They were on separate magnetic tracks which were run locked to the film pictures. The picture roll still had the original optical soundtrack on it, with the laughs added. On one transmission, the magnetic track failed, and rather than take it off the air the engineers switched over to the optical track.
I'm not sure that they were even aware at the time that the tracks were different, but they soon found out! As a footnote, I well remember the outrage when Sky re-ran MASH with the laughter tracks for the first time in this country! Suburbanqueen Posts: Forum Member. In fact all US sitcoms Some shows mic-up the studio audience in such a way, and then mess around with the sound levels, that they sound 'canned' when they're not.
A number of ITV shows contrive to make the audience sound so loud and tinny that they might as well have used canned laughter. As people have already noted, actual canned laughter hasn't been widely used for decades in this country. From the late s to the early s, Charley Douglass had a monopoly on the expensive and painstaking laugh business. When it came time to "lay in the laughs", the producer directed Douglass where and when to insert the type of laugh requested.
Douglass formed Northridge Electronics in August , named after the Los Angeles suburb in the San Fernando Valley where the Douglass family resided and operated their business in a padlocked garage. Only immediate members of the family knew what the inside actually looked like  at one time, the "laff box" was called "the most sought after but well-concealed box in the world". Charley Douglass was the most conservative of all, so producers often put in bids for Charley's son Bob, who was more liberal in his choice of laughter.
Douglass used a keyboard to select the style, gender and age of the laugh as well as a foot pedal to time the length of the reaction. Inside the machine was a wide array of recorded chuckles, yocks and belly laughs; exactly laughs on 32 tape loops, 10 to a loop. Each loop contained 10 individual audience laughs spliced end-to-end, whirling around simultaneously waiting to be cued up.
Sound engineers could watch sitcoms and knew exactly which recurrent guffaws were next, even if they were viewing an episode for the first time. Douglass frequently combined different laughs, either long or short in length.
Attentive viewers could spot when he decided to mix chuckles together to give the effect of a more diverse audience. A man's deep laugh would be switched for a new woman's laugh, or a high-pitched woman's giggle would be replaced with a man's snicker.
After regularly complaining to Douglass, the laugh was retired from the regular lineup. There was also a second "titter" track in the loop, which consisted of individual people laughing quietly. This "titter" track was used to quiet down a laugh and was always playing in the background.
When Douglass inserted a hearty laugh, he increased the volume of the titter track to smooth out the final mix. This titter track was expanded to 45 seconds in , later to 60 seconds in , and received overhauls in , and Douglass kept recordings fresh, making minor changes every few months, believing that the viewing audience evolved over time.
Douglass knew his material well, as he had compiled it himself. He had dozens of reactions, and he knew where to find each one. Douglass regularly slightly sped up the laughter to heighten the effect. His work was well-appreciated by many in the television industry. Laughter heard in sitcoms of the early s resurfaced years later in the late s. Douglass's "laff box" was purchased, unseen, at auction in when its owner failed to pay rent on the storage locker where it was housed.
The laugh track was also used on some prime time animated television series , starting with The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show ABC, —61; NBC, —64 , but only used it for the first four episodes of the series see its controversy below.
Hanna-Barbera's mid-summer sitcom, Where's Huddles? From to , most comedic cartoons produced for the Saturday morning genre were fitted with a laugh track, beginning with Filmation 's The Archie Show in As Douglass' laughter became redundant in the television industry, all of the animation studios eventually abandoned the laugh track by the early s. The show consisted of previous theatrical entries compiled into a series of half-hour showcases, which included other DFE theatrical shorts including The Inspector , Roland and Ratfink , The Ant and the Aardvark and The Tijuana Toads redubbed as The Texas Toads for television due to perceived Mexican racial stereotypes.
The original theatrical versions did not contain laugh tracks, but NBC insisted on its inclusion for television broadcast. The soundtracks were restored to their original form in when the DFE theatrical package went into syndication. Repackaging over the years has resulted in both theatrical and television versions of the entries being available. The exceptions were Misterjaw and Crazylegs Crane , which were produced specifically for television and never re-released theatrically, resulting in laughter-only versions.
Following Filmation were producers Sid and Marty Krofft. When production began on H. Pufnstuf in , executive producer Si Rose viewed any comedy without a laugh track as a handicap, and convinced the Kroffts to include one on Pufnstuf. When transitioning from high concept children's programming to live variety shows, the Kroffts continued to employ Douglass for sweetening. As the use of laugh tracks for Saturday morning series became more common, Douglass eventually added several children's laughs to his library.
