of UK shows have laughing from an actual audience (The IT Crowd comes to mind) which I don’t find obtrusive at all. Recorded laugh tracks are usually a complete no-no.

I agree, I won’t tolerate a show with a laugh track. It doesn’t matter how good a show is supposed to be, a laugh track guarantees I will not watch it. I was browsing Netflix and happened upon Red Dwarf. I know a lot of people that like it so I thought I’d give it a try. I got as far as the first laugh before I turned it off. I envy the people that can tune out laugh tracks but I can’t and they drive me nuts.

Then you’re missing out, IMO, and not even for a good reason 'cause unless you happened upon Series VII, you were hearing a studio audience, not a laugh track.

Or are people complaining about studio audiences too? I can’t tell if the general thrust here is that you don’t want to hear any laughter, whether it’s from a laugh track or live audience.

Me, if the laughter is well done, I can stomach it. I grew up with shows like MAS*H, the Brady Bunch and Bewitched (laugh tracks) and All in the Family, I Love Lucy, Cheers, Monty Python, and Cosby Show (studio audiences with some ‘sweetening’) and I sure wouldn’t wanna miss out on any of these shows just because I hear laughter that isn’t mine.

While I dig the new single camera comedies, I also enjoy if a show is funny I’ll watch either way. Sometimes the laugh track or sweetened audience laughter is distracting. I found the laughter in That '70s Show incredibly distracting, but I suspect that was intentionally cheesey.

They just turn me off. Especially if they’re over britcoms. Or especially Monty Python. Drives me mad.

Monty Python wasn’t a laugh track. They had a live audience in the studio. The film bits were played for the audience to get real laughter.

Isn’t Big Bang Theory filmed in front of a live audience, though?