'Canned laughter' doesn't exist, so why do critics keep complaining about it?

Count Arthur Strong has been criticised for using so-called canned laughter, but what does that actually mean? Graham Linehan and Steve Coogan explain the 'studio sitcom'

A critic at the Independent derided an early episode of Count Arthur Strong, which concludes tonight, saying: "Good radio comedy could not have sounded less funny on television, nor canned laughter more ironic." The Mail said its "only weakness" was "the overused canned laughter". Digital Spy described Ben Elton's axed The Wright Way as "an old-fashioned canned-laughter BBC sitcom"; Time Out called the "canned laughter" on ITV's camp two-hander Vicious "redundant".

My generation grew up during the three-channel 1970s "golden age" of British TV comedy, when every sitcom had audience laughter and a grateful nation chortled along. Even 1980s new wave landmarks The Young Ones and Blackadder were accompanied by studio guffaws. But the rise of more esoteric "single-camera" shows – from The Comic
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