I Watched 23 Different Sitcom Pilots To See How Long It Took Me To Laugh

I'd like to think that I've seen a lot of TV shows, but looking at the "TV Comedy" section on streaming services, I realized that is not true. Dare I say...I am uncultured when it comes to sitcoms.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

I've never realized how many sitcoms there are that I never gave a chance, so here are 23 TV sitcom pilots I have never watched a second of before, and how long it took me to laugh:

*NOTE* I'm not going "Try Not to Laugh" hard mode. I am going into this with a "resting Jeremy face" and even if I chuckle, it counts, and I will stop the show. They're comedies, after all. I should laugh within minutes!

1.Frasier (1 minute and 10 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "Frasier" with a Seattle skyline outline

"Comedy series set in Seattle, WA, which chronicles the lives of an eloquently pompous radio show host Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), his brazen radio producer Roz (Peri Gilpin), his competitive, high-brow brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), their crotchety father Martin (John Mahoney) and his quirky live-in nurse Daphne (Jane Leeves)."

Why I laughed: On his radio show, Frasier delivers the quip, "My wife had left me, which was very painful, and then she came back to me, which was excruciating."

It was a simple but effective joke with A+ deadpan delivery. It's a shame because I didn't even really get a feel for what the show was about or if it was funny beyond the one joke.

CBS Television Distribution

2.Malcolm in the Middle (1 minute and 14 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "Malcolm in the Middle" with the character peeking through his covered eyes

"The Cleavers they ain't. Mom is a screaming control freak, Dad is a goofy human hairball, oldest son Francis escaped the family at a young age, Reese is just a criminal, Dewey is a space cadet and young Jamie is the scapegoat. The middle kid, Malcolm (who delivers the narrative for the capers of this whacked-out clan) is a brainiac who doesn't want to be burdened by his genius."

Why I laughed: Bryan Cranston's character is having his back shaved while he reads a newspaper and the camera cuts to a wide shot to reveal all this is happening while he was naked in the middle of the kitchen.

As far as visual humor, this one got a genuine laugh. The show itself seemed interesting from the small bit I saw. A stereotypical family sitcom, but my type of humor.

20th Television

3.Arrested Development (1 minute and 25 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "Arrested Development"

"In this critically acclaimed series, Michael Bluth is forced to help his wildly eccentric family pick up the pieces after its wealthy patriarch is arrested and its assets were frozen."

Why I laughed: When asked about a magic trick, "It's an illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money." Four kids watch on with their mouths agape.

Seemed like mostly dry humor, so that's my cup of tea. I had no clue what the concept was for this show either, but it sounds pretty funny.

20th Television

4.The Office (2 minutes and 13 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "The Office"

This hit comedy chronicles the foibles of disgruntled office workers, led by deluded boss Michael Scott, at the Dunder Mifflin paper company.

Why I laughed: Michael says, "If you think she was cute now, you should have seen her five years ago." And Pam replies, "What?" [Then Michael proceeds to change the subject]

Not totally surprised that I laughed early. I've always found Steve Carrell funny in other comedies, so it checks out. Seems very quick-witted with a pinch of immaturity, which is usually a successful balance for comedy.


5.The Goldbergs (3 minutes and 7 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "The Goldbergs" shows family photo on a VHS tape

"The Goldbergs are a loving family like any other, just with a lot more yelling, but for geeky 11-year-old Adam these were his wonder years and he faced them armed with a video camera to capture all the crazy."

Why I laughed: The mother getting emotional after giving her son a locket necklace as a gift, with her and him as the photo inside.

Very-well acted and received a very real, hearty laugh. I can see why this show was popular in the very nostalgic times we live in today.

Sony Pictures Television

6.Everybody Hates Chris (3 minutes and 27 seconds to laugh)

Title card of "Everybody hates Chris" with young Chris next to a boombox

"Inspired by his childhood experiences, comedian Chris Rock narrates the hilarious, touching story of a teenager growing up as the eldest of three children in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1980s."

