What exactly qualifies as “hard humor”? CEO of Warner Bros. Television Channing Dungey calls it “the pie in the face” in an interview with Deadline.

The first laugh sets the tone for what follows, and while there will still be instances of other emotions—the studio audience “aww” reaction is still significant—the emphasis is on jokes. The format can then be anything from there. That serves as the company’s primary motivation for its new TV comedy approach. The current roster of comedy produced by Warner Bros. TV consists of the network series Abbott Elementary, Night Court, Young Sheldon, Call Me Kat, and Bob Abishola as well as the streaming series Ted Lasso, Sex Lives of College Girls, and Shrinking.

This difference was made in response to the blending of comedy and drama that is becoming more prevalent. For a while, the classification was based on episode length in the eyes of award ceremonies; anything 30 minutes or less was comedy, and anything longer, drama. But with the popularity of hour-long comedies and half-hour dramas, it’s not quite as simple anymore, and the tactic has mostly been dropped. Even still, programs like The Bear, a half-hour dramedy that isn’t quite “hard funny,” are classified as comedies. Dungey wants to draw a clear boundary and demonstrate that what viewers are seeing is hilarious.

The studio’s most anticipated future films all come from comedy industry veterans. Boyos, a comedy about male friendship, was created by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs (Hacks). The Hulu series Four Weddings and a Funeral and Mindy Kaling’s House of Kyle depict a streetwear designer who takes over an upscale Italian fashion label. In Chuck Lorre’s film How to Be a Bookie, a seasoned bookmaker is seen navigating the legalization of sports betting. These three single-camera comedies will all be available to watch on streaming sites, with the last one—debut Lorre’s production for HBO Max—running alongside the first two on Prime Video.

However, the statistics demonstrate that there is a market for multi-camera network sitcoms, so this does not imply that Dungey is giving up on network television. Since its launch on January 17, NBC’s Night Court has attracted more than 25 million people, making it the most watched broadcast premiere of the 2022–2023 season. It has already been given a second season renewal.

Dungey claims that there are two major difficulties in reproducing a show’s popularity like the new Night Court. The first is to ensure that any reboots provide a ton of opportunities for humor that seems current and authentic, rather than simply bringing a show back out of nostalgia. The second goal is to persuade more aspiring authors to use the multi-camera format, which has lost popularity in favor of the more “in” single-camera shows. Dungey is optimistic that more opportunities for that brand of hard laughter will arise now that Netflix and HBO Max are adopting the multi-camera model.


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