I think my most hated thing on television is the laugh track.
There are shows that I used to find absolutely hilarious. “Two & A Half Men” and “Big Bang Theory” are two good examples. Then I realized that: a) the characters are real assholes, and b) there’s an omnipresent, relentless laugh track. It’s not a spritz of a couple chuckles here and a hint of a few guffaws there. Nope, it’s like being rolled over by a 250 ton Laughter Express bus and squished flat like a bug.
Once you have that switch flipped in your brain, once your perception has been re-tuned… Well, you’ll never watch it again.
Some favorite shows still have laugh tracks, but they handle it differently. “M*A*S*H” for example never ever has a laugh track during the scenes in surgery or with incoming patients. It really makes a difference.
On the other hand, while an episode of “Friends” was on last night and I walked into the room, the laugh track mugged me, stole my wallet and watch, and left me bleeding in the gutter. It was like swimming with piranhas. The worst part once I was being inundated was again realizing that: a) the characters are ALL real assholes, and b) they weren’t saying ANYTHING funny. There wasn’t even the slightest one-liner even approaching “borderline humorous,” but the laugh track would have us thinking that the funniest joke in the history of mankind had just been uttered. But if your brain can filter out the laugh track but still listen to the dialogue you can hear the “posturing one liner,” brief pause with medium laughter, response to set up the “joke,” brief pause with light laughter, punchline delivered in character from a self-centered, annoying jerk, longer pause with 100% over the top levels of laughter, rinse and repeat ad nauseum. But, again, if you could cut out the rest and just listen to the dialogue, it’s moronic and annoying.
That might be my standard moving forward. A laugh track might be an instant deal killer for any new show.
You know what show never had a laugh track but still had me laughing every show? And crying? And singing along? “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” that’s which show. It’s a freaking CRIME that it was cancelled!
[Insert laugh track here!]