Why I laughed: Terry Crews' character delivered the line, "If you smell smoke and your brother catches fire, get your sister and get out of here."

After making this post, I feel like this is one of the few shows I'd actually watch. I liked the style and all the characters seemed pretty funny.

CBS Television Distribution

7.Scrubs (3 minutes and 50 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "Scrubs" with an X-Ray of ribs

"ABC’s Scrubs examines the lives of the staff at Sacred Heart. In this unpredictable hospital filled with over-the-top staffers and patients, doctors have learned to survive by relying on each other to face relationships, death, kids, interns, water balloons, and anything else life may throw at them. Around here, humor and tragedy collide as they continually learn that even when you figure out who you are, there’s still more life to navigate and it helps to have good people in your corner…even if they are a bit scattered themselves."

Why I laughed: The main character pouring hot coffee on himself while running in a dream sequence.

I had no idea how old this show was, so it was weird seeing all the characters super young. A good visual gag will always get me, so I imagine the dream sequences are filled with those.

Disney–ABC Domestic Television

8.Cheers (3 minutes and 57 seconds to laugh)

"Cheers" title card

"Top-rated, 28-time Emmy-winning half-hour comedy series centering on the colorful characters who frequent a Boston bar owned by a former Red Sox pitcher."

Why I laughed: Sam, with his mouth full, backing away from the phone after Diane said Vickie was calling him.

It was the cheapest laugh of this whole list, but it still counts. Cheers seemed like a lovely show and not too dated for my taste. That's the struggle of this list, though...I only watched, like, four minutes!


9.Parks & Recreation (4 minutes and 3 seconds to laugh)

"Parks and Recreation" title card

"In this Emmy-nominated comedy, an employee with a rural Parks and Recreation department is full of energy and ideas but bogged down by bureaucracy."

Why I laughed: Amy's line, "What I hear when I'm...being yelled at...is people caring loudly at me."

Amy Poehler is very funny, so I imagine the show is solid. The cast seems LOADED from what I saw in the intro, but I didn't even really get to see anyone else.

NBCUniversal Television Distribution

10.30 Rock (4 minutes and 16 seconds to laugh)

Title card for "30 Rock"

"A brash network executive bullies head writer Liz Lemon into hiring an unstable movie star."

Why I laughed: Tina Fey asks, "Where's Gary?" and Alec Baldwin walks over and says "Gary's dead..." [proceeds to introduce himself].

Now, that's an entrance. It got a hardy laugh from me. The premise seems very meh to me, but Tina Fey is hilarious, so I imagine it worked well enough, because a lot of people think this is the GOAT of sitcoms.


11.Good Times (4 minutes and 27 seconds to laugh)

"Good Times" title card

"Members of a poor but proud African American family try to rise above their problems in 1970s Chicago."

Why I laughed: A quick "thank you, Jesus" from the son, instead of reciting a whole prayer at the dinner table.

This was definitely that "old school" humor. Not dated. Just very old school. The cast seemed strong, but I have no clue what the story was going to be. Assuming it was a typical family sitcom.

Sony Pictures Television

12.King of the Hill (4 minutes and 28 seconds to laugh)

"King of the Hill" title card

"King of the Hill depicts the life and times of Hank Hill (Mike Judge), his family, and their neighbors in the fictional suburb of Arlen, Texas, the heartland of America. A hard-working, loyal family man and proud Texan, Hank is the assistant manager of Strickland Propane. He's a blue-collar Everyman who sees himself as the voice of common sense and reason in a world of incompetent sales clerks, meddling bureaucrats, and do-good liberals."

Why I laughed: The father saying, "Just do your best," and then cutting the game where he is pressed against the batting cage yelling, "Swing, Bobby! Swing! Swing!"

The animation is jarring because, like other shows on here, I had no idea how old it was. I didn't like it as much as some other shows, but it seemed like my type of dry humor, so who knows!

