Closed-captioning for the humor-impaired.
In the early days of television, comedies were "traditionally" performed essentially as short plays in front of a live Studio Audience, broadcast live or with minimal editing (see Three Cameras). However, as television production grew more sophisticated in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was at least a partial shift away from live performances to productions that were filmed movie-style, with a single camera and on a closed sound stage or on location. The latter gave the director more freedom in selecting shots and angles, as well as the luxury of multiple takes. However, there was no longer an audience to provide instant feedback on the humor.
The general opinion of the audience held by television executives then (and some would argue now) was very low. There was serious concern that without an audience to "prompt" the home viewer's responses, a comedy would fall flat. The solution was the creation of the Laugh Track (also known as "canned laughter") — an artificial audience that did nothing but react uproariously to anything and everything.
Naturally, within a few years of its introduction, it was abused and overused. Every punchline, no matter how lame or subtle, would receive the same tsunami of belly laughs from the virtual audience. It became epidemic, even intruding bizarrely into cartoons (The Flintstones and The Jetsons, anyone?). By the 1960s, it had become an annoying intrusion, hated but (in the minds of most producers) mandatory. In the 1970s, however, most sitcoms began to switch away from the single-camera, movie-style format and back to the multi-camera format with a studio audience providing real laughter, which producers found more pleasing because it had a better comic "rhythm" and helped them write better jokes. By the 1980s, the only hit that still regularly used a laugh track was M*A*S*H (which increasingly dispensed with the device toward the end of its run). And while the Turn of the Millennium saw a resurgence of single-camera comedies in the US, these were influenced by the new wave of British comedies of the 1990s, which omitted laugh tracks completely (leading to some Misplaced Nationalism). Some comedies resorted to the use of certain sound effects that served the same purpose, but as the focus of 2010s-era comedies shifted towards either dramatic or outrageous situations, laugh tracks have seen a decrease in use.
Although it may not seem so, laugh tracks were surprisingly sophisticated systems at the height of their use. Rather than being just simple recordings of a laughing audience, they were actually carefully generated and mixed, with such discrete components as "the guy who gets the joke early" and "housewife giggles" and "the one who didn't get the joke but is laughing anyway" all precisely blended and reblended to create the illusion of a real audience responding to the show. Up until the late 1970's, these were all the work of one company, owned by Charley Douglass, which used a mysterious machine of his own invention to create those imaginary audiences for hundreds of shows.
A history and analysis of the laugh track can be found on the web here. Cecil Adams' syndicated column The Straight Dope also covered the topic. The Onion is very fond of mocking laugh tracks extensively.
The term "laugh track" is often misapplied to shows that are filmed and later screened to an audience, whose responses are then recorded. This is inappropriate, though, because in these cases the laughter was a genuine response to the humor in the show, and was not pre-recorded... although it's not unheard of for supplemental canned laughter to be inserted afterwards. Sometimes the term is even applied to the existence of a Studio Audience. In fact, studio audience sitcoms tend to get accused of employing "laugh tracks" more than shows that actually do so, because a laugh track tends to be quieter and less noticeable than real live audience laughter. This situation led to many shows, such as Cheers to add a disclaimer either at the beginning or the end of a program: "(Program X) is filmed before a Live Studio Audience".
In some Latin American countries (Argentina, for example), the laugh track is replaced by a crew of off-screen people paid specifically to laugh on command whenever the comedic situation (presumably) merits a laugh; they are known as reidores; a senior laugher signals all the others when to laugh. In Mexico, the Chespirito programs, particularly El Chavo del ocho, had laugh tracks for most of their runs, but in later years this device was dropped, with a disclaimer proclaiming that it was done to respect the audience.
Note that even the shows that record laughter live from an audience (or show pre-recorded material to an audience and record that laughter) will edit, alter, or even add to the laughter in some way, even if (as in most cases) it's just to cover the transition between takes/scenes, using the same techniques used to add true canned laughter.
While some claim the reason for laugh tracks is Viewers Are Morons, in their defense laughing along with everyone else in a group is a very social phenomenon and watching TV can be a very solitary phenomenon. It's not polite to laugh at something that isn't funny, not everyone has a well defined sense of humor (and that doesn't mean they are a moron, either), so the cue can be helpful to some people. One other criticism of laughter tracks is that it creates an enforced No Fourth Wall scenario for every series that features one, continually reminding viewers that that are viewing a performance rather than allowing for immersion into the story and characters (see, for example, M*A*S*H).
Laugh tracks and other uses of recorded laughter can have one interesting benefit in terms of pacing a show. Similar to theater, when the audience laughs, the actors will often pause for the joke to "land" and for the audience to calm back down before continuing. This pause is beneficial in some cases because it prevents dialogue or important details from being missed if the audience is still laughing.
- In American Born Chinese, the Chin-Kee story is meant to resemble a TV comedy—the story even uses canned laughter in the form of "hahahaha" written at the bottom of the panel. The canned laughter is played straight for most of the Chin-Kee story, until near the end when Danny fights Chin-Kee, where the laughter becomes overwhelming.
- The DVDs of Epic Movie and Date Movie actually come with an optional laugh track.
- This is mentioned in the Andy Kaufman Biopic Man on the Moon, when Andy explains why he is not interested in doing a sitcom: "It's just stupid jokes and canned laughter! And you don't know why it's there, but it's there! And it's dead people laughing, did you know that? Those people are dead!" Interestingly, this rant may have been improvised by Jim Carrey since only the first line appeared in the script.
- Used in a segment of the film Natural Born Killers establishing Mallory's backstory. Mallory's father threatening to beat up her mother, Mallory's father groping Mallory and her brother asking if he was born of incest with her all have the "audience" rolling in the aisles. MASSIVELY disturbing.
- In Annie Hall, Alvy visits Hollywood, where his best friend is editing a TV show by having false laughter added to it, much to his chagrin.
Alvie: Got any booing on there?
- In A Face in the Crowd, De Palma demonstrates a machine that can produce different kinds of laughter and applause on cue for the benefit of Lonesome Rhodes, who uses it in the final scene just to practice a speech and pretend he still has an adoring public.
- Laugh tracks are mentioned in Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby:
"Most of the laugh tracks on television were recorded in the early 1950s. These days, most of the people you hear laughing are dead."
- The first laugh track on television was used in 1950 on NBC's The Hank Mc Cune Show.
- Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch are two good examples of the height of laugh track abuse from the 1960s and early 1970s.
- The Twilight Zone (1959):
- In "The Dummy", one is used for the scenes in which Jerry Etherson is performing his ventriloquism act.
- The Poorly Disguised Pilot "Cavender is Coming" featured a laugh track during its original showing and early syndication. The director Christian Nyby was so offended by this that he refused to be in the studio when the laugh track man was present. It was removed from the syndication prints in the mid 1980s.
- In the 1980s, there was a situation comedy series written and produced by Mel Brooks (yes, that Mel Brooks) called The Nutt House. Executive Meddling resulted in laugh tracks, because the executives felt that Viewers Are Morons. The result was loud, jarring, clumsily dubbed-in laugh tracks that often drowned out the punchlines.
