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Audience Laughter

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I have to admit that at times (actually, most of the time) the audience laughter does not sound live at all.  Most of it sounds, in my view and as much as I like the show, way over the top.  There are no dynamics to the sound of the laughter - it's always full on.  I just don't buy that we're hearing the actual audience laughing.

 

I understand that scenes are often shot multiple times and the audience reaction would diminish with each re-take, but it begs the question of whether what we hear as the audience is mostly just canned.

 

I mean, I love the show, but I don't laugh like that at every line.  Maybe audience members are required to wear an electronic device on their heads that involuntarily triggers laughter at the push of the producer's button?

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Umm well every scene is shot in front of a live audience, if it's canned it's because they re-edit scene's after the live taping. So when't laughing track, it's a mixture of live audience and laughing track, so your right it's not always live audience, not that it matters. 

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Guest I'm not dead Cheryl

I have to admit that at times (actually, most of the time) the audience laughter does not sound live at all.  Most of it sounds, in my view and as much as I like the show, way over the top.  There are no dynamics to the sound of the laughter - it's always full on.  I just don't buy that we're hearing the actual audience laughing.

 

I understand that scenes are often shot multiple times and the audience reaction would diminish with each re-take, but it begs the question of whether what we hear as the audience is mostly just canned.

 

I mean, I love the show, but I don't laugh like that at every line.  Maybe audience members are required to wear an electronic device on their heads that involuntarily triggers laughter at the push of the producer's button?

 

First of all, your comment of "Maybe audience members are required to wear an electronic device on their heads that involuntarily triggers laughter at the push of the producer's button" I find a bit offensive, maybe because I know people who has been to tapings and i hold those people very dear to me. Maybe it's just me.

 

Second, scenes are not usually shot more than 2 or 3 times, and most of the times they do retakes is because they do re-writes in-between so the lines would be fresh each time, is not usual for the audience to see the scene the same time more than once, so no, it doesn't diminish with each re-take, cos, again they are not the same.

 

And third, even though there is some editing some times, that IS the audience laughter you are hearing.  I have never heard of anyone who has even been to a taping (and years on this fandom means a lot of people) ever saying that they were "forced to laugh" or anything of the sort. They have mentioned, though, sometimes being asked to "tone it down".

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I think one reason people laugh even when a scene is done more than once is that they're already excited to be there and are more likely to laugh anyway. And I think that when a scene is redone because of the actors flubbing a line, that probably makes it even funnier.

For scenes that are pre-taped, the audience watches those scenes on the monitors in the spot where they will come in the episode, and their reaction to those scenes is recorded as well, so what we hear is the audience's genuine reaction to what they're seeing, just as we react.

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I mean, I love the show, but I don't laugh like that at every line.  Maybe audience members are required to wear an electronic device on their heads that involuntarily triggers laughter at the push of the producer's button?

 

That's um, mind control. If gadgets like that exist, WB Studios probably hasn't gotten security clearance for that yet.

 

Have you considered that your idea of humor is not in the majority? 

Edited by tx-fictionqueen
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Umm well every scene is shot in front of a live audience, if it's canned it's because they re-edit scene's after the live taping. So when't laughing track, it's a mixture of live audience and laughing track, so your right it's not always live audience, not that it matters.

No, it's not "canned". It's just the recorded laughter of the audience. Canned laughter fwas an invention of Charley Douglass. He created what was called a "Laff Box". A brief description :

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 320 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. Since the tapes were looped, laughs were played in the same order repeatedly. Sound engineers would watch sitcoms and knew exactly which recurrent guffaws were next, even if they were viewing an episode for the first time. Frequently, Douglass would combine 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.

So it is not "canned laughter", it is the recorded reaction of the live audience.

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I wasn't trying to offend anyone, including people who attend the tapings.  Yes, that comment was an attempt at humor, not an assault on the intelligence of the audience members.  My question was not whether the audience is being manipulated but rather whether the laughter we hear is enhanced or overdubbed afterward in the final editing of the episodes.

 

I guess I'd expect a bit more range in volume, intensity and length of the laughter, reflecting how funny the line was (assuming one believes that jokes may obtain varying degree of responses).

 

But, if it's their actual response to the jokes, OK, then I've learned something here.

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Umm well every scene is shot in front of a live audience, if it's canned it's because they re-edit scene's after the live taping. So when't laughing track, it's a mixture of live audience and laughing track, so your right it's not always live audience, not that it matters. 

 

Actually, I also mentioned this in another thread featuring this topic.

 

It is also my belief that they will ONLY use canned laughter when they don't get the audience reaction that they were looking for. I know this because at one of the tapings I went to, our response was, "Awwwww" because it was sad...and when it aired, it was replaced with laughter because maybe the writers didn't want us to be sad about it. LOL.

