‘Young Sheldon’: Why There’s No Laugh Track for CBS Comedy

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Young Sheldon laugh track, Young Sheldon CBSPhoto: Robert Voets/CBS

Iain Armitage as Young Sheldon.

When you tune in tonight to catch the first episode of Young Sheldon, the first thing you should notice is that there is no laugh track. That’s very different from the style of The Big Bang Theory, the long-running show that introduced the beloved Sheldon Cooper. But co-creator Chuck Lorre tried something different for the sitcom.

Although he’s been in the business since the mid-1980s, Lorre has never worked on a single-camera sitcom. The “single-cam” format means that the show is shot and edited like a drama or movie, with no studio audience or laugh track. By comparison, Lorre’s Two And a Half Men, Mom and The Big Bang Theory are all “multi-cam” shows. This means that there are multiple cameras filming the show in front of an audience and it’s presented with a laugh track.

In an interview with reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in August, Lorre said he and the other writers decided the single-cam format fit this show perfectly.

“It’s more intimate; the pacing is very different,” Lorre explained. “We knew going in we’d be working with a cast of young children and that seemed more appropriate for them to do their best work. We wanted to give them an opportunity to work in a closed setting where they have the time to develop these characters.”

Lorre admitted he was a “nervous wreck” while working in the single-cam format for the first time.

The single-cam format for sitcoms has been an option for decades, but only recently became in vogue for American network sitcoms after NBC stuck gold with The Office and 30 Rock. ABC and Fox followed suit with their own successful single-cam shows, like Modern Family and New Girl. CBS has notably struggled to find success with the format, but this season could change things. Both Young Sheldon and Me, Myself & I are single-cam shows.

Young Sheldon was created by Lorre with Big Bang writer Steve Molaro. Jim Parsons is an executive producer and narrator, while Iain Armitage plays Sheldon at nine years old. Zoe Perry co-stars as his mother. The show debuts at 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday, September 25.