Funny the things we accept as being such an integral component of normality. Take for example the laugh track. Junior recently saw some old episodes of 'Bewitched'. I was a little surprised at his reactions, first because he thought the 40 year old gags were riotously funny, but secondly by his surprise at hearing the laugh track. It hadn't occurred to me until then that he'd never before heard a laugh track during his 5 years in this world ("Daddy the tv is laughing.").
Seems like shows from the 70's had really loud (and abruptly cut off) laugh tracks. Modern shows still use laugh tracks, but sitcoms are again being recorded in front of live audiences for their laughter. You can frequently tell the difference between canned and live laughter - one thing that tips it off for me is studios plant people in their audiences to laugh (there's probably a name for this, but I don't know what it is off hand). They usually can be heard as the first loud guffaws that start a fraction of a second before everyone else starts laughing.
Do you feel insulted by the presence of a laugh track (how funny can it be if they need to tell you when to laugh?)? Ever notice how Canadian tv seldom relies on laugh tracks? Anyone ever watch tv shows while in Europe or South America or know if they use laugh tracks there? I'm guessing most of our experiences with foreign tv is limited to the BBC shows seen on PBS?