Cue Awkward Silence

Here’s Drake Bennett, from the Fall TV issue of Slate:

There’s nothing new about denigrating the laugh track. It’s been viewed with scorn and suspicion from its invention in 1950, when it debuted to little fanfare on a short-lived comedy called The Hank McCune Show. In the decades since, it has stood accused of everything from bad faith to brainwashing to mere artistic laziness. It’s survived all the opprobrium, however, and, in one form or another, it’s likely to survive further still. In fact, at a time when it’s seemingly being relegated to the pop-culture curio closet, its use is actually extending beyond the sitcom—and even beyond television itself.

Indeed. But, you know, if you swipe some studio-audience footage off the TV and paste it into your comedy webcast, it can really help bolster the illusion:

Coming next from Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center: cute kittens and a canned ‘Awww!’ track.

…Also, in a very special episode, Warner Todd Huston puts on waterskis and jumps over a shark.

Update: Steve H. of the Hog on Ice blog asks a technical query:

While I was fiddling around trying to get information on the latest round of fake debate questions planted by Democrat candidates, I accidentally started a Youtube video over at Newsbusters, the conservative site dedicated to exposing liberal establisment media bias. It was a Daily Show sort of thing, featuring and anchor named Jodi Miller. I watched for a minute or two. It really wasn’t bad. Not the funniest material in the universe, but a pretty good effort. And the production was slick, and it appeared that they had a genuine studio audience which did not come in a can. Is Newsbusters big enough to have a studio, or are they faking it with some piece of Adobe software or other?

Hi, Steve. The Media Research Center, a 501(c)(3) organization [.pdf], reported its 2006 income as $10.8 million, so yes, Newsbusters is quite a bit bigger than Michelle Malkin — big enough, even, to have a studio significantly spiffier and more copious than the one Malkin has in her laundry room.

However, as you can imagine, filling such a studio week after week with an audience of presentable humans… Well, there’s the thing. The software is Adobe TwoClappingGirls CS3, which generates a video image of two girls clapping. The laughter and applause is Brent Bozell himself, recorded on multiple tracks as the video segment is replayed again and again in the control room. The microphone is a Beyer M-160.


Comments: 53


I love how every single intro to that “show” has the same shot of two girls clapping.

Too lazy to remotely cover up even their own hackery.


Also, I just watched this clip on mute…it’s nice to see that the standard joke structure is still blatant when you can’t hear what’s being said.


It’s like Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Uncomfortable Body Language.


It’s like a giant humor-eating spider sunk its fangs into this and drained all the comedy, leaving only a dried, jokeless husk.


I think the Ted Danson joke was probably the worst. And that’s saying a lot, because there was a plethora of suck to choose from. The pasted-in TV audience is a nice little pitiful cherry on top.


There is no God.

I was wise enough not to watch this last time a clip appeared here why, oh why did I not follow the the teachings of my younger, wiser self?


Which is somewhat better than Dr. Body Language’s House of Uncomfortable 3D Tongues…


Apparently NewsBusters paid $50 each for those jokes! They solicit jokes on the YouTube page and offer $50 for everyone they use in the webcast.


From the Huston link:

Me thinks that the AP’s headline writer revealed his unconscious desires in this goofup.

You thinks, eh?


It’s good to know that they still haven’t been able to figure out the mysteries of how to do a half decent chroma-key.

I wonder how they are with forks.

Five of Diamonds

Watching Larry King read the phonebook would be funnier.

Tim (the Other One)

Next guy/gal to use the phrase “me thinks” should get a pie in the face. Fast and hard.

Five of Diamonds

The jokes are like “Mad Libs.”

Did you hear [Democratic icon] [news item]? (pause) Well, [thinly veiled insult].

Cue laugh track.


Next guy/gal to use the phrase “me thinks” should get a pie in the face.

Let me consider this. What flavour?


Five of Diamonds:

Don’t forget the head nod inbetween. I know I can’t tell if something’s going to be funny unless someone bobs their head at me to indicate their sass.


Me thinks, therefore me are.


Next guy/gal to use the phrase “me thinks” should get a pie in the face. Fast and hard.

What about the actual phrase, methinks?

Tim (the Other One)

Let me consider this. What flavour?

Key Lime and yes D.N., I meant the actual phrase. How do you feel about Key Lime ??


The only thing that was going through my head during the twenty seconds of this that I could bear to sit through was, “Gee, I thought the writer’s strike was over.”


Don’t forget the head nod inbetween. I know I can’t tell if something’s going to be funny unless someone bobs their head at me to indicate their sass.

