Let's Just Say It: Laugh Tracks On Sitcoms Are Super Cringy

I love a good sitcom. As a matter of fact, I'm a pretty big fan of bad sitcoms as well. There's just something about the comedic approach to storytelling that I find both endearing and fascinating.

But if I'm being honest, there's always been something that's stuck out and bothered me over the years — laugh tracks. Let's just say it: laugh tracks on sitcoms are super cringy. They're awkward and unnecessary and it's high time that we do away with them entirely!

To begin with, laugh tracks are a product of a bygone era.

Have you ever wondered where the laugh track came from? It all began long before television was even invented.

Radio engineers had been utilizing 'canned laughter' for decades. Most notably in the case of Bing Crosby, who was one of the first stars to pre-record his shows.

Sounds of laughter were implemented to help add an element of realness to the radio programs since they could only be heard and not seen.

It breaks the 4th wall and shatters the viewing experience.


The best way to watch a show is to immerse yourself in the characters and story as much as possible. This can prove to be an especially difficult task when you're constantly being jolted back to reality by the high-pitched-hyena-howls of pre-recorded laughter.

Just because it's a sitcom doesn't mean it can't have substance. But in order for an audience to truly see it, you have to give them the opportunity to discover it on their own. Stop bombarding us!

Laugh tracks don't heighten the humor in the slightest.


A lot of people will try and make the argument that laugh tracks encourage group laughter; that they somehow make an audience feel safer or more comfortable letting their guard down. To that point, I say "phooey."

True laughter is as much of an involuntary reaction as blinking or breathing, feeling 'safe' has nothing to do with it. When it hits, it hits hard and can't be contained. Case in point: have you ever laughed at a completely inappropriate moment, like a wedding or a funeral?

If you take the laugh track away, the show would be just as funny.


Let's take a look at some of the greatest sitcoms in the past 30 years that have utilized laugh tracks. The ones that immediately come to mind are Friends, Seinfeld, and The Big Bang Theory.

If there all of a sudden wasn't a laugh track there the next time you went to watch, would the show be any less funny? Of course, it wouldn't!

These shows became classics because of the quality of the writing and acting. Without the laughs, they'd be just as great.

Laugh tracks are also incredibly creepy when you stop to think about it.

Nowadays, I'll admit that this factoid is more of a suburban myth than anything else, but it should still give you pause.

Much of the 'canned laughter' or laugh tracks that you hear on television were recorded decades ago, especially for classic TV sitcoms like Taxi and All in the Family.

That means that when you hear that cheap, fake, 'canned laughter', more often than not what you're hearing are the voices of dead people. That's right — it's ghost laughter.

They're also insulting to the audience.


Do you enjoy being bossed around? Are you someone who thrives on being told what to do, how to act, where to be, and when to laugh? I didn't think so. But that's precisely what laugh tracks do!

They take away our personal autonomy and treat us like morons. It's almost as if the writers and producers are saying "our audience is too dumb to understand the humor." In my book, that's nothing more than a cheap masquerade to hide poor jokes.

Finally, laugh tracks were invented to make producer's lives easier — not to make shows better.


In the early days of TV, producers and writers used to get furious at live-audiences. They'd miss punchlines, laugh in the wrong moments, laugh too loudly or for too long. Something had to be done, and the solution was the laugh track.

It was meant to keep the show on track, a clever ploy to remove an unknown variable from the equation. But just because it worked in the 1950s, doesn't mean it's going to work today.

The bottom line is laugh tracks just aren't funny anymore, not at all.