Key & Peele director was ready to quit rather than put laugh track on show

Comedy folks hate laugh tracks. Yet every highly rated (I'm talking Nielsen ratings, not indie cred) comedy throughout history has had a laugh track. (Remember how Chappelle show had Dave introducing sketches and playing 'em in front of a crowd?)

But maybe the spread of YouTube videos and shows like The Office & Curb are a sign of the laugh track's decline? Peter Atencio, the director of Key & Peele, discusses the big push from Comedy Central to begin using audience laughs over the show's sketches.

Finally, about a week before we went to air, and the night before our final sound mix on episode 201, they relented. I can’t say what exactly changed their minds, but I suspect it was mostly the collective passion on the subject from the creative team. While we were certainly not unanimous in how much we were opposed to the choice (I was ready to quit entirely, others were more willing to just make the network happy), we all agreed that is was not going to feel like the same show we had aired the first season...

for me, it was a lesson in standing up for what you feel is creatively the right decision. Would the show be getting better ratings with laughs on the sketches? Perhaps. But it would no longer have been the same show for me personally, and I would not have returned for our third season, which we’re currently in pre-production on.


Related: Louis C.K. and the Rise of the Laptop Loners ("Not only does Louie's audience not know when to laugh, they don't even know if what they're watching is supposed to be funny.")

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