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Gerbil First Class
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Thu Feb 14, 2002 2:07 pm

Maybe one of you closer to Hollywood than I am can help me out here.

Yesterday I was watching some random sitcom and it hit me that it's been years since I've seen a show that didn't use canned laughter.

You know what I mean... when you hear the same laugh track on every new episode of a show from a certain production company... when the laughing sounds as bland as the humor of the show... when even the sound crew can express their boredom through bad canned laughter...

And yet when I was growing up I remember all the shows having that little "Filmed before a Live Studio Audience" note at the beginning of the shows. The Cosby Show, Cheers, even Home Improvement at first.

Why did they move away from this? Is it purely money? Did they get tired of people laughing at the wrong times, or not laughing at a particularly unfunny joke? Anyone know?

Minister of Gerbil Affairs
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Thu Feb 14, 2002 3:37 pm

I know some shows do. I think most of the NBC shows use live audiences (Seinfeld comes to mind) but I noticed that some other sitcoms don't.
Gerbil First Class
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Thu Feb 14, 2002 8:47 pm

I bet cause a lot more shows are just getting more pathetic!
Gerbil First Class
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Fri Feb 15, 2002 11:58 am

Canned laughter seems to have disappeared from TV. Offhand, I can't think of anything that I watch that even pretends that there's an audience. Of course, most of what I watch is nonfiction or animation, so...
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Mon Feb 18, 2002 1:15 am

As a fellow aficionado of the Tube, I want to comment. A century ago or so in America (and as far back to the Ancient Greeks), people would go to the theater for entertainment. They would watch live performers in front of them, singing, dancing, acting. That's what they would do on, say, a Friday night (of course, not until the weekends were invented as a result of labor laws).
What did TV bring? It brought shows into our homes, in our own privacy, we could watch. TV sets became more and more available and we got used to it as entertainment within the home.
Anyway to get back to your question, I think that the studios used to take more pride in showing entertainment close to what you would see in a playhouse. The actors memorized all their lines for the show and rehearsed and rehearsed because they knew they would be performing live, in front of people. Nowadays however, the TV producers have caught on to what the filmmakers were doing to be successful. They were editing seperately filmed clips together for form an entire, coherent movie. TV shows, with the exception of, say, Seinfeld, seem to be much more interested in making serial mini-movies for the TV, e.g., West Wing, ER. Despite this, maybe the marketing people at the networks have realized that there needs to still be some sort of entertainment that provides a sense of real-time theater. A good example of this is Saturday Night Live, and may be a good reason why the show has been so successful. That's my guess.

Did you know that the TV was invented by a person who thought that his invention might be useful by displaying cycled photographic images of wanted criminals, to facilitate their capture? In actuality, we all know that enterprising American companies gave the TV it's real original purpose: to display cycled images of their products to boost sales (advertising). How could they manage to get people to keep staring at these advertising boxes? By cleverly placing entertaining programs in between the commercials. Clever, huh?
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Sun Feb 24, 2002 7:35 pm

Okay, erm, I'm not sure why it would save people money if a show used canned laughter, surely it would make more sense to charge people to watch the show...

I think comedy these days is a bit more surreal... We've gone from the Cosby's to stuff like Big Train (REEAAAALLLYYYY surreal :smile:)

Other than that, dunno,

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