I’ve never watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Without ever having seen it, The Big Bang Theory–and admittedly, this is based on almost no real evidence, it is just a feeling–looks like it picks up where Boy Meets World left off. And maybe it’s just me, but I never thought at any point in my life, “Hey, you know what I’m curious about? How Topanga’s internship at that law firm turned out!” Again, I have no idea whether or not The Big Bang Theory is actually a continuation of Boy Meets World or not. As far as I know, it could be a reality TV show about who is the next best applied physics theorist. (Boo! Lasagna!)

In ANY CASE, this clip from the show in which the laugh track has been removed is as much of The Big Bang Theory as I have ever and will ever watch, but I feel completely satisfied by my experience:

The weirdest thing about this clip is actually NOT the eerie pregnant pauses where the laugh track used to be, it is trying to guess what is actually supposed to be a “joke” that people would laugh at in the first place. (Via Vulture.)

Comments (45)
  1. Oh my god, that’s brilliant. It makes the sitcom look like some postmodern play.

    I wonder what would be the best sitcom to de-laugh-track-ify and make totally creepy. Married with Children, without the crowd catcalling Kelly Bundy?

  2. I know this is out of context and a clear hit job, but I have roommates who religiously watch this show and insist it is good. This video gives me a strange happy feeling I usually associate with trampoline accident videos.

  3. Ouch! Can I out myself as a Big Bang Theory fan? I guess I just did! This season has been bad, but there were some genius moments in the first two seasons! Sheldon is simply one of the best characters on TV right now.

    • I definitely do not like this show the times I have watched it, but Jim Parsons is very good and I wish better for him. Maybe he’ll play an uptight nerd on a good show one day!

    • No, you are right on the money. BBT is a good show. It’s up there with How I Met Your Mother in the underrated post-Arrest Development sitcoms category. It’s like everyone thinks that because a few comedies hit gold with the single camera no laugh track format, we can’t enjoy the old format anymore.

      I was reluctant to check out BBT as well, but it won me over after just a couple of episodes. To be fair, I’m kind of a huge sci fi and comics geek, and the jokes often seem written specifically for people like me. But all the more reason to appreciate them, I guess. The clip above is not very funny, and I agree that laugh tracks are annoying in general, but this is a good show.

    • I don’t know how to use the internet. Is that the guy from Garden State who says, “It says BALLS across your forehead!” ??

    • WHY?

      my mom always watches this who and I keep trying to find something funny but I have failed so see anything remotely humurous in BBT.

      Sheldon alternates between annoying and stupid but is never funny and never intelligent.

      it is just lazy and inept writers that have to rely on a laugh track when there are not any decent jokes and not any good lines in the dumb show.

      this show reminds me of Numb3rs or Alias John Smith were you have mediocre people pretending to be smart and the writers don’t do enough research to get the intelligent parts correct.

      or with How I Met Your Mother where they think that Doogie Howser makes a believable womanizer?

  4. It’s weird, without a laugh track and maybe not even a studio audience, how pedestrian the act of making a comedy show is. It’s like an industrial process. Here’s the script now hammer this out and ship it.

    • i think you are overgeneralizing “comedy show,” but you raise an interesting point about studio-audience, applause-sign types of comedy shows. that guy pitches a zinger like that, and then counts to four, and then starts talking again. that’s pretty strange.

      did anyone ever watch sports night? contentwise, i found it decent, but i couldn’t watch it because the laugh track just felt terribly out of place, and i couldn’t get over it.

      • Did you make it to season 2? The laugh track fades out as the series progresses. They never wanted to use it, but were forced by ABC.

      • Sports Night was the one with the guy who went on to star in Six Feet Under, right? I remember liking it. That and News Radio. For mid-90′s media related comedy shows.

      • Actually, Sports Night drops the laugh track about the middle of the 1st season. If you can stick out past the first few episodes, the pay off is definitely worth it. It’s such a good show.

  5. You’re not missing much, but I find the show less annoying without the laugh track.

  6. This “laugh track removed” gotcha thing is a little unfair. I think shows with laugh tracks leave room for laughter in the timing of the dialogue. It’s like live theater. You can say anything while the audience is laughing or they won’t hear it.

    That being said, there’s a ton of “Friends” without laugh track support online (or there used to be- I dunno if NBC has gobbled them up) and the show looks like a pretty weird high school play with the LOOOOOONG spaces between weird outdated sarcasm punchlines.


  8. Speaking of lasagna this is no Garfield Minus Garfield

    • I really dislike Garfield Minus Garfield, cause it isn’t that funny or sensical. If you remove the main character from any comic, of course the remaining characters will say things that are funny/insane. I much prefer Silent Garfield cause it makes sense. It is Garfield how Jon sees it, cause technically Garfield only thinks his lines. But the lesser meme gets a book deal and the other gets squat. Alright, Professor Critic of Comic Memes Where Elements of Garfield are Removed out!

  9. Another fan over here. Wouldn’t say “religious fan”, but I like this show. The clip didn’t need any laugh track because I provided my own. I was LOLing all the way to the non-bank.

