I arrived at the topic of sitcoms because they are something that I really enjoy and hope to have my future in. I enjoy watching older sitcoms as well as today’s sitcoms, both with real people actors and animated, to see the changes and how the topics and styles have changed over the years. Some of my important inquiries are: What makes/breaks a sitcom?, why do people laugh at somethings and not at others when it’s the same show/same person making the jokes?, and How do you get a good lesson into a sitcom?. I intend to delve deeper into what sitcoms did really well and had good ratings as well as longer run time and why they were more popular than others. Though its impossible to say why we laugh and all we know is that the brain just tells us when to laugh, I want to figure out why we find certain jokes hilarious and others not so much. Finally, I’m going to bring up sitcoms that have important messages in them while at the same time stay gut busting hilarious and how they do it.

I intend my audience to be people who are also interested in sitcoms, whether it be people who just enjoy watching them, or people who have similar questions as I do. I would assume that their beliefs would be that sitcoms are just created to be funny and make people laugh though some may be very interested in them, like me, and plan on their future being revolved around them. They may have an attitude that sitcoms try too hard and make the easy jokes just to get the laugh or they may think that they take their work very seriously and look up what people are making fun of/laughing at in today’s time in order to make an episode aimed towards it to get the laughs from that. There are a lot of professional writers who think that writing a sitcom is probably one of the hardest pieces to write because you want the audience to laugh but you also don’t want all the laughter to be because of cheesy one liners.

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There are many articles that explain in their own opinions as to why a sitcom does really well or crashes instantly. Though these are all usually just based opinions and people’s personal articles one what they think actually goes into making a sitcom good or why a sitcom was bad, they are still full of information and some of them are done by professional writers who give their professional opinion as to how to write a sitcom to make sure that it comes out well and enjoyed by the audience.

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google images “friends”

         We all have our favorite show, for some of us our favorite is a sitcom. My personal favorite show is Friends. Not only does it tickle my funny bone, but it has a diverse character set up and includes episodes about real life situations and how these characters go about dealing with them. In my own opinion, I believe that what makes a great sitcom is a killer script, great characters that have different personalities, and real life instances and problems as well as good and bad ways of going and solving them. A great website called Popmatters explains as to why some shows get cancelled, using a show called “dads” as an example. They ask questions such as why if a show is animated and has racist or sexist jokes, they are ok, but considered wrong in shows with real people. While I personally believe that using any kind of easy joke to get a quick laugh doesn’t belong in a sitcom with real actors, I do think that if people are going to over look them in animated ones then they shouldn’t be complaining about them when it comes to shows with real actors. In the end though, having sexist and racist jokes will turn away a good amount of viewers in the long run because a lot of people find them to be rude and not funny, it also prevents a younger audience from watching because their parents don’t like the show’s content.

Asking friends and family, I’ve come to notice that older people (about ages late 20’s and up) have a favorite sitcom that involves real people actors. Though, when I asked people closer to my age, as well as kids in early high school or lower, their favorite sitcom was animates, such as Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time (which is aimed towards a kid audience), and The Simpsons. There’s a wide range of what people like and what people find funny, it’s finding the right material that doesn’t cross too many lines (or any at all) and putting it in a situation where a diverse set of characters live their lives together and makes mistakes then try to fix them that makes a sitcom great. Shows like “Friends,” “Full House,” and “Bob’s Burgers,” all have instances where a lesson can be learned.

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In Friends, there are multiple occasions where Ross and Rachel get together and break up because something that the other did and we are constantly yelling at them as to why they messed up. The website Parent.co has a fantastic article that shows some of the best life lessons Friends has to offer, as well as providing some examples from episodes of the show. Not to mention their intro theme song is all about how they’ll be there for their friends because they know their friend will be there for them too .

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Full House has many family lessons, especially for kids, that show how and what to do in situations when you feel left out of the family or you got a bad grade on your report card. The kids, DJ, Steph, and Michelle, always get into some kind of trouble and they usually do the wrong thing to fix it and find out what they should have done in the end. In Bob’s Burgers, even though it is a little unrealistic at times, it still teaches family lessons while being funny and keeping the audiences’ attention. Having a show that puts out positive messages will not only make people want to watch it with their kids, but it will also make it so a more wide variety of people will actually want to watch it. As humans, we want to laugh and we want to fell heart warmed. Having a great show about friends and family where they learn and live together and always have a happy ending keeps the show fun to watch for all ages.

As for why people laugh, well that goes back to our ancestors in the ape community. When we tickle them or do something they find “funny,” rather than laugh they make a sort of panting sound, as said by Robert Provine on NBCnews.com. He talks about how the brain just simply tells us when we want to laugh, how when we’re tickled, asked some kind of question, or simply see something, it triggers out brain to say “that’s funny, now laugh.” Laughter has also proven to be a way to release stress or save ourselves from an awkward situation. I’m sure we’ve all been with a person who makes a rather inappropriate joke that just isn’t funny and makes the situation awkward, so we let out a little chuckle or fake laugh to ease the tension.

Image result for laughter makes you happy

Also, when we’re laughing we just simply feel better. For instance, if you’re feeling down in the dumps and your friend tells you an inside joke to make you laugh, you almost instantly feel better. So perhaps laughter is just a way of keeping people from being sad all the time. Perhaps it’s an evolution we took over to keep us out of awkward situations and to keep us from building up stress and not having a way to release it except through violence. The exact reason why our brain has developed this thing called “laughter” can’t really be answered, but it can most definitely be enjoyed. As to why we laugh at some things, and not others, well that’s another question that can’t really be answered 100% and is more or less answered with speculations. We all have different personalities, different out looks on life, so my own assumption would be that these differences are what takes a part in what our brain finds funny. For instance, if you’re a caring person who’s always making sure people are ok, you probably don’t find videos of people getting injured funny, but, if you’re someone who has been injured before, perhaps even broke a bone before, you may find this being relate able and there fore being funny. Just being with friends and watching shows or stand up comedians I can see differences between what we find funny and i can kind of compare this to each of our personalities. My friend Devin is someone who cares about his friends but doesn’t care about people he doesn’t know. He has a minor case of tourettes, though he has almost complete control over it he does just yell and say explicit words occasionally (which we are ok with because my whole friend group and I pretty much just communicate with loud noises, explicit words, and words we make up on the spot.)

There are also many big studies into the brain and about why humans laugh and what makes them happy. These are more scientific and based on facts, as well as done be professionals. There are articles in forms of blogs, news posts, and even scientific websites. As for how sitcoms put a good message in their episodes and keep it funny, I’m not too sure if there are any great articles or writers who have tackled this subject. It almost impossible o say what’s funny because everyone has a different set of humor, which brings me back to the question as to why people laugh at somethings and not others.

what makes something funny (particularly sitcoms)

news paper article

specific “Friends” episode

science behind laughter

Time: 1990’s-2017

place/event: how sitcoms have good messages yet stay funny


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