- Get Smart, another series with which Brooks was involved, had some especially bad laugh tracks. (Mind you, some of its jokes weren't much to laugh about anyway.)
- See also I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched and other contemporaneous sitcoms. Although the Latin American dub mercifully removed it from both shows.
- Aaron Sorkin used to engage in knock down, drag out fights with ABC execs over the laugh track in Sports Night. He hated it, they demanded it, and for a brief period at the beginning of the show's run, there was a laugh track. Sorkin eventually won out. This is especially strange given that the show was filmed in front of a live audience for the most part. An unusual hybrid of single-camera and multi-camera production, the entire episode would be performed in front of an audience, but some scenes would be performed with the actors simply reading from their scripts due to the sequences not being filmable with an audience present. Other scenes were reshot later without an audience in order to accommodate reverse camera angles. In lieu of a laugh track, recorded audience laughter from the live performances was utilized.
- The 1980s comedy Sledge Hammer! had its first-season, early-episodes laugh track edited out for the DVD release. The director's commentary explains that the talking heads at the studio forced the laugh track on him because they felt the show was too violent without it. The producer explained on the DVD that he edited it out because the audience doesn't need to be told when to laugh.
- Possibly lampshaded in the "webcast" parts of iCarly (as in, the bits where we're watching the Show Within a Show) with Sam's remote. Usually Once per Episode, she'll hold it up and press a button, which cues the laughter. It's played straight in the show proper, though.
- Towards the end of Victorious, creator Dan Schneider had begun to insert a laugh track in every line, regardless of there being any joke involved.
- Drake & Josh also uses this very often.
- True Jackson begins each episode with a narration by Keke Palmer telling us that the show was filmed in front of a live studio audience, but if you listen closely, you can still hear the same stock laughs heard in the average Kid Com. Filmed before a studio audience it may be, but laugh tracks still came into play somewhere.
- Disney Channel shows A.N.T. Farm, Good Luck Charlie, Shake it Up, and Austin & Ally, to name a few, make a good effort to use the laugh track button.
- Similar to the Out of Jimmy's Head example below, the laugh track in their Brian O'Brian shorts actually make them less funny; it's a pretty poor fit for the shorts' style.
- The laughter in the standup scenes on Seinfeld sound rather jarringly fake compared to the audience response in the rest of the show, presumably because they got a handful of actors in to play the standup patrons. Could also be that it was the "warm-up" to the show, shown before the start.
- Because the set design precluded a studio audience, "The Parking Garage" was filmed and then shown to a studio audience, then aired and syndicated with their laughter.
- Friends had a tendency to abuse a semi-laugh track. They mostly used a real studio audience but would minimalise or emphasise as they saw fit. Although, they got lazy and used the typical "canned laughter" a fair bit too. Some episodes (such as "The One With Joey's New Brain") can be particularly jarring, where it seems every line gets a laugh - including lines that clearly weren't meant to be jokes.
- The last few episodes of Out of Jimmy's Head, a one-camera Roger Rabbit Effect series on Cartoon Network, had a hastily added-in laugh track in a last ditch effort to make the show appealing. Ironically, the consensus was that it made the show less funny, as the show's absurdist and cartoony sense of humor made canned laughter an awkward fit (they were completely removed from the Italian dub).
- How I Met Your Mother has a laugh track, although very sedated compared to most. Originally it was taped ahead of time and showed edited to a live audience with their laughter recorded, but it has slipped that they switched to canned laughter at some point before season six. The show is actually something of a hybrid in terms of production and presentation, most indoor locations such as the characters apartments utilize a Three Cameras set-up while outdoor locations with a single camera are heavily used.
- Infamously (at least in Canada), the Canadian sketch comedy show The Red Green Show didn't have one... until it was imported to the United States.
- In the 1970s, the British pop music show Top of the Pops used a bizarrely fake-sounding applause track after each performance.
- M*A*S*H had one at the network's insistence, but the producers successfully averted it in the OR scenes, and were able to dispense with it entirely for certain later episodes. (The DVD releases of the show provide an option for the viewer to disable the laugh track on the episodes that have it.)
- Interestingly, one exception to the 'no laugh track in the OR' rule was in the episode "The Novocaine Mutiny", specifically, during Frank's flashback to the incident that caused him to charge Hawkeye with mutiny. It's actually a pretty handy tell that Frank is lying about what happened: note Hawkeye's flashback has no laugh track.
- Two Garry Marshall-produced sitcoms (The Odd Couple and Happy Days) had laugh tracks in their inaugural seasons, before shifting to a live Studio Audience, with the canned laughter occasionally used for "sweetening."
- The live-action segments of The Super Mario Bros Super Show!, which leads to a humourous Mondegreen when the laugh track obscures something Mario says.
- Every NBC Game Show until the 1990s had a ridiculously loud applause machine. Dennis James nicknamed it "Mother MacKenzie" on an episode of PDQ.
- The old daytime version of Wheel of Fortune was known for its canned applause. Compared with the combined cheers and applause from the current syndicated version's live audiences, the 1980s version's canned applause was still much louder. There were also awkward "ooh"s every time a prize was shown or the top dollar on the Wheel was hit, "aww"s whenever someone hit Bankrupt or called a wrong letter, et cetera.
- Super Password got a great deal of canned laughter whenever Bert Convy screwed up (which was often) or extreme applause when the show came back from commercial!
- Lampshaded on an episode of Blockbusters, where Bill Cullen lapses into Self-Deprecation mode after a particularly bad joke. He says, "can't we do this show with just an applause machine?", and someone off-camera (possibly announcer Bob Hilton) says "We are."
- Match Game used a laughter track in a bizarre way; during the opening of many episodes, while introducing the celebrity panelists, viewers could hear people giggling and laughing, even if there was nothing funny happening other than some TV star smiling at the camera. In reality the actual sound was likely audience applause (as they can be seen doing so when the camera pulls back to show audience members as the opening concludes). There is a possible rationale for this: some episodes of Match Game do not add in this sound, leading to a rather quiet, subdued opening.
- The original British version of Da Ali G Show used a laugh track, but its American adaptation (known as Ali G in da USAiii in Britain) lacks it.
- NBC's 100 Questions abused this. It was eventually cancelled after 6 episodes.
- The Singaporean television show Kids Talk Back, like a talkshow version of Kids Say the Darndest Things, was particularly bizarre in this respect. A laugh track had been added to the interviews with children, which made it seem like the audience was brutally taking the mickey out of hapless 4-8 year-olds who were unaware that they were being manipulated into saying things for the sake of good television.
- Both The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight used laugh tracks. Justified in that both shows were presented as shows being performed for an audience, and it would be entirely impossible to film this show in front of an audience due to the special effects and the puppeteers. This was something of an embarrassment to Jim Henson, who disliked the artificial quality of canned laughter but conceded it had to be used. This is most awkward during musical numbers where nothing particularly funny is happening, but the audience guffaws away for no reason.
