In a book I just finished, Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman, he mentioned that during the year he lived in Germany he realized how often Americans needlessly 'laugh'. The anecdote he used was a trip to the super market. He was paying for his items and the cashier asked if he had exact change. He searched his pockets, chuckled nervously, and said "No, sorry." The Germany cashier didn't chuckle in response. Didn't even smile.
This anecdote was his segue into illustrating why laugh tracks have destroyed America's sense of humor. The laugh track has been employed in so many sitcoms, alerting us when a joke is being said and when we ought to laugh. Newer comedies like The Office, Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation and several others don't use laugh tracks. They make the audience subconsciously feel that we're intelligent enough to decide when something is funny and when it isn't.
Since reading his essay I've noticed more and more when Americans laugh for no reason. Telling someone something slightly unfortunate, trying to lighten an awkward situation, sometimes simply to be polite. Klosterman pointed out that in Germany, those he met don't even pity laugh. They belly laugh when things are funny and don't even consider chuckling when they're not. It's made me evaluate my life and how often I pity giggle and end texts inappropriately with "hahahaha". I've actually consciously decided when not to laugh in certain situations. Of course that makes for some genuinely uncomfortable situations, but it almost makes me feel more sure. Instead of texting [or saying] "We should go see a movie?! hahaha" I text [ say] "We should go see a movie." All business on the table. No beating around the bush. The way it should be.