You still hear laugh-tracks on cable TV shows -- especially on-set reality shows looking for some funny stuff, or those Disney Channel teen studio kids shows.
Still, much of this has stopped, shifted a generation ago when TV networks moved to slickly produced one-camera, on-location comedies -- and thus no studio audience, no laughter. Today, there are fewer in-studio three-camera comedies.
Now -- in the wake of COVID-19 -- we are poised to get some “sweetened” visuals -- especially when it comes to sports. We speak of cardboard replacements of fans in stands when it comes to live sports returning soon. The NBA is starting July 31; the NHL and possibly Major League Baseball around the same time.
Some of this is already apparent in European football matches, as well as the KBO -- the Korea Baseball Organization. But it's more of an inside-joke thing for commentators and producing teams.
Take the KBO baseball teams -- which are now transitioning to putting stuffed animals in the stands. (Or sex dolls, according to reports. Wha..?)
Perhaps other kinds of audio might be included: One sports-technology firm is pushing in-stadium crowd noise with participating at-home fans audio -- all to give a more realistic feel to a TV presentation.
Hmmm.. It might be better to have at-home fan tweets displayed on the scoreboard and via big screens in the stands (or on TV), showing players how fans are really feeling. Only appropriately brand-safe constructed comments, of course.
We have already been subjected to late-night and daytime talk shows without sounds and visuals of studio audiences, an aseptic presentation of a once real-time interaction.
Let’s go to the next step. When things get back to normal, we should expand some things for certain TV genres.
We need live, in-studio audiences for all kinds of evening news stories -- general, business, sports, and even the weather. In the past, during WWII, movie theaters would play newsreels to big theater crowds before screening a film.
More studio audiences would diffuse, perhaps democratized, issues TV consumers may be having with many opinion-laden TV newcasts. Audience can lustily boo or cheer Third World uprisings that look to replace autocratic rule.
Maybe even the weather would deserve some response: “Our forecast today is that Hurricane Geraldo is about to hit the Gulf Coast,” a future weathercaster may warn. “Ooooh!” would be the audience's cry.
Who needs old-school social media anyway?