The Big Bang Theory but the studio audience is replaced by Ricky Gervais

The awkward, creeping humorlessness of The Big Bang Theory (and perhaps all studio sitcoms) is famously revealed by removing the audience laughter. But it is made truly unsettling by replacement with Ricky Gervais.

BONUS: The Big Bang theory with the laugh track replaced by children screaming:

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  1. The screaming version made it almost bearable. Almost.

  2. Best characterization I've heard between BBT and The IT Crowd is laughing at vs. laughing with the main characters. Loathe the former, love the latter.

  3. Peter Chakos, the editor of TBBT, also edited every episode of Will & Grace, as well as its gag reels. One of the things he would sometimes do in the gag reels would be to take a short, very serious section of a dramatic scene (Will finding out his father just died, or something), and putting one of the season's most rollicking laughs behind it. Or taking a funny exchange and replacing the audience laughs with crickets. The dissonance was both amusing and illuminating.

    FWIW, when TBBT does work, a whole lot of credit goes to Chakos. His work is thoughtful and even musical. I just wish he were given better material these days.

  4. I'm not a fan, but my wife watches it constantly and I'm surprised by some of the character arcs. Penny starts out as an aspiring actress, then "grows up" to become a pharmaceutical rep, and so far the show has never acknowledged just how evil a profession that is. Likewise the male leads are all working on a device for the military, having gotten over their qualms about doing so as soon as they realized the money involved. The writers seem to equate maturity with selling out your principles.

    Also, it's not funny.

  5. In the right hands, this setup would make for an incredible (and incredibly sobering) series finale. Think about it. Sixty minutes, cold open, all the credits and acknowledgements rolled at the beginning (you'll see why in a second), no commercial breaks, and no laugh track--just a battery of brutal portraits of each character imprisoned in their existential and moral self-dread. And then everything cuts to black.

    ETA: Official finale episode title: 'Heat Death'.

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