WSJ Confirms Your Suspicion: NFL Pregame Hosts Laugh Way Too Often
NFL pregame shows are a popular target for criticism. Bill Simmons once devoted an entire column to why they're not working, with a prime culprit being hosts "laughing hysterically for no discernible reason." Was he right to single that out? The Wall Street Journal's David Biderman put the laughing idea to the test...and sure enough, it's as a big a problem as it seemed.
The over-laughter was especially epidemic on Fox NFL Sunday, the pregame show featuring Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan, Curt Menefee, Jimmy Johnson, and Howie Long. Biderman found that on one recent program, the five hosts spent a total of two minutes and 22 seconds laughing. This represented 11.6 percent of the show's entire air time.
And it will not shock you to learn that the #1 laughing culprit was Bradshaw. We'll let Biderman explain:
"Mr. Bradshaw was easily the laughing leader, going for about 92.4 seconds—including 2.5 seconds at the start of the show before anyone said anything."
Emphasis ours - Biderman played the observation straight, but that only makes it cut even deeper. There was much less (though still substantial) mirth to be had over at CBS' The NFL Today, where they laughed for a total of 43 seconds. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher took the laughing title, laughing for 35.8 of those 43 seconds.
Greg Gumbel (apparently filling in for normal host James Brown that week), though, did not join in on the fun, producing just 1.5 seconds of laughter, far and away the lowest total of anyone on either show.
So what do these numbers tell us? Basically, the laughter really is that excessive (at least in Fox's case). Also, we learned the Wall Street Journal will bring quantitative analysis to almost any issue. We wouldn't have it any other way.
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