I think(methinks?) she’s cuing the guy on the laugh track button. You see pianists do that for their page turners all the time, it’s common courtesy.


Such sloppy use of applause track in the intro. I can hear the same recorded guy go “Woo!” twice in a row.

I wonder if the audience were told their recorded voices might be used to feign approval of wingnut hackery? Me thinkeds not.

Tim (the Other One)

Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks if he would like a drink. Descartes responds “I think not” and promptly disappears.

(laugh track AND pie !)


Why is it funny to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s feature section in the Chicago Sun-Times, to counterweight their giving Obama his named section, would be “The Classifieds”?

If I thought there were some vaguely IRS records or Valerie Plame or even Whitewater records, then there might be some hope of an unfunny joke there.

But it seems more likely that the “joke” is that the Sun-Times just didn’t care about Hillary so they said they are going to pretend that one of their Classifieds section which comes out every day is really a special section for Hillary Clinton.

There’s nowhere in that in which a joke is found. I’m starting to agree that these people are confusing humor with anti-humor, but unlike anti-matter when you bring the two together it doesn’t release unprecedented amounts of energy or a fantastically dangerous explosion, but instead releases a small sigh of dumb which then floats around for a second and then diffuses throughout the room, sort of like some other small gaseous releases by animals.


Zeno walks into a bar but will never make it to the punchline.


That’s very good, Righteous Bubba.


…And a pint of hemlock for my friend.


Methinks I would trade it for key lime pie.


Is this what remains of the half-hour news hour thing, or is it some sort of amateur attempt? No way am I going to watch it.

LOLz at the Zeno joke too.


The Alito joke, and accompanying graphic didn’t even make any fucking sense. Italian mob dudes don’t sterotypically look like West Village bears. Just sayin’.


Gimme ten on the West Villiage Bears and the points.

And gimme five on the over under…



NewsBusted serves precisely one (1) useful purpose: it makes me feel better about the World Important News.


Methinks the lady doth smirk at her own jokes too much.


Her timing remains atrocious.


Wait, did someone say these people had a budget? Did it get spent sending some choice bloggers Cheetos and Game Fuel?


If your souls were not immortal, and you in danger of losing them, I would not thus speak unto you; but the love of your souls constrains me to speak: methinks this would constrain me to speak unto you forever.


About “classifieds” joke: I think they meant the help-wanted ads. It was one of the few near-funny moments.

What I like is all the video transitions between “jokes.” Apparently they’re having to constantly stop taping to wipe the boogers off her face.


Tis not for golden eloquence I pray,
A godlike tongue to move a stony heart-
Methinks it were full well to be apart.


Her timing is practically a weapon of mass destruction. I keep waiting for the punchline…and waiting and waiting, and once I’ve decided there isn’t one, then it comes. Amazing how that quarter second can make a mediocre joke just plain toxic.


Stop posting these clips. Stop. I know negative attention is still attention, but stop. just stop. OH PLEASE GOD STOP. I CAN’T FUCKING TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!! JUST STOP



Those clowns in the democrat Congress have done it again. What a bunch of clowns.


Damnit, the laugh track is messing with my reptile mind. I hear the so-called laughter of others and I want to laugh too, but there is nothing funny.


Why do they cut and do a wipe between every joke? I have a movie made at summer camp when I was 15 that has comparable editing techniques.


And the Hillary/deficit joke. Do they even know that Mr. Hillary left us with a surplus?


I think newsbusted watched this:

and misunderstood the thesis.


Anybody who uses the phrase ‘comes in a can’ in a non-humorous setting should be banned from speaking in public for his own protection.


I hear the so-called laughter of others and I want to laugh too, but there is nothing funny.

Perhaps Brent Bozell meant NewsBusters to be statement on the essential futility of the human condition.


A more appropriate tribute to Brent Bozell ; ” War Kittens” :


I think it was Giaocometti who talked Samuel Beckett out of the idea of staging Waiting for Godot with a laugh track.


Wow. That woman combines the smug self-appreciation of a four year old telling the same joke over and over, the awkward, jerky head movements of an inexperienced puppeteer, and the forced, stilted delivery of a spokesmodel for a small-town used-car lot.

Just wow.


So Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass walks into a bar and the bartender asks him if he would like a drink and he says, ‘no thanks, I know my limits’.

too abscure to follow the Zeno joke? (which was killer)


Cut that out, Weierstrass.


Me no think, therefore me am.


(comments are closed)