Current Disney Channel -produced sitcoms and studio-created laugh tracks are primarily recorded in front of live audiences. By , Douglass's laugh business was proving so lucrative that he decided to raise the rates for his services.
However, unlike sitcoms, cartoons were mainly produced with lower budgets  and studios looked for opportunities to reduce costs. Hanna-Barbera and Rankin-Bass distanced themselves from Douglass starting in They still felt that having a laugh track was necessary, so they began extracting several of Douglass's chuckles by various means and compiled their own laugh tracks.
These custom laugh tracks were controversial, and contemporaries and historians questioned the sensibility and realism for the use of these tracks. Hanna-Barbera was the first cartoon production studio to cease using Douglass's services.
They then expanded using the laugh track into their daytime fare, starting with The Banana Splits in , which emulated Filmation's The Archies. This changed at the start of the —72 season, when Hanna-Barbera employed their limited laugh track using the MacKenzie Repeater machine, a tape machine that can play up to five sound effects repeatedly on rotation,   which cued up to five Douglass laughs repeatedly.
Mixed with a metallic sound, it included three mild laughs and two uncontrollable belly-laughs one contains a woman laughing prominently at the tail end.
With the exception of their variety shows, such as The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour , which they briefly turned to Douglass for sweetening, Hanna-Barbera used these laughs regularly over the next decade on nearly all of their Saturday morning fare.
This laugh track, which added an additional belly laugh to the mix, was noticeably slowed during production Wait Till Your Father Gets Home was the only television series produced by Hanna-Barbera to have included that specific belly laugh track. In , laugh track historian and re-recording mixer Paul Iverson commented on the legacy of the Hanna-Barbera track:. The Hanna Barbera laugh track did more to give laugh tracks a bad name than Douglass's work could ever have done.
Using the same five or so laughs repeatedly for a decade does not go by unnoticed, no matter how young the viewer is. Iverson added:. All it takes is watching an episode of Josie and the Pussycats alongside of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space and it is painfully obvious. The laughs initially consisted of only loud eruptions; mild jokes received unnatural bouts of laughter, while other times, the laughter erupted in mid-sentence.
The studio had improved the process by the time production began on The Osmonds in , using more modulated laughs culled from Douglass's — library. The studio ended the practice when production on the two series ended. Unlike the two "silent" pilots before it, The Muppet Show series incorporated its own laugh track onto the show, but in a completely different manner; because the variety program was modeled after vaudeville , the viewers were often treated to glimpses of the theater audience and their reactions to The Muppets' antics on stage though the audience was composed of Muppet characters as well.
New laughs, chuckles and applause were recorded for the first few episodes so they sounded fresh and new. Some of these laughs were provided by the actual cast and crew members reacting to dailies of episodes; eventually, The Muppet Show began recycling these same chuckles for later shows, establishing its own one-of-a-kind laugh track. A by-product of this convincing laugh track was the belief by viewers that The Muppet Show was indeed taped in front of a live audience, some even asking for tickets to attend tapings; Henson's son, Brian, noted how strange he thought it was that people believed the show was shot before a live audience.
Henson himself knew that having a live audience was impractical, given the production complexities the NBC sitcom ALF was also difficult to produce and utilized only a laugh track ; he also notes that because of the series' vaudeville inspiration, having sounds of laughter was a necessity, but admits that it was not an easy task — "I look at some of the early shows, I'm really embarrassed by them.
The sweetening got better later on, but it's always a difficult thing to do well, and to create the reality of the audience laughing. Various Muppet characters or guest stars broke the fourth wall and acknowledged the use of the laugh track. In the fourth episode of the series, Kermit the Frog was asked by guest Ruth Buzzi if he felt a gag or routine was funny enough for the show, to which he turned to the camera and replied, "That's up to the laugh track.
Post- Muppet Show fare then turned to Douglass for audience reactions; one-shot specials such as The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show and The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years were given full audience by Douglass's son, Robert, who by that time was running Northridge Electronics following his father's retirement. Though the use of canned laughter reached its peak in the s, a few shows still retained the multi-camera tradition.
Production changes in location, however, caused the remainder of the first season to transition back to single-camera entirely, using only a laugh track. This continued through season two until low ratings led to its cancellation in Once your account is created, you'll be logged-in to this account.
Disagree Agree. Notify of. Inline Feedbacks. October 28, July 10, August 22, The Clapping Game invites, in an introductory way, awareness to personal reactions and the reactions of others. Furthermore, it invites the notion of choosing how we respond after making a mistake or not and as mistakes are made in our presence. Yes, this is a light touch on Social Emotional Learning, Emotional Intelligence, and other related topics as well.
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