- To The Muppet Shows credit, some of the laughter was actually the off-camera cast and crew cracking up at their co-star's antics, mixed in with the laugh track. Richard Hunt had a particularly loud laugh that can be distinctly heard, for example, in the "Japanese Cake" sketch. Sitting under the table waiting for his cue to bring the cake to life, Richard is audibly in stitches as the Swedish Chef throws candy and sugar all over the set.
- The Steve Martin episode was originally supposed to dispense with the laugh track and feature only the cast laughing (The Muppets had to cancel the show to audition new acts, but Steve Martin decided to perform anyway). However, the Muppeteer's laughter at some of Steve's antics was so loud it actually had to replaced with a laugh track to avoid drowning out the act itself.
- The Sandra Bullock episode of Muppets Tonight did a parody of Speed, where a villain set a bomb that would blow up the studio if the laugh frequency dropped too low. Trying to get the laughs back up, Pepe and Seymour do a truly dire joke that has the audience silent and unamused - and over the shot of a non-laughing audience, the laugh track gives a big laugh.
- Every CBS sitcom, even in the modern era where shows like The Office (US) and Modern Family have been critically acclaimed and immensely successful without the use of one. In fact, CBS is the only network that still uses laugh tracks with any frequency.
- Early episodes of the NBC sitcom Whitney had a poorly orchestrated laugh track that bore a striking resemblance to the flushing of a toilet.
- The Benny Hill Show actively used laugh tracks.
- Sloppily used in the later seasons of the Hungarian stand-up comedy show Showder Klub. It actually wouldn't be that noticeable if not for every other laugh ending with a jarring, high-pitched "Huh-HOOOH-huh!"
- Not only does the original U.S. version of Hogan's Heroes contain a laugh track (and a rather over modulated one in the earlier seasons), one of the German redubs of the series (known in English as A Cage Full of Heroes) adds its own laugh track, containing a single recording of a couple of women cracking up.
- Interestingly, CBS used this show as part of an experiment to see if comedies fared better with a laugh track than without. The pilot episode was screened to test audiences in two versions: one with laughter and one without. The first one fared better than the second one, supposedly due to the cerebral nature of the show's humor.
- A hybrid of Laugh Track and Live Audience is the syndicated Judge Judy. The audience is made up almost entirely of paid extras, who can be relied upon to laugh at the correct moments.
- Used extensively for the infamous Canadian sitcom,The Trouble With Tracy, due to the fact its accelerated production schedule (130 episodes were recorded within the space of only about six months) made taping in front of a live audience physically impossible.
- The Indian sitcom Dekh Bhai Dekh often used a laugh track whenever a joke was made by any of the characters.
- A Year at the Top used one, judging by the promo.
- The Brazilian version of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Greg News is recorded in front of a live studio audience, but lost that when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the show to be made from host Gregorio Duvivier's home. Yet an unintentional laugh track emerged at times: while John records alone (lest his young children hear his copious swearing), Gregorio's family is watching him off-camera, and their laughter can be heard in jokes they really like.
- Many of Ray Stevens' comedy records featured laugh tracks, such as "The Streak" and "Shriners' Convention." This may be the most egregious use of laugh tracks ever.
- Johnny Cash sometimes dubbed applause machines into his songs, most notably "Sunday Morning Coming Down". It's really, really fake-sounding.
- Josh Wink's "Don't Laugh" features a laugh sample synchronized to a 303 bassline.
- Most Professional Wrestling promotions that produce TV shows make use, to some degree, of "canned heat", which is not so much a Laugh Track as cheer tracks, boo tracks, and sometimes specific chants ("Goooooooooooooldberg... Gooooooooooooooldberg..."). This is generally played over the stadium's PA system, in an attempt to coax the crowd into a given reaction (or, at the very least, fool the audience at home into thinking the crowd are giving a reaction). And it's also handy for importing into video game adaptations.
- LVD TV one used the first music clip that had crowd noise Von Dutch could find with the note the original audio was lost.
- The first use of a laugh track on radio was on Bing Crosby's show in the late 1940s. The show was the first to be pre-recorded on tape with the help of a German Magnetophon recorder. One night, comedian Bob Burns threw in a few of his folksy farm stories, which got big laughs but couldn't be broadcast due to their extremely racy and off-color nature. The laughter was salvaged and reused a few weeks later on a show which didn't get a lot of laughs, thus inventing the laugh track.
- Strangely enough, this trope is also invoked by the Ganbare Goemon series, the most well-known example being in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. It works due to the general Camp nature of the games.
- The videogame Gekioh: Shooting King has an optional mode that replace all of the game audio with a laugh track.
- Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights has one, as a tribute to the original series (see below), even during gameplay. For instance, it usually pops up whenever Scooby accidentally runs into something and bumps his head.
- Scooby-Doo: Mystery Mayhem is another Scooby-Doo Licensed Game that uses canned laughter.
- Detective Pikachu: While on the set of a Show Within a Show Maximum Music, Tim notices that the show sounds like it has a rowdy audience but there isn't an audience.
- Steve D'Monster : The series utilized one beginning in Season Five.
"This is Monstrocity News, the only newsprogram where you can hear the sounds of laughter, other than The Gary Gnu Show."
- Steve lampshades it usage in "2012: A Look Back" (S7), when he opens his Monstrocity News broadcast with:
- Subverted in "Steve Vs. Internet Commercialism" (S7), where Steve is constantly interrupted by a series of commercials, which is met with boos and hisses.
- Hanna-Barbera is perhaps the biggest offender. Almost all of its animated series have laugh tracks, firing at more or less random times. It doesn't help that by 1971, instead of using the more sophisticated and costly Douglass laugh track services, the company was using a "bootleg" laugh track machine that recycled the same five laughs over and over in a very obvious fashion.
- The Flintstones was later remastered without a laugh track, and reportedly the humor falls flatter than a pancake without it.
- Notably the All in the Family inspired Wait Till Your Father Gets Home aired with a laugh track at first but since has been laughtrackless.
- It seems to be HB's policy to remove all laugh tracks when remastering its animated series. However, this can only be done if the original dialogue, music and effects tracks can be located, which is not always possible.
- The early Scooby-Doo series from CBS had laugh tracks added for syndication.
- The laugh tracks in the first seasons of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! were there from the get-go. Subsequent shows had the laugh track when first broadcast but the laughs were inconspicuously absent when prepared for syndication. On DVD releases, some original episodes feature the laugh track. Others don't.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated pays homage to the franchise's use of this trope at the end of the final episode.
- All H-B's prime time animated comedies in the 60s had laugh tracks. Their Saturday morning shows, save for Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, didn't. The only 1970s series that didn't have laugh tracks were those animated in Australia, the odd drama shows (Sealab 2020, Devlin) and their Tom and Jerry 1975 retool. The laugh track was abandoned in 1981.
- Any recent live-action "cartoon" produced by Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel (but see Exceptions below) is rife full of this - most of them even use the same laugh track.
