TV.com Throwdown, the Results Show: Single-Camera Comedies vs. Multi-Camera Comedies

  • 30comments

Everyone, except for pirates and kids who use BB guns, sees the world through multiple eyes. But television, specifically the genre of comedy, can't seem to decide whether to use one camera or many. Last week we asked you to vote on which format you prefer your comedies to use: single-camera or multi-camera. And though I would like to say that the votes were fairly split, they weren't, and the final tally wasn't much of a surprise. Multi-camera comedies were laugh-tracked out of the competition by a wide margin: 50-17. Some voters took a diplomatic approach, with 27 insisting that it doesn't matter how a comedy is filmed, as long as it's funny. And at least one person has been paying attention throughout the course of this series so far: Supernatural got a single solitary vote.

But now let's see how it looks with a pie chart!



Which comedy format is better: Single-Camera or Multi-Camera?
Single-Cam, 50 votes | Multi-Cam, 17 votes | Doesn't Matter, 27 votes


Studios have valid financial reasons for choosing one format over the other, but for viewers, it's just a matter of taste. Though multi-camera formats have made a comeback in recent years, the majority of TV.com readers who voted still prefer the single-camera format. Also, just an innocent observation: Fans of single-camera comedies seem to be a bit more vocal and aggressive about their opinion. Here are some of the highlights from the comments section:


Taccado laid it out thusly (don't forget to read this in a Finnish accent): "OK, the answer is simple: Single-camera shows are far more superior than multi-camera ones. I don't even have to point out the reasons why, do I? Look at the shows that are getting all the nominations nowadays for best comedy. They are mostly single-camera ones, and that's for a reason. Single-cam ones are smart shows, multi-cam ones are usually not. I really don't understand the appeal that multi-cam shows still have today. There are productional reasons for it, like cheapness. But quality-wise, when it comes to humor, they are far inferior compared to single-cam shows. They are, as you said Tim, 'old-timey.' Single-cam shows are modern and fresh. And what's up with that f*cking laugh track which all multi-cam shows use?"


mariana064 has no need for capital letters and just wants to explore TV's famous domiciles: "multi-camera shows don't have complete sets and that just bugs me. i would like to see the other wall of charlie harper's house or how i met your mother's complete apartment."


DrSpongejr sits alone at lunch and doesn't care: "I'm gonna be the uncool kid and go with multi-cam. All of my favorite '90s sitcoms (Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers' late episodes, and Married...with Children) were all multi-cam. These shows take themselves far less seriously than single-cam shows, and have a far less pretentious attitude about themselves. These shows are about making people laugh, not how many pretentious TV critics will give them an Emmy nomination."


luv70s loves the energy of a crowd: "Unlike most people I don't ever let the laughter of the live audience (yes, LIVE audience, it is NOT a laugh track!) bother me and I have worked on a multi-camera TV show so I enjoy it much more working off the audience's energy than having to find it all from within."


YaninaAyalaHe is way too practical in saying: "Does it actually matter how many cameras or the way they film? A good comedy is about good writing, good actors, and creative stories. The format has nothing to do with it. There are good comedies in both formats. I loved Arrested Development (single-cam), and now I love The Big Bang Theory (multi-cam), and it's because they make me laugh, I like the writing and the actors, not because how many cameras they use."


ben45tpy hates awkward pauses: "Look we know both formats can be funny, as I count Seinfeld, Frasier, and closer to home The Adventures of Lano & Woodley as some of the greatest shows ever. I think that even a laugh track isn't that much of a barrier to something being funny. It only really starts to annoy me when the laugh track starts to cramp the comic timing of the show—when everyone stops in their tracks for a few seconds after a joke or a character entrance so that the laugh track can do its thang. I think there's also a tendency for jokes to be over-stated because they're playing to a live (or canned) audience. These things all break the reality of the situation for me and make the show unfunny. The best multi-cam shows avoid most of these pitfalls..."


killerpuppies blew my mind with this one: "I feel that while most multi cam comedies can be turned into a single-cam comedy, it wouldn't work the other way around. Can you picture Arrested Development as a multi-cam? God no. But you can prolly picture Friends as a single cam (a.k.a. Happy Endings)."


You guys are all way too smart for your own good. We'll be back soon with another Throwdown, so keep hitting refresh on the homepage until your finger falls off!


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Like TV.com on Facebook