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The effect of a live studio audience can be imitated or enhanced by the use of a laugh track.

Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. A situational comedy television programme may be recorded in front of a studio audience, depending on the programme’s production format.

Mary Kay and Johnny, aired from 1947 to 1950, was the first sitcom broadcast on a network television in the United States and was the first program to show a couple sharing a bed, and the first series to show a woman's pregnancy on television.

I Love Lucy, which originally ran from 1951 to 1957 on CBS, was the most watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings (an accomplishment later matched only by The Andy Griffith Show in 1968 and Seinfeld in 1998).

Although there have been a number of notable exceptions, Canadian television networks have generally fared poorly with their sitcom offerings, with relatively few Canadian sitcoms attaining notable success in Canada or internationally.

According to television critic Bill Brioux, there are a number of structural reasons for this: the shorter seasons, typical of Canadian television production, make it harder for audiences to connect with a program before its season has concluded, and put even successful shows at risk of losing their audience between seasons because of the longer waiting time before a show returns with new episodes; the more limited marketing budgets available to Canadian television networks mean that audiences are less likely to be aware that the show exists in the first place; and the shows tend to resemble American sitcoms, in the hope of securing a lucrative sale to an American television network, even though by and large the Canadian sitcoms that have been successful have been ones, such as Corner Gas or King of Kensington, that had a more distinctively Canadian flavour.

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