The Laugh Track

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Big Daddy O'Reilly
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The Laugh Track

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:55 pm

I'm sort of touching on a topic RJ talked about recently, regarding the use of the laugh track on the show.

Now, I know that most people out there denounce the laugh track, saying things like it's insulting to viewers' intelligence because it tells them when they're supposed to laugh and such, but that is NOT true at all; as an advocate of the laugh track, I can tell you the laugh track was invented for two reasons: 1) because sometimes live shows needed audio adjustments and such during post-production, so pre-recorded laughs were used for "sweetening", and 2) for shows not live, it recreates the atmosphere of watching a comedy with a group of people, rather than all alone.

I know that Larry Gelbart, Gene Reynolds, and Burt Metcalfe didn't want the show to have a laugh track, because they never intended it to be "just another sitcom", but the laugh track simply adds fun to the atmosphere of the show; on top of that, watching the DVDs with the laugh track turned off is a little "eerie", with all the awkward pauses of silence and such. What's interesting though is that I didn't even realize that episodes like "The Bus" and "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?" didn't even have the laugh track until people pointed it out, which proves just how mesmerizing the engrossing the show's writing really is that you don't even notice the absense of extra audio.

However, I'm not fond of the new laugh track they started using by Season Six; it's my understand that the seasons before used the laughs of Charlie Douglass (the man who originally invented the laugh track), which were also used on practically every single sitcom from the late 50s and onward (hence why you can hear the same recognizable laughs on other shows as well), but by the 1976-1977 season, other people like Carroll Pratt started competing with their own laugh tracks. Pratt is who supplied the laugh track by Season Six, and to me, it's like instead of hearing a large audience having a great time watching a hilarious comedy, it's like hearing a small group of woman chuckling over gossip.

As someone working his way through television, I plan on utilizing the laugh track on my shows as a part to recreate the generations of television that television has forgotten - the 50s, 60s, 70s, back when television was good - in fact, if you've seen some of my YouTube-exclusive videos, I've already began utitlizing it on some of those so my followers can get used to them. Check 'em out sometime if you'd like, I have a new official channel:

http://www.youtube.com/JosephScarbrough

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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by Garbage Officer » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:23 pm

It really doesn't bother me that much, I can switch it off. I rarely sit there watching and notice it.
I have a friend who watched an episode the other day because she knew I watch the show and tends to like the same things as me and watched the episode Dr Pierce & Mr Hyde' but she found the laugh track really distracting and it put her off watching more episodes just because of it.

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RJ
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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by RJ » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:13 pm

Big Daddy O'Reilly wrote:I know that Larry Gelbart, Gene Reynolds, and Burt Metcalfe didn't want the show to have a laugh track, because they never intended it to be "just another sitcom", but the laugh track simply adds fun to the atmosphere of the show; on top of that, watching the DVDs with the laugh track turned off is a little "eerie", with all the awkward pauses of silence and such. What's interesting though is that I didn't even realize that episodes like "The Bus" and "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?" didn't even have the laugh track until people pointed it out, which proves just how mesmerizing the engrossing the show's writing really is that you don't even notice the absense of extra audio.
That eerie aspect of watching the DVDs without the laugh track is what keeps me from turning it off. That, and I often just forget.

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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by TrapperJoe » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:32 pm

I really don't mind the laugh track either way.

It's cool having the option to turn in on or off, kind of like having two different versions of an episode. I agree, it feels as if your watching with a crowd and it has a sort of comfort about it.

There are certain episodes though, where the laugh track may hinder some dialogue and the jokes may be flying at a rapid pace and it seems like the laugh track is trying to catch up with the pace of the show. Then there are times when the laugh track is either heard when it shouldn't or not heard when it should. One example I can think of off the top of my head is in the episode "Dear Mildred", when Col. Potter is receiving his anniversary gifts and Radar brings in the horse, and Radar hands Potter the reigns and says "Here's the keys." I always loved that line and laugh to myself....but no laugh track after that line. No big deal...but it always puzzled me.

Then there are episodes where the laugh track really helps the show flow along at a smooth pace and compliments the dialogue.

I feel M*A*S*H is in a league of its own, and it can go either way. I think it would be really strange to not hear the laugh track on traditional classic sitcoms such as The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy...

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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:19 pm

Actually, there's ANOTHER connection between M*A*S*H and Hogan's Heroes right there... Hogan's Heroes tried to get away with not having a laugh track either.

The problem was that when they tested the Hogan pilot with audiences, they were left confused, because they weren't sure what they had just watched was supposed to be funny or not, so because of that, Hogan's Heroes was given a laugh track as well.

Then again, the laugh track was REALLY invasive on that show, I think the producers were trying to make the show seem funnier than it really was (it wasn't funny so much as it was stupid); even sight gags all throughout that series had laughs every single time, when after the first few times, it wasn't even funny anymore... kind of like on Bewitched, not only did they make sure Samantha didn't twitch her nose EVERYTIME to execute her magic, but after the first few times she did it, they no longer used laughs after she did it because people were used to it.

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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by Mash4Ever » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:44 pm

I Don't Like The Laugh Track I Turn It Off On The DVD's When I Watch Mash!
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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by MASHGuy » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:45 am

I for some reason can't watch the show without the laugh track.

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Re: The Laugh Track

Post by Dear Sigmund » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:10 am

I think it generally just depends on what we were introduced to first.. When I first started watching the show, I watched it with the laugh track. And I must agree that now when I watch it, I actually find it difficult to watch it without the laugh track just because I am so used to it. While I do agree that the laugh track sometimes unnecessarily comes on in random moments in the hopes that its supposed to tell the viewer that scene was meant to be funny, I do find that overall, the laugh track just livens up and puts a kind of "peaceful and fun" vibe to the show, ESPECIALLY in the later seasons when the themes of the episodes started becoming more dark and gloomy.

For me, MASH, especially in the first 3 seasons, was more about having fun and the whole "hijinks at the front" type deal. While they did still have serious moments, it was primarily a comedy in the first couple of seasons. Whenever I watch an episode without the laugh track, it just feels soo much more "serious."
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