Tonight, my wife and I were cooking dinner and the TV was on in the background. It was tuned to some corny CBS show and without even hearing the punchline, the laugh track rang out above the rest of the ambient noise. With my back toward the TV, the laughs sounded incredibly fake….watching the show for a few seconds they were timed perfectly, telling me when something was “funny” and abruptly ending so the actor could launch into the next contrived punchline.
This practice dates back to the 50’s and 60’s with network executives at the time claiming that the absence of the canned laughter would mean that viewers “wouldn’t be able to tell whether or not the show was a comedy,” rendering shows without laugh tracks a failure.
Flash forward to modern day TV and shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Flight of the Conchords, The Office, 30 Rock, Always Sunny, The League, East Bound & Down and Modern Family have forced comedy to stand on its own….allowing viewers to enjoy punchlines as they flow naturally through the show. In fact, over the last 5 years, only 3 shows with laugh tracks have been nominated for an Emmy in the “Outstanding Comedy Series” category….none of them won.
The trend in comedy TV has clearly shifted…the shows have to be funny. Viewers are savvy, laugh tracks are insulting.
The same thing goes for your company…you need to solve a real problem and deliver a rock solid solution. If you’re not, simply promoting it more won’t get you anywhere. Customer’s can’t be tricked by fancy advertisements, empty promises or shoddy products.