I personally don't like to watch shows with laugh tracks, but we do know that a crowd can be "warmed up" to laugh at almost anything, laughter is contagious, and people can thus enjoy the group laughter.
But is there any widely accepted sense inside the TV industry that putting a laugh track on a show is a cheap way to make it funnier? E.g., that it can get away with lower quality writing? That less content is required because there are constant pauses for "audience reaction?" That it demands less skill of actors? Or are laugh-track sitcoms considered equally legitimate forms of the art that can be as demanding as any other comedy?
This might seem a little opinion-based, but I'm looking for widely accepted general opinions from within the TV industry itself or thoroughly backed studies about the general impression those kinds of shows make on the TV industry. But some possible ways to approach this question a little more objectively might be:
- Do sitcoms typically have lower budgets when they have a laugh-track?
- Is the use of a laugh track always pitched along with a sitcom concept, or is it ever added on after the fact to cover up shortcomings? (E.g., "This script isn't very funny." "No worries, we'll add a laugh track!")
- Do/have networks commissioned shows with laugh tracks to retain a viewer demographic that doesn't enjoy a comedy without? (E.g., "We're losing the X demographic. Add more laugh tracks to this season's lineup!")
- Would producers be surprised to hear that a writer or actor rejected a job with a comedy solely based on the show having a laugh track?