Weirdness of canned laughter

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by ElectroVibe, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    This is not about the idea of, or general use of canned laughter. It's been proven to work.

    But has anyone else noticed how STRANGE some of the canned laughter sounded on sitcoms in the 60's and 70's? To begin with, they were taken from old radio shows in the 1940's. (George Carlin once joked that most of the people you hear laughing on sitcoms were already dead.)

    The really weird thing is the part when it's just a few "mild" laughs. To me it doesn't sound like laughter at all. It doesn't even sound human. It's just really odd. Maybe the first time you heard it, it sounded normal. But to me it's never sounded normal.
    But I can't believe that people paid so much MONEY for this service. It was in such demand that Hanna Barbera cartoons had to create their own "inferior" version.

    Hopefully I can find an example of the weird laughter which you have probably heard thousands of times. But this short clip is an interesting history.

  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Laugh tracks make Big Bang Theory unwatchable for me.

    Now I'll watch the video you posted :) .
  3. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    I know what you mean. But their tracks are probably 1000 times better in quality.
    Joe Nerve likes this.
  4. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    "For in the end, he was trying to tell us what afflicted the people in 'Brave New World' was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking."

    Neil Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

    It's an appeal to herd instinct.
    bassdude51, Mr_Moo, fhm555 and 3 others like this.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I don't know why.... and I believe I'm one of the very few fans... but this is my new favorite comedy. Caught him on a sleepless night a few weeks back at 5:15AM on Adult Swim.

    I love this guy.

    No laugh track, lol.

    Joe Pera

    Joe Pera Talks With You
  6. 48thStreetCustom

    48thStreetCustom Inactive

    Nov 30, 2005
    British TV is the worst.

  7. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    The luvvie dahhhlings...

    I haven't owned a TV in 15 years. One of the best things I've ever done.
    LetItGrowTone and never-enough like this.
  8. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I've always thought the bottled stuff was much better.... :whistle:
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    more to the point: it's an attempt to create it (herd).

    per the OP: i doubt that many will chime in with "i love laugh tracks." and no one will admit to being guided by them. OTOH: the herd expects their use because they work.

    "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand." — Mark Twain

    ironic. cue the tuba.
    ElectroVibe likes this.
  10. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    "For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada."

    Neil Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.
  11. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I used to contribute to recorded laugh tracks.

  12. mike57


    Feb 12, 2009
    Our Fair City, MA
    EPL was broadcast this morning with recorded crowd noise. Made the whole thing kinda weird.
    dwm74 likes this.
  13. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE! Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2010
    Some sitcoms with laugh tracks make me laugh; others don't.

    So the actual comedy can't be completely dismissed, IMO.
    Mr_Moo, GregC, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  14. A lot of the times I would laugh at the stupidity of the fact that a big laugh would happen when something small and dumb was said.

    "Ha ha ha"... Really... the whole crowd is laughing there? :bored:
    Mr_Moo, JRA, The Owl and 1 other person like this.
  15. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    My brother and I used to amuse ourselves by laughing whenever the laugh track played on a show that wasn't necessarily that amusing to us. We would always end up making ourselves really laugh by doing it, though.
    Mr_Moo and JRA like this.
  16. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Yea, that on top of the acting and characters ;)

    Can't stand the stuff. Canned, bottled, or in a milk like cardboard container.

    Fun fact: All In The Family was the first sitcom to be recorded in front of a live audience.
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  17. ElectroVibe


    Mar 2, 2013
    One thing I will say in it's defense: The first two seasons of Happy Days were one of the best shows ever. That was before they began filming them in front of a live audience.
  18. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    For me, Two and Half Men is a perfect example of this. The ones with Charlie Sheen make me laugh. The ones with Ashton Kutcher make me cringe.

    Not blaming Ashton Kutcher for that either, something changed bigtime with that shows scripts at a certain point.
    Winslow, Mr_Moo and FilterFunk like this.
  19. SLIV


    Jul 16, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    I think we're going to see this more in broadcast sports and they're using the tracks (and ideas) from sports video games. There are complex levels of crowd noise that aren't really "cheers." To be fair, even in live events with big crowds, what they mic up and how they mix it is not "authentic."

    To make a comparison, it's like a live music performance without mics (really "unplugged") versus a miced live performance and mixed intentionally versus a full on multi-tracked recorded album. Big, big differences.
    Mr_Moo and dwm74 like this.
  20. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    The oddest additions I've found, as far as canned laughter is concerned, is when the sound editor has cut the tail of the decay too quickly, so it seems to stop dead.