- For recent Nickelodeon shows, the 6.8 or 6.2 audio subcarrier sometimes carried a music+sound effect track, with no speech. Handy for catching an instrumental version of the Danny Phantom theme, but the live action shows are distinctly disturbing: The show is silent save for gales of repetitive and inappropriate laughter punctuated by the occasional machine noise or dog bark.
- The first eight episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle featured a laugh track, against the wishes of creator Jay Ward; because of the show's rapid-fire, quick-paced humor, the laugh track often played over dialogue, as there was little to no pause allowing for laughter. Jay Ward and co-producer Bill Scott fought with ABC to remove the laugh track, but it wasn't until they were able to get the show's sponsor (General Mills) to back them up, so ABC relented, and the laughs were eliminated after those first eight episodes. The first season DVD set removes the laugh track from those episodes altogether.
- Echoed in a bump on [adult swim], where they explain that most laugh tracks are owned by Desilu Studios, and come from The '50s. They say the dead are laughing at you.
- The theatrical The Pink Panther shorts had laugh tracks added when they were shown on television. This stuck out even more in a program that had almost no dialogue at all.
- The All New Pink Panther Show pushed the laugh track to breaking point. For example, the Crazylegs Crane segments would open with canned laughter just because the character was on screen, having not done anything yet. This could be particularly annoying to that section of the audience who were far from convinced that the character was funny at all.
- The Archie Show was the first Saturday Morning Cartoon to use one.
- Rankin/Bass, following Hanna-Barbera's lead, also created a "bootleg" laugh track using samples from the Douglass library for three of their shows: The Jackson 5ive, The Osmonds and Kid Power. The tracks were initially of poor quality, with loud laughter at every joke, sometimes in mid-sentence, but the sound engineers improved their craft by the time The Osmonds and Kid Power went on the air and were able to at least slightly surpass the Hanna-Barbera laugh track in quality.
- Not exactly straight, but on Sid the Science Kid, Sid can produce one with his microphone, as well as applause.
- Camp Candy: The justification is that John is telling stories to campers and that the laughter is coming from them.
- Perhaps for such reasons, a Canadian show investigated whether a laugh track makes any difference. They played the sound from dry banter on a cop show for random persons on the street, and got some good laughs. They then added a laugh track and went out on the street again, and people laughed much harder. Statistically speaking, probably insignificant, but interesting nonetheless.
- Parodied in a sketch by Alexei Sayle... on a sketch show featuring canned laughter. He explained the technique to the viewing audience as he walked through a field, and complained about its cheapness. He then headed off accusations of hypocrisy (How could he have real viewers in a field?) by revealing a large audience on portable stadium seating.
- As early as 1959, radio comics Bob & Ray were satirizing the concept by hauling out a 'laugh machine' (because "we don't feel we're getting the correct response from you [listeners],") then making it roar with joy over a deliberately awful sitcom pilot.
- When Mitch Hedberg told a joke that fell flat with the audience on his Strategic Grill Locations CD, he joked that he'd edit in their more uproarious laughter from a previous joke after it.
- During the Doom Patrol story with the first appearance of the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., Mr. Jones has a laugh track installed in his house to emulate his "normality". It goes off seemingly at random, coinciding with him stabbing his wife and planning a massacre
- In one strip of Calvin and Hobbes Calvin decides that to liven up his life, he's going to make it more like a TV show, complete with soundtrack and laugh track. His mother's reaction mirrors that of most people on hearing a laugh track.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
- Also appears in Dragon Ball Z Abridged when Vegeta makes an Incredibly Lame Pun.
- Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged has one play whenever Genbu says "Git-er-done".
- See Star Trek: The Next Generation turned into "a crappy '80s sitcom with a few sound effects."
- The Shining as a Seinfeld style sitcom.
- A rare written example in Sherlock Homes Vs Jack The Ripper, whenever Watson does something stupid, "da audience laffs".
- A laugh track starts playing in Fireball, to the great dismay of Drossel, who is convinced it is caused by intruding spies.
- Used in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World in one scene with Scott and Wallace to show how inflated Scott's ego had gotten (to wit: he thought he was Jerry Seinfeld) We then find out that the laugh track was actually a sound coming from Wallace's stove.
- An utterly dark version appears in Natural Born Killers. The scene detailing Mallory's horrifically abusive childhood is done in the style of a classic multi-camera sitcom called I Love Mallory, complete with a laugh track.
- Annie Hall features a scene in which Alvy watches in disgust as his friend edits canned laughter a sitcom. At one point, he remarks "Got any booing on there?"
- Harlan Ellison wrote a story, "Laugh Track," about a woman whose ghost possessed all of the laugh tracks on TV (because her laughter appeared on the tape that was copied to make all of them), and instead of laughing complained loudly about the quality of the shows concerned and television in general.
- In Robert Rankin's A Dog Called Demolition, The Shrunken Head pub has a laughter track installed, greeting Danny with gales of laughter,though he can't work out where it's coming from.
- The Tines in Vernor Vinge's The Children of the Sky can only communicate with humans by reproducing the sounds of human voices, since their native tongue is The Unpronounceable. But since they can reproduce virtually any audible frequency (and many inaudible ones), they can speak in multiple voices simultaneously or even, Johanna notes, provide their own laugh track.
- In Widdershins Adventures, this trope is played for horror by the evil fairie Iruoch, who is constantly accompanied by an invisible choir of children who laugh at his every quip.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus:
- While it never actually used a proper laugh track (though it was shot in front of a studio audience), the show features a few sketches in which canned laughter and applause tracks were triggered by one of the characters — including the "Attila the Hun Show" (which parodied American sitcoms) and the "Interesting People" sketch, in which Michael Palin can be seen reaching off camera to turn the applause on and off. In the National Bocialist rally scene, all the applause for Mr. Hilter's speech comes from a gramophone which Ron Vibbentrop is working.
- Taken a step further in their running gag of using obvious black-and-white stock footage of applauding audiences throughout the series.
- Referenced in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Bread and Circuses", where we see a 20th century TV technician turning the canned applause on and off on a programme. Fine, except it's a 20th century Roman Empire and the programme consists of televised gladatorial fights to the death.
- TV Funhouse (as its own show and on Saturday Night Live) uses parody laugh-tracks, especially for their send-ups of Saturday morning cartoons of the seventies. Their Harlem Globetrotters parody includes the same staccato baritone "Heh-heh-heh-heh" after every line.
- An episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 shows Servo using a laugh track every time Crow utters his newly adopted "Sitcom" Catch Phrase "You Know You Want Me Baby!" The really old cassette player Servo is using ultimately eats the laugh track.
- A certain single-episode show summed up its content by taking the name Canned Laughter. While the end credits rolled, the same quick laugh track was played over... and over... and over...
- Done during the sitcom segment of the Changing Channels 5th-season episode of Supernatural. That episode was a riff on TV in general...
Sam: We could die in here.
Dean: How is that funny? Vultures!
- A French and Saunders sketch (featuring Dame Helen Mirren and Julia Sawalha) parodying sitcoms had the incessant laugh track constantly interrupting the already terrible punchlines, ruining the timing of the actors by cutting them off when they were speaking, making the whole thing So Unfunny, It's Funny, until they got annoyed and walked off the sketch.
