Most of us weren't around to see the original airing of the first mega-popular sitcom:
I Love Lucy and other early sitcoms used live studio audiences to help viewers feel as though they were viewing a play in a theater. The tradition never really ended, but studios did come up with a way to get that laughter without the expense of a real audience: laugh tracks.
Over the years, the use of laugh tracks and live audiences has been controversial. Some network execs believed it was essential, forcing TV comedies like M*A*S*H to use them even when producers felt they shouldn't. However, the 90s saw the debut of the single-camera sitcom, which took the audience out of the picture completely. Some of the most successful comedies of the past 20 years have completely gone without forced laughter, including this show (considered revolutionary in the no-laugh-track genre):
And one of my all-time favorites:
Unfortunately, once you get used to NOT having laughter with your comedy, it can become annoying. Most of the time I ignore them...after all, I grew up on canned laughter. But sometimes a studio audience is just SO obnoxious, it takes you out of the comedy and makes you listen to the audience instead. The one and only time this has happened to me is with this show:
That show's live audience laughed at everything. Ev-er-y-thing. Someone walks across the room? Laughter. Someone says, "How are you today?" Laughter. That happens with a lot of these shows, probably because of the little sign all these shows have directing the audience when to laugh:
What gets me about That 70s Show is the cheering. If you've ever watched a Disney show or an old episode of Saved by the Bell, you already know that when two characters do something the audience likes, they scream and cheer.
But on That 70s Show, they cheer at even the slightest drug reference. I do mean "slightest." I don't even get what they're cheering about half the time, which I take as a good sign. But I wonder if anyone does.
I think I've figured it out, though. I think they handed this out to the audience before every show:
Have you ever been annoyed by something on a TV show you're watching? Did you stop watching as a result?