Bill Cosby Show Canceled by NBC for Refusal of Laugh Track

Written By: Greg Howell - Oct• 07•14

Bill Cosby, just a season from his hit I Spy, the first lead black character in a drama on television, developed a warm-hearted realistic pilot about a high school coach struggling with day to day headaches of school bureaucracy.  Most often Coach Kincaid glided by his wits, his charm and humor. The Bill Cosby Show was a huge hit. Ranking in the top ten shows much of its first season, perched between mega hits Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color and Bonanza on Sunday nights.   The Bill Cosby Show received 4 Emmy nominations, and great critical praise.

The problem was NBC butted heads with Cosby, due to his refusal to use a laugh track for his 30 minute sitcom.  Except for a few early 1950’s low-key comedies, such as Beulah and Mama, sitcoms had used a live studio audience or a canned laugh track since the beginning. However, Cosby refused to budge. NBC, due to the conflict, and a minor dip in the ratings, cancelled The Cosby Show in protest.  Following this show of course, Cosby starred in several other shows, The Electric Company, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and The Cosby Show, which spent 5 years at #1! A later sitcom, titled simply enough Cosby, ran for 4 seasons in the late 1990’s. The Bill Cosby Show ran from 1969-71.


Cosby would go on to greater heights…