- In an episode of 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan is having a drug induced hallucination which gives him an epiphany moment which gets interrupted by a laugh track, he becomes quite annoyed by them mocking him.
- In the Pierce Brosnan episode of Muppets Tonight, a particularly bad pun from Rizzo provokes no reaction whatsoever, causing Clifford to remark that "Even the laugh track didn't think that was funny."
- Used for the imaginary Show Within a Show Pyro and the Idiot in the Corner Gas episode "Self-Serving."
- The short-lived Comedy Central sitcom Big Lake featured a laugh track, but its presence was for ironic and sarcastic purposes - the stuff that it triggered on were often very uncomfortable or dark situations - essentially mocking the laugh track by using it incorrectly.
- In the early local episodes of You Can't Do That on Television, Christine says the show has no laugh track because it's both the right thing to do and they can't afford (although they added it in when they went to Nickelodeon). Then they show a clip from the local farm report with a laugh track added in.
- The Scrubs episode "My Life In Four Cameras" is a parody of classic sitcoms (as the latest patient is a former Cheers writer) and features a laugh track in several Imagine Spots.
- The CBS editions of The Price Is Right and Match Game had notoriously obvious audience reaction tracks (mainly of "oohs") in their early years. It sounded odd on Match Game simply for an Audience Match answer being revealed.
- A skit by Brazilian TV show TV Pirata had a "syndicate of canned laughter", which reclaimed for better conditions such as not laughing at bad jokes... while laughter emerged from almost every line, of course.
- Community opened its fourth season with canned laughter and applause - then it turned out this was Abed's mental "happy place" where he pictured himself and his friends in a sitcom.
- House has a dream sequence with House and Wilson raising Cuddy's daughter in a sitcom setting, complete with laugh track.
- The Archer, a villain on the 60's Batman (1966) TV series, used a laugh track in his crimes, his henchmen carrying the device around and turning it on at appropriate moments. He stole it from a "producer of so-called comedies".
- Done as a Cool and Unusual Punishment in the last episode of Danger 5, when Hitler imprisons our heroes in a sitcom starring himself: Hitler's Haus.
- Used in one episode of Mr. Robot, which starts off with a parody of 90s sitcoms, with Elliot's family as the stars on a road trip. It's just as weird as it sounds.
- Milton Berle and Mickey Rooney did what were probably the earliest "canned laughter" jokes (complete with literal laugh can) in 1954 on The Buick-Berle Show. Here is the clip.
Milton Berle: Hey, this is a boon to writers!
Mickey Rooney: Boon to writers! It's the biggest thing to comics since writers!
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia parodies the use of laugh tracks in the episode "Old Lady House: A Situational Comedy", where Dennis puts sound effects over surveillance footage of Charlie and Mac's moms to make a sitcom out of their exploits, with characters noting that the laugh track not only tells them when something is funny, it turns what would otherwise be uncomfortable situations into something funny and palatable.
- A very deliberately fake-sounding one is used in the "Dickie and Dino" segment of The Young Ones episode "Bomb" to mock the bad jokes told by Dino.
- For All Mankind. Three astronauts are stranded on the Jamestown Moonbase with their only entertainment a Betamax tape with a few episodes of The Bob Newhart Show. When the tape gets eaten in the player, they've all long since memorized the whole thing and just act it out themselves, complete with laugh track.
- Sent up in "Weird Al" Yankovic song, "Ricky," which parodies I Love Lucy (to the tune of Toni Basil's "Mickey"):
Oh Ricky, what a pity, don't you understand,
that every day's a rerun and the laughter's always canned!
- Random Assault: Sometimes used for laughs to parody the format of TV sitcoms.
- In Kirby Super Star Ultra, an unlockable blooper reel features a laugh track. Being the Kirby series, all of the laughter is unintelligible squeaks.
- Parodied in on of the chapters of Torin's Passage, where the antagonist visits a typical sitcom house where every spoken line is followed by one of three very recognizable laugh tracks, to the point of any conversation being very long, tedious and frustrating.
- The Legend of Kyrandia III: Malcolm's Revenge has what is presumably a parody of this: laughter will often occur after Malcolm's comments, regardless of whether they are intended to be funny. Thankfully, it can be disabled in the options menu.
- Paying the Undodog 100 coins in Super Mario Maker 2 causes him to tell a bad Mario-themed joke (Why is the Angry Sun so Angry? Somebody ate all of his desert!) before playing a laugh-track.
- Versus Umbra: Discussed. At one point, Adrian watches Just For Fun/Buddies. When Michael calls it one of the terrible shows with a laugh track, Michael responds that the laugh track is an awesome feature as it tells when the show is supposed to be funny.
- YouTube Poop videos will occasionally parody this.
- Space Tree: Used in Face Bee the Face Bee in Your Face! Perpetually.
- In the Flash short "Metallica Millionaire", parodying Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, there is a laugh track every time a contestant does something wrong or dumb.
- The Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse episode "A Smidge of Midge" uses a laugh track in attempt to emulate sitcoms from the early 1960s, the time during which Midge dolls began production. Skipper asks a few times if anyone else can hear the disembodied laughter, but no one answers.
- In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Cegorach's appearance in Episode 25 is accompanied by a distorted, unnerving laugh track that comes close to hysterical screaming, and plays over the opening theme.
- The first episode of Brad Jones' show LLOYD had this:
Glynis: I've got news for you: the date is going poorly.
Lloyd: You think if I yelled out "bartender I'll take another" that a laugh track will start playing?
Glynis: Why don't you try it and see?
Lloyd: Bartender, I'll take another.
The laugh track plays before the bartender mutes a television.
- CLW Entertainment: The Doraemon announcement "Just Finished a HUGE Episode of Doraemon!!" features a very repetitive laugh track Played for Laughs. The same soundbite plays whenever anything happens in the video.
- RedLetterMedia: The Plinkett reviews often use it as Sarcasm Mode, such as when Anakin and Padme are having a romantic conversation that's particularly cringeworthy.
- Used in The Nostalgia Chick's review of Grease after Sandy says that she now knows that Danny truly respects her.
- In The Dr. Steel Show, Episode 1, Doctor Steel enters his lab at the beginning of the show to wild applause, which he reacts humbly to... then reaches over and turns a dial which turns off the applause track.
- Brad Jones uses this in his 80's Dan web series, which is a parody of 80s era sitcoms. He lampshades it in his Cannibal Holocaust review as The Cinema Snob.
The Cinema Snob: Careful with that laugh track; we need it for the next "80s Dan"!
- Pittsburgh Dad, being an homage to classic sitcoms, adds a Laugh Track for stylistic reasons.
- Laugh tracks constantly play through the Board James episode "Full House/Do The Urkel", frustrating Board James to no end. There's the implication that it's all Board James's imagination.
