Tim Heidecker is onto something.
The comedian--if you don't know Tim & Eric, ask someone in skinny jeans--tweeted a challenge to his fans: "Someone," Heidecker posted, "please remove the laugh track from a chunk of The Big Bang Theory and send link to me."
Heidecker had a neutered Bang clip within an hour, YouTube soon after. With awkward pauses where the chuckles should be (a pretty fair description of the Tim & Eric Show, I'd say), the double entendres just seemed creepy. Not funny. Like Carson Daly not funny.
A fair trick? Well, imagine a "stifle yourself" met with nothing but Edith's heartbroken gaze, or a "yada, yada, yada" followed by an anxious pause. TV Land meets Harold Pinter. A laugh track can be a crutch for lazy writers, but it's also a rhythmic tool. An ingredient in a comic recipe, the industry equivalent of the beat Woody Allen takes to clear his throat before hitting the punchline. Lose the beat, lose the laugh.
But the bangless Bang got me thinking. What if I zapped other ingredients, other recipes? What if I mentally heideckered mood-setting music? And could Katie Couric be Heideckered from her own show?
I started simple, with MTV's Celebrity Rehab. That sappy soap music underscoring the rehab reunion of Heidi Fleiss and Tom Sizemore? Gone. Heideckered. Think a quiet Big Bang is unsettling? Try a contrived TV get-together between a convicted batterer and his battered. Dr. Drew's Step 13: Hug your bruiser. No wonder it needs a musical sweetener.
Next stop: TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras. This reality series about child beauty pageants trots out one little girl after another (and the occasional boy), some as young as 18 months, with wigs and make-up better left to lip-syncing contests in Cherry Grove.
Still, the jaunty music--the kind you might remember from those dowdy-to-gaudy room transformations on Trading Spaces--assures us T&T is all in good fun. Somebody should tell the jittery four-year-old who flinches each time the spray tan gets too close to her eyes.
Maybe best to keep the music going on this one. But once you get started...
Whoa, did CNN's Jessica Yellin really just describe a Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts as "tectonic?" Best to heidecker the word out of her report. Was CBS really turning Katie Couric's spotlight moment with an injured Haitian boy into a maudlin, self-serving promo? Must every field reporter on TV these days wear a tight black t-shirt, even without Coop's pythons to fill 'em out? Not in my mind.
And did Glenn Beck really just skip over Haiti to rehash Obama's long-ago decision to switch from Barry to Barack?
Well, some things you just can't wish away. Try as you might.