Of course, the risk of not telling someone when to laugh is that they don’t. The  wordy jokes go over their head whilst they wait for someone to go down a hill in a bathtub, or some other primitive joke springs up. These people probably wouldn’t watch Grandma’s House. Well, good. We don’t want you watching this. It’s ours. Something for intelligent people to enjoy before another joy-crushing episode Newsnight starts and we are forced to remember all the things that have gone massively wrong recently.

Grandma’s House rather gloriously sticks its fingers up at those who miss the traditional sitcom. The first episode of the second series saw Simon being offered a part in a new programme. Aunt Liz, a representation of all that is hideous about extended families, asks if it is going to be a proper sitcom. “No, I think it’s going to be a low-key one” he replies. Cue Liz ranting about how awful those comedies are “people just want to laugh!” she chides. The problem being that people like Aunt Liz need to be told when to laugh.

It’s little meta-jokes like this, about either Simon Amstell or the show itself, that the programme does so well. They slot in excellently alongside the more recognisable humour of what it is like to be trapped domestically, a plot both “proper” sitcoms and modern ones do so well. I suppose that brings me to the main point of this post: the absence of the laugh track does not mean there has been some great revolution in sitcom plotlines.  There are still dysfunctional families at the centre, Friday Night Dinner being another example. All that’s happened is we get to choose of we laugh or not.

 

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