- Most Hanna-Barbera animated series of the late 1950s and into the 1960s have laugh tracks. Justified somewhat with The Flintstones as it was intended to be an animated variant on live-action sitcoms such as The Honeymooners which were recorded in front of audiences at the time.
- In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "The Cloning", a possessed television used inappropriate laugh tracks in its efforts to scare the people watching.
- As part of her obsession with regaining her former sitcom fame, Baby Doll from Batman: The Animated Series carries a laugh track on tape with her everywhere and plays it at moments she thinks are appropriate (along with "Ohhhh..." and "Awww...").
- Lego Friends: When appearing on a competitive baking show, the host produces a remote and keeps activating Canned Laughter or Applause sound effects. Lampshaded when a reverse angle of the studio audience area reveals there isn't actually an audience. Cue the Funny Background Event when Stephanie checks under a microwave to find out where the sound is coming from.
- The Simpsons played with this a couple times.
- As in the "Love-Matic Grandpa" portion of the spinoff episode.
Moe: I'm so desperately lonely.
- Another episode had a Studio Audience hoot after Marge makes a suggestive comment. Homer immediately says "Bart, I told you not to play the TV so loud!", followed by Bart looking ashamed and the "TV audience" going "Uh-oh!"
- Another episode had Mr. Burns taking over all the TV stations and putting on his own stupid shows to blackmail Homer. Every single line had canned laughter after it, even though nobody was telling any jokes.
- The episode "$pringfield", in which Marge develops a gambling addiction. Marge promises Lisa she will give up gambling, saying she will stay home. The two of them hug, with Homer saying, "Aw... just like on TV". Cue to Homer tripping over a chair, with canned laughter.
- As in the "Love-Matic Grandpa" portion of the spinoff episode.
- Family Guy:
- An episode has a gag of Brian making some comment to Peter, followed by canned laughter and applause; the two of them fidget while waiting for it to die down.
- Also used during the opening host segment of the "Viewer Mail" episode. Stewie claims he swiped the can from Dharma & Greg.
- In PTV, Stewie and Brian make a sitcom called Cheeky Bastard. Stewie claims that the show is "recorded in front of a live audience", but the (fake) laughing is actually provided by him.
- An earlier episode had a gag involving an actual studio audience having moved in across the street. Peter eventually gets fed up with them and goes to call the cops.
- Taken Up to Eleven in one episode where Brain's heavily edited show is played before a live studio audience. Every time James Woods and another actor says something, the audience laughs at the line and it's the same exact laugh every time, making it sound like the laughter is canned.
- The "Multiverse" episode parodies the laugh track used in the Fintstones when Stewie and Brian travel to a dimension where everything is made by Hanna-Barbera; nearly everything Rock Peter and Rock Lois says triggers canned laughter.
- "Two and a Half Men was filmed in front of a live ostrich."
- Robot Chicken had the canned laughter in Blooper's segment. In season 5 however, it turned out that the host was hallucinating it and the laughter changed into distorted (while telling nobody to "STOP MOCKING ME!"
- In the South Park episode "Jakovasaur", the household of the Jakovasaurs is presented as a typical Dom Com, complete with laugh track. When Cartman comes to visit, he wonders where all the laughter is coming from.
- Also in South Park, the episode "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery" used a laugh track which also prompts a similar reaction from Cartman (because the episode is a parody of Scooby Doo). This episode also features Korn (guest voiced by the actual band), and Kenny in an ED-209 costume. It Makes Sense in Context
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Billy wishes for the perfect dog, but he doesn't know which of the four dogs he should take home. He then convinces Grim to use the magic of his scythe to combine all four dogs into one single perfect dog named Wiggy Jiggy Jed. The dog (who is a parody on Hanna-Barbera characters like Yogi Bear) in question makes quirky jokes that are immediately met by a disembodied laughing. The cast take note of it right away - Mandy: "Where is that creepy laughter coming from?"
- The Justice Friends segment of Dexter's Laboratory uses laugh tracks in parody of live-action sitcoms (of which it borrows a format).
- One episode of Rocko's Modern Life featured two parasite characters living on Spunky, whose adventures were spoofs of typical '60s sitcoms. The scenes with them have laugh tracks, which the rest of the show lacks.
- The Show Within a Show The Fatheads also had a laugh track, with the characters mugging for the camera whenever it played. Of special note, however, is that instead of a group of people, the track consisted of a single guy laughing hysterically.
- An episode of Chowder featured some jokes uncharacteristically followed by a laugh track, until Mung finally orders a stop to "the canned laughter." This being "Chowder", it was quite literal.
- In an episode of Futurama, the president of the network which airs "All My Circuits" proves how evil he is by saying, "I once put a laugh track on a sitcom that had no jokes in it!"
- In "A Bicyclops Built for Two", Katey Sagal's role on Married... with Children is parodied when an alien, Alkazar, has Leela dressed like Peggy and Alkazar sitting on his couch with one hand down his trousers ala Al Bundy, with alien rats and pigs as friends of his who contribute the 'live audience' catcalls and whoops.
- "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" has a segment spoofing Scooby-Doo, where the characters comment on the mysterious laughter they keep hearing, even when they don't say anything funny.
- Parodied in one episode of Danger Mouse where the title character says "I thought we weren't going to have canned laughter on this show" after knight in armor laughs and runs off after a dragon.
- A Venture Brothers episode ran flashbacks of Rusty and Pete's college days with a laugh track added to evoke an '80s sitcom.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series didn't normally use a laugh track, but included a brief snippet of a laugh track following one of the jokes in "You Slipped a Disk" as well as the second half of the episode, "Chow About That?," apparently as throwaway gags.
- The 1991 show Spacecats had an episode dealing with a native tribe chief who wants canned laughter and applause after everything he says.
- The Powerpuff Girls revival episode "Somewhere Over The Swingset" had the girls entering an alternate world Townsville where everything is 50's sitcom perfect and every line is met with canned laughter/reactions. The girls even want to know where the laughter is coming from.
- Original series episode "The City Of Clipsville" was the girls and the Professor looking back at their past. It ends with the voiceover and superimposed caption "The Powerpuff Girls was recorded in Burbank in front of a live studio audience," with canned laughter and applause over it.
- On one episode of Kaeloo, the cast were making their own parody of a sitcom. There was Canned Laughter every time somebody made a joke, no matter how cheesy or lame it was. Later, Stumpy walks in through the door, and a laugh track plays, causing him to get annoyed.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Test" Gumball decides to try and break out of his role as the loser, which causes the show to turn into a lame, outdated sitcom centered around Tobias. As well as the show suddenly having poorer video and sound quality, it adds a laugh track that, as Sarah points out, gets louder the worse the joke is.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: The Series: Hector Evilman's creation in "Inventors Only" with mice enacting Seinfeld plays laugh tracks, with Hector explaining: "and this is something I call Mice TV, the only sustainable future of entertainment! What makes it funny is the laugh track telling you it's funny." This leaks into the real world as the track plays when Flint remarks "I came here expecting to get killed." Followed with a D'awww when he continues with "all you've done is murder my fears...with friendship."
