So sitcoms, we’ve all seen them. They’re funny, they make you want to fall to the floor laughing and sometimes they teach valuable lessons in life through comedy. Most sitcoms on TV today have one thing in common – they are popular. Millions of TV viewers turn in everyday to try and not miss the newest episode. Why do sitcoms become popular? What factors contribute to the success of the comedy?
I have hypothesized an interesting (or maybe I should let you decide the right adjective) theory to help explain their success as a comedy. First off, I’ll start by talking about how sitcom writers are possibly playing around with your subconscious minds to make you think their show characters are funny – when they’re actually not.
Setting the screenplay: I’ve noticed a rather interesting pattern. The writers often set the preceding storyline to complement the element of humor that follows.
Now this is more of an anamoly,
Inconsistencies with character personality: I couldn’t help but notice how the writers sometimes overlook a fundamental consistency to human character i.e., personality. Let’s take Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, someone who is portrayed as a germaphobe. He would not eat in a perfectly good restaurant but will willingly eat off Penny’s cutlery, from someone’s cookware whose personal hygiene he highly doubts. Again he is reluctant to shaking hands but is rather astonishingly, perfectly fine with fiddling around arcade games – something that is likely to have a richer microbiology.
Laughter theory: Rowan Atkinson, the famous comedian who we more comfortably know as Mr. Bean once said that for something to be funny, something or someone must be in the wrong place and/or at the wrong time. I quite agree with this notion.
Last but for very obvious reasons, not the least,
Laugh tracks: There is an interesting fan-made video online where the laugh tracks that play in the background have been edited out from an episode of the Big Bang Theory. The result – it was nothing but drama. In fact, I briefly considered if it actually was the show I knew all too well to be spectacularly hilarious. I can only speculate one possible reason why laugh tracks makes us want to laugh and that is social conformity. Our hard-wired and compulsive need to confirm with our peer groups have made us slave to this trickery. We naturally throw out a giggle when we hear others around us laugh irrespective of whether we understand the joke.