Aaron Sorkin talks about the TV show maker's comedy legacy

By Aaron Sorkin
November 27, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Feb. 25, 1928-Sept. 11, 2009

Larry Gelbart couldn’t stand the laugh track on M*A*S*H. ”Who are all those people laughing?” he once asked. ”The Swiss?” When he asked that question, it was 1972. There was no such thing as a comedy without a laugh track.

Comedies had three jokes per page, not real blood and real dying or a mixture of horror, heartbreak, and moral ambiguity. As the creator of M*A*S*H, Gelbart was the uncommon genius behind the most important show in the history of television. And when you watch Mad Men, The Office, The West Wing, and countless others, know that the writers are walking in the footprints left by Larry Gelbart and reaching to graze the bar he set so high.

Gelbart died of cancer in L.A.

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