- Subverted in David Lynch's Rabbits, in which a surreal sitcom whose only dialogue is out-of-order and nonsensical is still punctuated by a laugh track.
- Scrubs is a notable exception, all the funnier for a lack of a laugh track in almost every episode (there is one exception in the Imagine Spot episode ("My Life in Four Cameras") which parodies the traditional Sitcom) — the lack of a laugh track allows for innovative use of Sound Effects instead.
- NBC actually advertised its Thursday night comedy block (which Scrubs was a part of) as being completely laugh-track free. NBC's shows have been (since Friends ended at least) completely devoid of laugh-tracks or any similar substitutes.
- Police Squad! had neither a laugh track nor a live studio audience. The DVD Commentary talks about how they fought with the executives about this — however this is inadvertently subverted because the creators hadn't seen the shows for a while, and laughed at the jokes — making their commentary a laugh track in and of itself.
- A couple of sitcoms made by the Disney Channel actually have not used a laugh track — Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and Jonas. Naturally Sadie, Phil of the Future, and Life with Derek, all of which have been aired on the channel, also do not have a soundtrack.
- The Canadian sitcoms Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Made in Canada and Robson Arms avoid Laugh Tracks. (Except, as noted with the Corner Gas example elsewhere on this page, for comedic effect.)
- The Monkees got rid of their laugh track in the middle of their 2nd (and final) season, and the non-laugh track episodes have such a different feel it almost seems like they're part of a different show.
- The Kenny Everett Video Show on ITV in the late 70s was unique in that there was no studio audience, but the viewer could clearly hear the cameramen, floor manager, writers and other studio crew laughing out loud off screen.
- The League of Gentlemen ditched their laugh track after series 2. (The original Radio series had a live studio audience.)
- The Christmas Special of Drake & Josh finally ditches the laugh track.
- As did Drake And Josh Go Hollywood.
- Same deal with the Wizards of Waverly Place movie.
- Red Dwarf, which was considered by a lot of fans to have a laugh track, was in fact filmed in front of a live studio audience throughout most of its eight-series run, at least the bits that weren't on location or technically complicated.
- The exception is Series VII. It was not recorded in front of an audience at all, due to the fact so much of it was filmed on location and involved complex special effects, but it was screened to an audience in post-production in order to provide a laugh track — it mostly works, but there are a couple of conspicuous points where the actors pause for laughter and there is none. Three episodes from Series VII were available in extended versions without laugh tracks - on a VHS called Xtended (later also on the Series VII DVD) - but this did not get very good responses from fans. As a result, the makers abandoned their idea of not using laugh tracks in Series VIII (by returning to the format of recording episodes in front of a live audience).
- The Back to Earth mini-series that constituted Series IX, was totally filmed on location (or at the Shepperton soundstage), and has no laughter track.
- The pre-recording of Red Dwarf sequences played back to the audience on screens didn't begin with series VII, though. Long before then, numerous episodes had had lengthy sequences pre-recorded due to their reliance on location shooting or effects work. For example, the series IV episode "Bodyswap" was entirely pre-recorded, due to the actors having to overdub each other's voices.
- During "Bodyswap", you can hear the cast of the show on the laugh track. (They were sitting in the audience during the laughter recording.)
- Craig Charles and Chris Barrie only agreed to return for Series X if it was filmed in front of a studio audience. Unfortunately this took up so much of the budget that all location filming had to be cancelled. This had the knock-on effect of making the scripts for episodes 5 and 6 unusable as they relied heavily on locations they could no longer afford. The replacement script for episode 5, "Dear Dave", was cobbled together so fast they could only film half of it in front of the audience. The rest of the scenes were filmed in post-production and the finished episode aired for fans at a convention to complete the laugh track.
- Married... with Children is one of those cases where people bitch and moan about the "laugh track"... and are ignoring the fact the series was taped in front of a live audience. Live audiences can provide situation-specific reactions that would be difficult to get from a can; in one episode, a tarantula crawls across Al's face while he sleeps, and as the audience's "Eeeew!" dies down, one voice rises above the crowd to ask, "Is it real?"
- The show's studio audience by the latter half of the run was actually filled with hardcore fans of the show that were excited to be there (versus the "Hey you're visiting Hollywood, come in and watch a TV show being filmed!" that many shows did) and maybe at times were a little...overboisterous (the many moments where its obviously breaking the flow of the characters waiting abnormally long times to speak or continue a conversation because the crowd's going crazy),note but the crew and actors were always extremely offended at the notion. They didn't NEED sweeteners/canned laughter.
- Another series that averts this is The IT Crowd, also recorded before a live studio audience.
- I Love Lucy was filmed in front of a live studio audience, and is rumored to be the source of a good deal of the canned laughter used in later shows.
- Cheers is probably the most famous example of a show drawing attention to their live studio audience; a random cast member announcing that fact would be the first thing audiences heard every episode (as opposed to most shows, like All in the Family, which did so over the end credits). Not that they really needed to; watch any given episode and you can hear every last titter or cough from some random audience member. That set must have had some great acoustics...
- Most sketch shows are filmed in front of studio audiences. In shows that have a weird sense of humor or play with format a lot, this is often self-evident, because there'll be a lot of apprehensive tittering if the audience doesn't know where a sketch is going, or one person howling uncontrollably while the rest of the audience is just mildly amused, or occasionally a punchline or an important silence being ruined by premature laughter. Understandably, performers of shows like this can get quite exasperated when they're accused of using canned laughter — why would anyone deliberately add in audience reactions that get in the way of the jokes?
- According to the "liner notes" on the Monty Python's Flying Circus Ultimate Collector's Edition, the Pythons never used a "laugh track". The laughter on their skits all came from the studio audience. If a routine didn't get enough laughs, they didn't "sweeten" the laughs- they just left that routine on the cutting-room floor and didn't air it.
- SCTV did sketch comedy without a live audience. The formative years for the show were shot in Edmonton, Alberta, where television talent was apparently so sparse that the laugh track was done by the guy who did the farm reports, just adding laughter at regular, arbitrary intervals.
- Delta House, a sitcom version of the surprise hit movie Animal House, went beyond canned laughter to canned wolf whistles, canned villain-booing, etc. in a vain attempt to capture the feel of the movie.
- The current trend of mockumentary style sitcoms like The Office (US) and Parks and Recreation has dealt another blow to the laugh track. Obviously, shows like these can't use laugh tracks, since that would destroy the illusion that the shows consist of documentary footage. This type of series doesn't use music (except in the opening credits) for the same reason.
- Glenn Martin DDS, a stop-motion show, had a laugh track for about 8 episodes until it was removed entirely because the creators claim "it gave the show too much internal thinking".
- Some Nick shows have no laugh track, such as Zoey 101, Big Time Rush and The Troop, which are somewhat unusual for the channel but are all justified by not being typical Three Cameras Kid Com shows and being shot extensively on location. It also helps than Zoey 101 is a dramedy and The Troop is an action/adventure show. Subverted at least with Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide in which the laugh track was replaced with a set of specific "stand-in" soundsnote , having one for a determinate situation.