20th Television

13.Taxi (5 minutes and 46 seconds to laugh)

TV show "Taxi" title card

"TAXI is a half-hour comedy series that centers around the eclectic staff of a New York city cab company. While trying to deal with tyrannical dispatcher, Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito), they build friendships as they struggle for success in other careers, love, and life."

Why I laughed: While on the phone with the secretary of Laurence Olivier, a star-struck Bobby places the phone between his jaw and shoulder and proceeds to give a standing ovation on the phone.

For some reason, this made me laugh the hardest. It was very well acted and the execution was hilarious.

UPDATE: This is the only show I actually went back and watched the entire first episode. It's a weirdly sweet and wholesome show that is my type of humor.

Paramount Domestic Television

14.George Lopez (6 minutes and 9 seconds)

George Lopez peeks from the bottom of the screen with "George Lopez" title card behind him

"Watch George Lopez, a comedy about family man George who is a devoted husband and father but his insensitive mother makes things difficult."

Why I laughed: George Lopez's mother clocking in for multiple people at work as George watches on in disbelief.

I was really concerned because I thought the cold opening was...cold. That being said, it was a funny concept and picked up by the time I laughed.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

15.Will & Grace (6 minutes & 14 seconds)

"Will & Grace" title card

"Will and Grace are best friends and roommates. With pals Karen and Jack, it's all fair game for this outspoken foursome, from sex and dating to cutting cultural commentary."

Why I laughed: A southern man trying "due diligence."

Very funny, but not too many laugh-out-loud moments, but I liked this show more than some of the shows above. Something can be funny without laughing out loud.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

16.It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (6 minutes and 16 seconds)

The words "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia"

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia features Mac, Dennis, Charlie, Sweet Dee, and Frank, five ne’er-do-wells who own and operate Paddy’s Pub in Philadelphia. Their constant scheming usually lands them in a world of hurt, yet they never seem to learn from their mistakes. As they say, some things never change. So prepare for more depraved schemes, half-baked arguments, and absurdly underhanded plots to subvert one another."

Why I laughed: One character delivering a breathy, awkward "absolutely" in an attempt to make Black friends.

I did not think my list would involve me listening to Charlie Day drop the N-Word, but here we are. The edgy-type of humor has never appealed to me, but the awkward tones of the show were pretty funny. I imagine the show gets better as the seasons go along.

20th Television

17.How I Met Your Mother (6 minutes and 26 seconds)

"How I Met Your Mother" title card

"A half-hour comedy series about Ted and how he fell in love. It all started when Ted’s best friend, Marshall, drops the bombshell that he’s going to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Lily, a kindergarten teacher. At that moment, Ted realizes that he had better get a move on if he hopes to find true love, too."

Why I laughed: Neil Patrick Harris saying, "You know she likes it dirty" after his friend says something touching about a woman and completely kills the moment.

This list is kind of becoming a "who's who" of my comedy. Although the show took a while for a laugh, it still seemed like a pretty funny concept.

20th Television

18.Two & Half Men (8 minutes and 4 seconds to laugh)

A boy and two men sing into a microphone with the title card "Two and a half Men"

"When Charlie learns that a former girlfriend is getting married, he desperately tries to prove to her that he's a better family man than her fiancé."

Why I laughed: A second cut-back to the son smiling at Charlie Sheen's character, who seems disgusted.

Of all the shows, this one was pretty close to the bottom for me. Just not my type of humor, but the beats were there as far as a successful sitcom. This show lasted TWELVE seasons, so they were doing something right.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

19.Friends (7 minutes and 4 seconds)

Title card of "Friends" shows a couch in front of a fountain at night

"This hit sitcom follows the merry misadventures of six 20-something pals as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life, and love in 1990s Manhattan."

Why I laughed: Phoebe singing "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.

The time it took me to laugh does not do this show justice. I found it pretty funny, it just took me a while to laugh out loud. I've always been a Seinfeld guy, so I expected not to like this, but it seemed very funny and wholesome.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

20.Community (11 minutes and 25 seconds)

"Community" written with a blue pen

"When his bogus law degree is exposed, Jeff Winger goes back to college and forms a study group of outcasts."

