Do you mourn the laugh track? Sure, it still exists on duds like The Big Bang Theory and Kevin Can Wait, but the majority of TV comedies have rendered the laugh track as dead as the people who, once upon a time, produced that very laughter. Well, YouTuber Drew Gooden most surely does not mourn the laugh track, which, in the above video essay, he argues does more to hobble a show’s humor than boost it. He makes his case by showing how a show like The Office, which doesn’t have a laugh track, has the space and efficiency to tell more jokes per minute than a show like Friends, which has a laugh track.
Using a popular episode from each show—Friends’ “The One Where They Find Out” and The Office’s “Stress Relief” (both the 14th episodes of their fifth seasons, oddly enough)—Gooden discovered that, in 21 minutes, The Office managed to tell 166 jokes while Friends scored only 121. The disparity is not on the writers so much as the laugh track itself, which, along with the series’ interstitials, gobbles up a whopping five minutes and 20 seconds of screen time. That’s over 25% of the episode.
To further demonstrate his point, Gooden shared that five minutes and 20 seconds on Twitter to demonstrate just how much time of the show is wasted on audial filler.
Obviously, humor is subjective, but if one is operating on the belief that more jokes equal more laughter, then, well, the results speak for themselves, don’t they?