- Same goes for some Disney Channel Shows, such as the channel's earliest shows, the show Lizzie McGuire and more recently Jonas L.A. which was shot on location in (you guessed it!) L.A. Jonas L.A. also was Disney Channel's first show with a continuing story in each episode. It too was a drama, so no need for laugh track.
- In a surprising example, the Canadian Kid Com Wingin It avoids using a laugh track.
- The Big Bang Theory is one of the few shows that proudly uses a Studio Audience. As the show became more popular most of the audience consists of die-hard fans, thus the laughter tended to be a bit more aware of the nuances of the show and were anticipating the punchlines (ie Sheldon starts an innocuous sounding dialogue about Windows 7 and there are some snickers at "It is much more user friendly" before the actual joke of "I don't like it"). This resulted in many people assuming the show did, in fact, use a laugh track. One Chuck Lorre Vanity Plate at the end of an episode featured a composite picture of the studio audience with the caption "This is our 'laugh machine'"
- In an inversion, taping reports for the show suggests that some laughter and other audience responses were edited out because it clashed with their intended mood for a scene (such as when Penny kissed Leonard for the first time after they get back together, the scene as aired has no audience noise but apparently the crowd was "whoo"ing on every take). This is referred to as Sweetening, which involves using a live studio Audience, but also editing in canned laughter in order to smooth out transitions or edit scenes where audience response drowns out the acting.
- Additionally, as common in similar shows there are some locations where a studio audience would not be able to attend such as an actual park or street corner. The show also has a sequence where the characters climb the stairs to Sheldon and Leonard's apartment, which are filmed in piecemeal fashion because each floor is a redress of the same set, making it difficult for the studio audience to laugh at a punchline set up on a previous floor.
- Malcolm in the Middle doesn't use a laugh track either.
- Malcolm in the Middle's ultimate legacy is that, along with the British sitcom Spaced, it's considered to be the Trope Codifier of the single camera, laugh track-free sitcom. Since Malcolm premiered, it's become popular for high-quality, single-camera sitcoms like Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (US), 30 Rock, Community, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development and Flight of the Conchords (among others) to eschew laugh tracks entirely. Coincidentally (or rather not) these shows are usually some of the most acclaimed comedies on television, with laugh-addled comedies seen as lowbrow. Naturally, some (specially people related with the laugh track) have often complained that the stuffiness of modern comedies (specially regarding the British-influenced "Mockumentary" format) has made them devoid of any climax, even if their criticism is dissed as Misplaced Nationalism).
- Oddly enough, The Mighty Boosh was supposed to have a laugh track in its early stage of production, as we can see with the pilot episode (it's included in the DVDs). They actually showed the episode in front of an audience and recorded their laughter. Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding found the audience overdid it so much that they decided not to keep it. It sounds disastrous indeed, as The Boosh is clearly not a "laugh out loud" type of comedy.
- All in the Family was recorded in front of a live studio audience, as announced at the end of nearly each episode. In the later seasons they stopped using live audiences, presumably because they were distractions to the actors; they played back each episode to the audience instead.
- Latin American hits, El Chavo del ocho / El Chapulín Colorado. It is a long story. These shows were originally filmed in front of a Studio Audience and then got increasingly abusive of the laugh tracks late in their run, but the later sketch show Chespirito from the same author that often included El Chavo Del Ocho and El Chapulin Colorado did not have a laugh track and it was explicitly mentioned that it was for respect of the audience. However, it is worth noticing that it actually used certain music tracks that played after each joke.
- The Seinfeldian German sitcom Pastewka doesn't use a laugh track. German critics agreed that this vastly improves the deadpan quality of the show.
- Home Improvement not only used a live studio audience's laughter, but they also got their extras from audience volunteers. For "Tool Time" the studio audience was the actual studio audience, and you can see how people are laughing at the gags on the show as though they were at a sitcom taping.
- The Daily Show and likewise its sister show The Colbert Report are filmed in front of a live audience. Both hosts interact with it fairly often, usually by telling them an off color joke was still funny, or criticizing their choice to laugh at a gag.
- Titus used a live studio audience, but with a twist in style. Every episode had a main story taking place primarily in one location and in approximate Real Time, and this was performed as a play. A Framing Device called the neutral space (a black and white room where Titus talked directly to the camera) divided up the action with a Flashback, Imagine Spot or other type of gag to put the main story in perspective. The cast would record the various Neutral Space-related bits on Wednesday, but also rehearse the main story all week for the Friday taping. At the taping they would perform the main story live for the Studio Audience, but would also show the audience video of the Neutral Space material in the appropriate place in the overall episode, capturing the laughter as a complete episode rather than in piecemeal.
- Bill Cosby's first sitcom, the 1969-71 series The Bill Cosby Show, aired without a laugh track at Cosby's insistence (and over the objections of NBC executives).
- Later The Cosby Show was taped in front of a live audience.
- Saved by the Bell had a live studio audience - and, like the audiences from Married... with Children and The Big Bang Theory, it was very in-your-face and obnoxious. However, predecessor series Good Morning Miss Bliss used a conventional laugh track; and since the two shows are part of the same syndication package, it makes for a good education as to the differences between the two.
- Steven Moffat's sitcom Chalk provides a case-study in one of the dangers of using a studio audience. The audience for the first series found the show hilarious, to the extent that a second series was commissioned before the first had even aired, and the BBC compared it to Fawlty Towers in the publicity material. The problem was that the show's loudness, while excellent theatre, did not translate at all well to television and the first series flopped while the second was being made. The second was aired, but in increasingly lesser graveyard slots.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack used this in the episode "Please Retire" and "Under the Sea Monster". Word of God states that this (along with a episode-long "drawn in front of a live audience" gag) is done whenever the crew thinks an episode could have been better, but they didn't have enough time to fix any problems with it.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas was supposed to air with a laugh track, a common element of children's cartoons at the time. Charles Schulz objected, maintaining that the audience doesn't need to be cued to laugh. The special was so successful that it completely exterminated the use of a laugh track in animated comedy, nowadays a laugh track is almost never used in Western animation except to make fun of its existence.
- The 1988 Mighty Mouse episode "Bat With A Golden Tongue" had Mighty Mouse attempting to help Bat-Bat kick his joke-telling addiction. Bat-Bat's last word to the audience was "Just say no to canned laughter" (which was removed at McDonald's insistence) followed by a pan shot to a busted ceiling (caused from an earlier scene) and canned laughter.
- Averted in The Alvin Show. Ross Bagdasarian insisted that the show skip the addition of a laugh track, against the wishes of the network. Though there was the sound of clapping that sounded like it came from a recording in "Wild, Irish Rose."
- In Hazbin Hotel, Alastor, the Radio Demon, speaks like a 1920s or 1930s radio personality, complete with a constant Radio Voice, even though he's personally present. This is accompanied by didactic period music and a subtle laugh track that sometimes appears when he laughs (though noticeably, not when he laughs as part of a threat). This is used for sinister effect, as a reflection of his demonic powers.