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What Is the Funniest Sitcom?

Humor is subjective, so everyone might have their own opinion on which sitcom is the funniest.
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  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
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The situation comedy genre has been a staple of American television viewing nearly as long as televisions themselves have been in existence. Although many like to think that television has come a very long way since its first waves of popularity, the truth is that some things really haven't changed. The longevity of the sitcom as a genre speaks volumes about its adaptability and appeal. While these characteristics are interesting from a historical perspective, the question we're all asking is: Which one should I watch?

Well, although we here at wiseGEEK can't know your personal preferences, and many of the lesser-known sitcoms are no longer available in reruns, we decided we'd do some research and develop a strategy for answering this very important question.

wiseGEEK chose 18 sitcoms for our analysis, based on a combination of two factors: Availability in reruns and popularity of series in its first run. You may notice that some of the shows we looked at are not from a particularly popular series, but what they lack in popularity, they make up for in rerun availability.

Our data collection process was simple: Each sitcom was analyzed for the number of laughs over the 30-minute time slot, as well as the Laugh Intensity for each occurrence. Laugh Intensity (LI) ratings are based on a 4-point scale; snickers, giggles, or chuckles ranking a 1, and knee-slapping, tear-wiping, wake-up-your-roommate guffaws ranking a 4.

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Series Title TLV: Total Laugh Volume
Friends 185
8 Simple Rules... 161
I Love Lucy 157
The Parkers 150
All in the Family 149
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 145
The Cosby Show 144
Seinfeld 144
Happy Days 140
The Brady Bunch 124
Leave it to Beaver 116
Frasier 114
Golden Girls 114
How I Met Your Mother 114
Sanford & Son 110
Family Ties 107
The Andy Griffith Show 67
M*A*S*H 56

These scores are the sum of the collected data. We simply added up the Laugh Intensity scores for all recorded laughter to determine which shows had the most (and least) amount of laughter, and call that the Total Laugh Volume (TLV).

Series Title LpM: Laughs per Minute
Friends 10.14
The Parkers 8.11
8 Simple Rules... 7.67
All in the Family 7.27
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 7.25
I Love Lucy 7.22
The Cosby Show 7.11
Happy Days 7.09
Seinfeld 6.94
The Brady Bunch 6.05
Frasier 5.63
Golden Girls 5.43
Sanford & Son 5.37
Leave it to Beaver 5.27
How I Met Your Mother 5.12
Family Ties 5.10
The Andy Griffith Show 3.19
M*A*S*H 2.70

Each show's Laugh per Minute (LpM) score was determined by taking the TLV and dividing it by the total number of minutes of show time. We carefully subtracted time wasted on credits and commercials in order to avoid punishing sitcoms rerunning on networks that show too many commercials.

Series Title LII: Laugh Intensity Index
All in the Family 1.67
Friends 1.61
Frasier 1.54
Leave it to Beaver 1.45
Sanford & Son 1.39
Golden Girls 1.37
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 1.37
Happy Days 1.36
8 Simple Rules... 1.33
I Love Lucy 1.30
The Andy Griffith Show 1.22
The Cosby Show 1.20
Family Ties 1.19
The Brady Bunch 1.17
M*A*S*H 1.17
How I Met Your Mother 1.11
The Parkers 1.10
Seinfeld 1.10

The Laugh Intensity Index (LII) takes the TLV score, and divides it by the number of laughs recorded for the show. In this way, we can determine which shows have a higher Laugh Intensity per laugh than other shows. Where some shows rate high on the previous two measures, repeated chuckles will not help you in this analysis. For the shows topping the Laugh Intensity Index, if you're laughing, it's probably more than just responding to the peer pressure of the laugh track.

Series Title TLV=Blue, LII=Yellow
8 Simple Rules... 161
8 Simple Rules... 1.33
All in the Family 149
All in the Family 1.67
Family Ties 107
Family Ties 1.19
Frasier 114
Frasier 1.54
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 145
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 1.37
Friends 185
Friends 1.61
Golden Girls 114
Golden Girls 1.37
Happy Days 140
Happy Days 1.36
How I Met Your Mother 185
How I Met Your Mother 1.11
I Love Lucy 255
I Love Lucy 1.30
Leave it to Beaver 188
Leave it to Beaver 1.45
M*A*S*H 91
M*A*S*H 1.17
Sanford & Son 110
Sanford & Son 1.39
Seinfeld 144
Seinfeld 1.10
The Andy Griffith Show 67
The Andy Griffith Show 1.22
The Brady Bunch 124
The Brady Bunch 1.17
The Cosby Show 144
The Cosby Show 1.20
The Parkers 150
The Parkers 1.10

The chart above is designed to compare the Total Laugh Volume and the Laugh Intensity Index for each show. We created this comparison by assigning the top performer in each category the same bar size; shows with longer blue bars have more laugher, while shows with longer yellow bars have more intense laughter. We won't judge you for which you prefer, we just want you to be able to make an informed decision.

A Few Necessary Disclaimers

Candidates for wiseGEEK's Funniest Sitcom

Series Title Show Title Original Air Date
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter "Changes" 10/1/04
All in the Family "Mike's Friend" 12/14/74
Family Ties "Big Brother is Watching" 11/17/82
Frasier "And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon, Part II" 10/24/00
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air "Something for Nothing" 12/9/91
Friends "The One After the Superbowl, Part II" 1/28/96
Golden Girls "Wham, Bam, Thank You Mammy" 10/20/90
Happy Days "They Call it Potsie Love" 12/2/75
How I Met Your Mother "The Wedding" 1/9/06
I Love Lucy "The Girls Go Into Business" 10/12/53
Leave it to Beaver "Train Trip" 4/9/58
M*A*S*H "The Kids" 10/31/75
Sanford & Son "The Way to Lamont's Heart" 3/15/74
Seinfeld "The Engagement" 9/21/95
The Andy Griffith Show "Goober's Contest" 4/10/67
The Brady Bunch "Cindy Brady, Lady" 2/18/72
The Cosby Show "Clair's Case" 2/21/85
The Parkers "Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow" 11/13/00
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Logicfest
Post 1

An absolute joy to read. However, "Friends?" One could see funnier things than "Friends" -- any episode of "Friends" -- while driving to work in the morning.

Regardless, love the analysis, the methodology and even the explanations of how things were measured and why was a hoot.

And the episode of "Andy Griffith" used for the comparison totally rules.

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