    (If you’ve seen the show and are familiar with Sheldon, you’d understand this scene)

  10. Here, Here – Let me add a laugh/clap track!

  11. I’ve never watched this show, but is that Moist from Dr. Horrible? If so, he looks so different without dripping pores.

  12. I have seen this show. And I laughed about as much as the people in this clip.

  13. For those who don’t watch it, and in true Videogum comment style, I’ve put together an animated gif of all the funniest scenes from The Big Bang Theory:

    Yeah it’s just that hilarious.

  14. I think what’s going on here is that the character is not gay, but is being mistaken for gay because of what he is saying. Or (more likely) he is gay and hasn’t figured it out yet.

  15. Gabe! Don’t talk shit about Boy Meets World. Saying you don’t care what Topanga is up to these days is the biggest lie ever published on Videogum.

    P.S. She’s hosting some clip show on the Style network if you were wondering.

  16. I much prefer the old Wire clip with laugh track added, because regardless of socio-political undercurrents and dramatic context, “shiny-head motherfucker” is always funny.

  17. This show is basically the only thing ever on TV in the staff room at work, other than Will & Grace (why yes, I have considered studying the suicide rates among H&M employees as my senior thesis, why do you ask?). Anyway, while the show is obviously stupid, it’s also really kind of charming. Jim Parsons makes it worth it. (Check him out on Ellen, ADORABLE.)

  18. so wait, David and Darlene are back together?

  19. So can we take a monologue, cut out the audience noise, and begin the joke halfway through so the set-up to the punchline is missing and make fun of say … Conan?

    Without any clue as to the kind of character that Sheldon is, or why he’s even asking the guy those questions, the joke is bound to fall flat.

    But look at me being all seriousgum over here.

    Still, on the subject of laugh tracks, Fawlty Towers had the studio audience thing, but they were all, screw the live crowd, just keep talking. The laugh track isn’t just a crutch for bad comedy, it also pads out the story. There is a reason the Simpsons and Family Guy, etc, have to burn through a story in the first act and then have a completely unrelated one in the second act … without pausing for a laugh track they need to include at least 33% more stuff. But hey, maybe instead of a laugh track we can have 5 minutes of Conway Twitty.

    • Perhaps you intend the question to be rhetorical, but no, we couldn’t remove the “audience noise” from a Conan monologue and achieve the same effect, because, while the result would have similar drawn out, Pinter-style pauses, it would also have what the Big Bang Theory clips lack: a joke. Seriously, what is the joke? A girl is complaining about not being able to find a date, so her male friend propositions a gay man on her behalf? Who gives his phone number and then turns away without asking the name of the man who just sexually propositioned him? Is that the joke? Removing the laugh track works here because it reveals how completely inhuman and absurd (and joke-free!) the script is. Conan tells jokes.

      (Incidentally, the YouTube user who made this use to have a companion piece, a scene from the American The Office with a laugh track added. It was taken down after a copyright claim from nbc.)

      • It is a Sit-Com. That means situation comedy. Considering your reply indicates you don’t know either the situation or the characters involved in the situation, of course you are going to miss he joke. This point that this is a punchline without the setup. True, sitcoms are not standup acts or monologues … they are narratives. Showing only a small part of a complete story will have a significant impact on the comedy. The alternative is one of those Adult Swim programs with no narrative at all where it’s entirely made of non sequitors.
        The “Joke” is mostly built around Sheldon’s character being obvlious to things outside of his own geeky areas of expertise. I don’t have the series memorized, but considering who is at the table he wasn’t asking to help the girl out. The “debate” referenced at the start of the clip is the set up for the joke. Likely, most humor, especially character based humor, stripped of all context, would leave it unfunny. It is not the laugh track being removed that makes this “lack of joke” fall flat … but the lack of any context to explain why it would be funny. A Conan O’Brien joke about “you can do anything you want … unless Jay Leno wants to do it too” would hardly be funny to someone that has no idea what is going on with the NBC line up. Similarly the second half of a scene from 30 Rock, only showing the “payoff” to a Liz Lemon is a loser “joke” wouldn’t be particularly funny to someone who saw only that clip without much knowledge of the show.

  20. (you guys have seen this, right?
    The Wire with a Laugh Track”)

  21. I did a quick text search and no one has mentioned David Lynch so I now feel obliged to mention him.
    Did anyone else detect a David Lynch-like presence in the interim of the laugh breaks?
    Anyone who has seen his series of shorts entitled “Rabbits,” knows what I’m talking about. (I believe they were all collected in Inland Empire) Netflix PlayNow!

  22. My parents like the Big Bang Theory.

  23. I’m a big fan of the Big Bang Theory and it’s clear what the problem is. Those of you who don’t like Big Bang Theory are dumb stupid heads. If you can’t bother to watch a full episode I won’t bother to make a joke.

  24. I don’t LOVE the big bang theory, but it’s watchable. And it’s got some great nerdy references sprinkled in to make it worth your while.
    And besides that, compared to Two and a Half Men which comes on before it (I saw my first episode last night in which racism and anal leakage were both topics used for cheap jokes. Yay Anal Leakage!) it might as well be The fucking Wire.
    Let’s pick on Two and a Half Men instead!

  25. I think family matters would be good without laugh tracks. The show already feels like a bad acid trip, even with the laugh tracks

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