Why I laughed: Chevy Chase's character introduces himself to Joel McHale with a handshake, making Joel McHale lean over all the way across the long table, only to move it away while he's rambling.

Some classic Chevy Chase visual comedy always does the trick. Three Amigos is one of my favorite comedies, so I knew his presence would make me crack. The show itself seemed like the most creative concept for getting an unlikely group of friends together.

Sony Pictures Television

21.The Big Bang Theory (11 minutes and 33 seconds)

"The Big Bang Theory" title card

"Brilliant physicist roommates Leonard and Sheldon meet their new neighbor Penny, who begins showing them that as much as they know about science, they know little about actual living."

Why I laughed: Sheldon shocked and asking Penny, "It took you four years to finish high school?"

The comedy was a bit of a dud for me, but I see the potential. Like other shows on here, it had a good "sitcom pace," but the jokes seemed a little forced at times.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

22.M*A*S*H (20 minutes and 50 seconds)

A helicopter with the word "MASH" over it

"A fast-paced and fun-filled series relating the antics of a mobile army surgical hospital crew during the Korean war. They are basically dedicated surgeons who turn to humor as relief from the front-line operating room."

Why I laughed: Alan Alda's character saying a "prayer come true" for the reverend was a simple, but funny quip.

The show is truly a time capsule that is a brilliant idea. Maybe the most influential show ever. That being said, not a ton of hard laughs. A racial slur, vulgar humor, and sedating a fellow colleague were a lot to pack in for the first episode. It squeezed a laugh out of me right at the end, so that's something, and it was paced more like a funny drama than a sitcom, so I give it a pass.

20th Television

23.Last Man Standing (I didn't laugh)

"Last Man Standing" title card

"The series stars Tim Allen as Mike Baxter, a happily married father of three daughters, who tries to maintain his manliness in a home surrounded by women."

I felt really bad about this one because I liked Home Improvement growing up, but here we go:

Have you ever asked yourself: How manly is Tim Allen? Well, this show will give you that answer more times than the show lands a clever joke. When his character isn't scared of his grandkid hanging out with two dads at a daycare building a pillow mosque (you know, that totally real and relatable thing we all go through) or jokingly threatening one of his workers with a crossbow to defend his daughter's honor because this man has such massive balls, the show is legitimately lacking humor, jokes, punchlines or any substance that makes sitcoms funny.

20th Television

I think of Seinfeld: "And this offends you as a Jewish person?" "No, it offends me as a comedian." As a man just looking for a laugh watching all of these sitcoms, I was left in awe and almost insulted by the lack of creativity. So many shows have tackled families with different world views (in a hilarious and realistic way, mind you), but this show felt like it was auto-written by an Internet user.

Fox / Via media.giphy.com

Tim Allen's character made zero sense. He didn't perceive the world a certain way like other famous "angry-at-the-world" dad TV characters, this show's world was his perception. Everything was molded by him rather than him reacting to the real world. The show itself wasn't grounded in reality like so many other famous sitcoms, which is why none of the jokes landed. It's like angry Dad fan-fic with as much humor as a believable supporting cast.

I pity Tim Allen after watching this. Ten minutes into the episode, I had wondered if he had ever spoken to women outside of his family, but by the end, I was seriously left questioning if he had ever spoken to men before either. Seriously, all of the guys I've spoken to in my life (various ages, backgrounds, and beliefs) none have had such a weird way of presenting themselves and speaking about men or manliness. It's almost like he was an alien in a button-up trying to pass as a manly man dad person human.

Fox / Via media.giphy.com

I seriously worry that if I had kept watching beyond the pilot, I'd still be watching it. I could write a whole post about this, but everything about this show missed the mark for me. I'm sure it gets better once the show finds its legs, else it wouldn't have had nine seasons, right? But as far as pilots go, it might be the worst TV show pilot I have ever watched.

Is there a sitcom you have never watched a second of before? Is there one you've watched and never missed an episode? Comment below!