 

Other than a few tweaks here and there, it is definitely a LIVE AUDIENCE. Pay close attention to the laughs in season 6. If you hear a high pitched laugh often, yeah, that's my friend Bobby who was a regular with Kellee and I. LOL.

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It is also my belief that they will ONLY use canned laughter when they don't get the audience reaction that they were looking for. I know this because at one of the tapings I went to, our response was, "Awwwww" because it was sad...and when it aired, it was replaced with laughter because maybe the writers didn't want us to be sad about it. LOL.

 

Other than a few tweaks here and there, it is definitely a LIVE AUDIENCE.

That's called "sweetening", but multi-camera, live audience shows rarely use the box, they don't need to, they have recorded audience reaction and use that to mix it with the video

 

Pay close attention to the laughs in season 6. If you hear a high pitched laugh often, yeah, that's my friend Bobby who was a regular with Kellee and I. LOL.

It's amazing how you can recognize a laugh. My daughter attended a taping of SNL and I could hear her laugh.

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I am used to the Audience Laughter since I`m watching Comedy series.

But why do they have to laugh at once all the time *LOL* I wish only one person would start laughing and then the rest joines that person *LOL*

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I can think of examples where there is lots of different laughter and not all at the same time

One is when Sheldon was emptying the dryer thingy and some woman was cackling away by herself which then brought others in.

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They use the recorded laughter in the same manner as people combine images with photoshop, to get the end result they are looking for. This might not have anything to do with the reality of what happened during the taping.

 

People have the real life experience of watching a comedian perform for a live audience, and the "feel" of the live contemporaneous laughter is different, which is why the "photoshopped" laughter seems off to some.

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Laughter may be edited if they've cut different takes together or picked up from a point where keeping the laughter would sound too jolted. Or it can be added if they decided a certain reaction didn't work once the edit is done, etc. But the most of it is live laughter from the lovely (and lucky) audience. 

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I believe that watching the taping with the live audience is very much like watching a funny play or a funny movie, sometimes one person sees the punchline coming, or is more tickled by something than others, but generally everyone reacts the same way at the same time because of the timing of the jokes--that's why timing is so important in comedy--beats of silence, a deadpan look, deadpan delivery, or some physical bit, etc.

 

I think that people get too caught up in trying to analyze it when it is indeed 99.9% the real reaction of the audience in the moment, even while watching a pre-taped segment.

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I find the laughter and other noises rather annoying at times, it makes it feel slightly unrealistic, the set and the scene itself. For example when a character has meant to have said something offensive, the audience go oooo uhh oo. I find it annoying because what they said didn't even seem that bad, I mean I have never sat in a room and watch the TBBT with some one oooing and awhing like the audience do, seems like an over reaction, It wouldn't have offended me or at least I wouldn't haven't taken it to heart. (I can understand it could offend some people). When they are laughing out loud as well, it's like its a queue for people at home to laugh when it may not actually be that funny.

I never laugh like the audience do I giggle or a small chuckle here and there, most the time a goofy smile ;) It annoyed me in friends too, especially in friends, there was always one laughing a little longer than others, like really L.O.Ling it :p

I love new girls set up, no audience which I love, no one is over laughing and actually ruining the joke, making it seem more funny or something worse than it actually is, a more realistic atmosphere. I actually have a really good laugh when I watch that show. 

However I don't think TBBT would be the same without the audience so its torn. :)

Edited by LoveShamy

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I know in the past live shows would have certain "professional" laughers in the audience just to keep the rest of the people laughing.  I have wondered if TBBT uses such people.  I know usually the rest of the audience do not know who these people are and sometimes not even the actors.  I saw a special about it back in the 70s and at that point they said it had been done throughout the history of live television shows and even back in the radio days.   

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I know in the past live shows would have certain "professional" laughers in the audience just to keep the rest of the people laughing.  I have wondered if TBBT uses such people.  I know usually the rest of the audience do not know who these people are and sometimes not even the actors.  I saw a special about it back in the 70s and at that point they said it had been done throughout the history of live television shows and even back in the radio days.   

 

Roxanne, over at Fan Forums, spent almost the entire fourth and fifth seasons attending.  She would have known just by seeing the same "laughers" there all the time, but she never reported it.  Not to mention the various times that the writers have to rewrite a joke on the spot because there was no reaction.   What you're saying is that those laughers would have caused a reaction and they wouldn't have had to rewrite the jokes.   

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I never laugh like the audience do I giggle or a small chuckle here and there, most the time a goofy smile ;) It annoyed me in friends too, especially in friends, there was always one laughing a little longer than others, like really L.O.Ling it :p

I love new girls set up, no audience which I love, no one is over laughing and actually ruining the joke, making it seem more funny or something worse than it actually is, a more realistic atmosphere. I actually have a really good laugh when I watch that show.

