I’m the kind of person that enjoys a good laugh. Whether it’s that YouTube video of a hamster eating popcorn on a piano or a late night talk show, I love to laugh at things I think are funny. Recently though, I’ve had to reevaluate why I think things are funny in the first place and it’s all because of that guy from The Hangover.
Zach Galifianakis hosted Saturday Night Live on Sunday. I am a SNL junkie and this episode disappointed me more than any I think I’ve ever seen. The jokes landed flat, the sketches left me scratching my head, and there were multiple flubs and technical difficulties.
Now, almost anybody you talk to will have their opinion of when SNL was “best.” Some say it was the original cast, others say the 80’s cast, and some say the 90’s. I love today’s SNL because that’s what I know best. People also have their favorite cast members. In my opinion, current member Kristen Wiig is the best there is, and the writers know it. She appeared in almost every sketch this past week. It proved to be too much of a good thing. They need to use their newer cast members, like Jay Pharoah, more often. Maybe that would liven things up a bit.
After the lackluster episode I took to the Twitterverse to vent my frustration. I noticed others that felt the same way but one person in particular really got me thinking. He said something along the lines of: “The studio audience was really dead tonight.” Maybe they were just as bored as I was…or was I?
The reason that TV shows have a live audience is so that people watching at home will know when to laugh. Studio audiences are prompted to laugh in all the right places for taped shows, but nobody can force an audience to laugh when the show is live. Maybe Saturday’s audience was cranky or tired, but for whatever reason they weren’t laughing much. Could this mean that I wasn’t laughing because the audience wasn’t laughing? I’d like to think that I only laugh when I actually think things are funny but I know that’s not the case. With SNL, I’ve found myself chuckling and then wondering, “Why am I laughing?” The same goes with talk shows like Conan or The Tonight Show. The live audiences can be seriously effective.
This is the reason that I love going to movies the weekend they open. I always enjoy movies more when the theater is full with other people laughing and reacting. It makes me feel justified in my enjoyment of the film.
It’s not like I’m not capable of laughing if there isn’t somebody prodding me along. My favorite comedy right now is The Office which has no audience and no laugh track. However, my favorite comedy of all-time is Friends which does have an audience and probably a laugh track.
I don’t know if I should be concerned about my realization that I may not actually think what I’m laughing at is funny. I’ll just have pay better attention to what the jokes are. Then again if I do that, I may lose a lot of my favorite shows. Maybe I’ll just stick to cat videos on YouTube. Those are always funny.