LOS ANGELES. The International Brotherhood of Fake Laugh Artists began a strike that stopped production of all sitcoms and caused the stock market to plunge.
The fake laugh artists contract expired at midnight two weeks ago and the union’s members voted yesterday to begin an immediate strike. The key issue is residuals for reruns. Union members, who provide the fake laughs that are an integral part of every sitcom, seek pay equal to that of the major actors in the sitcoms.
Reacting to the strike, all sitcoms ceased production and the world stock market retreated an average of 20%. Criminologists in the United States and Bangladesh have expressed concerns that the lack of sitcoms on nightly television could result in a substantial increase in crime and may even boost the birth rate as people no longer want to watch television for several hours every night.
Union officials said the strike was long overdo. “The truth is,” said union president Fay Anderson, “that the actors who perform the fake laughs for sitcoms are every bit as talented as the actors who recite the lines in front of the cameras. We are the ones who make the sitcoms funny and worth watching.”
“Without us,” continued Anderson, “the jokes and sketches on sitcoms would not be the least bit hilarious.” “Plus,” she said, “how would people even know that they had been told a joke or pun or seen something really funny without our talented union members?”
Speaking for the Association of Sitcom Producers, Gerald Pitler disagreed. “I admit that the actors who provide fake laughs are very talented and skilled, but I do think they should be paid the same as the principal actors on the sitcoms. Are they actually saying that someone who does fake laughter for the Seinfeld program should be compensated the same as Jerry Seinfeld?”
Because of the national impact of the strike, President Bush has offered the services of federal mediators to resolve it. At his weekly press conference, President Bush said, “I think the performers and the laughers should get together and solutionate this problem. We must not forget that our brave men and women in Iraq and other combative places need sitcoms to relieve the tension of being in a tense place.”