 

New Girl is what's called a single camera show. It requires a lot of editing and the actors have no idea what kind of reaction they are getting. If there is a dialogue between two characters, they set up and shoot all of one characters lines then reset and shoot all of the other characters lines. This has to be edited to give the impression of dialogue. In shows like TBBT, with multiple cameras, the whole conversation can be shoot as if the characters are actually having a conversational, with different cameras filming each actor. You can also have a wide establishing shot with a different camera (think of TBBT opening sequence with them all sitting on the couch or chairs and then a different cameras following the dialogue. In a single camera, the lenses would have to be changed, then take the establishing shot, then change the lenses again, so they can do the close up of each character saying their lines, then moving onto the next character.

Because of the longer shooting time with single camera, audiences are not really feasible, due to set up time and reconfiguring for every shot. As a result, single camera comedy shows in the fifties, sixties and seventies, used laugh tracks, where individual laughs were recorded and then were electronically combined using a special machine. Multi Camera Comedies were shot in front of an audience, and their reaction was recorded. Even pre-taped scenes are shown to the audience and then their reaction is taped at the same time the scene is shot.

Many actors, especially if they are coming from theatre, prefer the multi camera with the audience as it is presented like a play, and then actors are feeding off the audience reaction. Not to mention, they let you know when something is funny or not funny. If you find those thing annoying, I would suggest you not go to a theatre to see a live show, as that happens all the time with plays and musicals.

 

However I don't think TBBT would be the same without the audience so its torn. :)

It wouldn't, and not for the reason you might think. The actors have said multiple times that they love having the audience there to get reactions from. Mayim mentioned in an interview that Jim seems to come alive with the audience. There are many actors that do. Johnny, Jim and Kunal have extensive theatre experience. Melissa has done several stage shows, along with her standup work. Kaley and Mayim come from Television, and interestingly, their experience is multi-camera with an audience. Simon's experience is mostly film (which is single camera).

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Some of the audience laughter is quite funny, you can pick out individual laughs

For examples

When Sheldon told Leonard about understanding what friends with Benefits means there was a lot of laughter but there was a guy laughing louder than everybody

When Sheldon was in the laundry room during the closet episode there was one woman chuckling away to herself

When Amy was showing the monkey the picture of crocodiles with mouthful of monkeys there was a funny laugh from a guy

Then in the season 4 bloopers the scene where the girls are in a restaurant and one mad laugh from the audience made Kaley stop her line

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Somebody recently said something to Bill Prady on twitter about the laughter and he said very clearly that sometimes they tone it down, but that they never enhance or "sweeten" it.

To me that is the most definitive and true explanation. They film it in front of a live audience in order to get that immediate reaction and they film the scenes in order (and show the pre-taped scenes in order) so it's like seeing a play, with the same audience reaction as the story builds and the jokes pay off.

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I read that there was a study about how audience laughter actually helps a comedy show but I don't know how accurate it is. I personally like it. I also thought it was kind of weird but if felt kind of natural after watching Friends, TBBT and other sitcoms.

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Roxanne, over at Fan Forums, spent almost the entire fourth and fifth seasons attending.  She would have known just by seeing the same "laughers" there all the time, but she never reported it.  Not to mention the various times that the writers have to rewrite a joke on the spot because there was no reaction.   What you're saying is that those laughers would have caused a reaction and they wouldn't have had to rewrite the jokes.   

 

I don't know if the "placed" laughers would completely prevent jokes from being rewritten or that they always helped.  I'm not even sure if they had access to the script before hand so they would know what to expect.  From what I saw on the special back in the 70s they were not there to force or cause the other audience members to laugh as much as they were there just to nudge the laughter.  I'm sure if a certain joke just doesn't work, the "placed" laughers would not be much help anyway.

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I don't know if the "placed" laughers would completely prevent jokes from being rewritten or that they always helped.  I'm not even sure if they had access to the script before hand so they would know what to expect.  From what I saw on the special back in the 70s they were not there to force or cause the other audience members to laugh as much as they were there just to nudge the laughter.  I'm sure if a certain joke just doesn't work, the "placed" laughers would not be much help anyway.

 

What exactly does nudge the laughter mean?  Make them laugh?  Make them laugh longer?  Make them laugh louder?   But if they aren't much help, when a joke doesn't work, then why bother with them?  After all, they're not needed if a joke is working.   Besides, you have Bill Prady saying they don't sweeten it, which is what using placed laughers would be.

Edited by Tensor

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What exactly does nudge the laughter mean?  Make them laugh?  Make them laugh longer?  Make them laugh louder?   But if they aren't much help, when a joke doesn't work, then why bother with them?  After all, they're not needed if a joke is working.   Besides, you have Bill Prady saying they don't sweeten it, which is what using placed laughers would be.

 

Well, I did not say that absolutely tbbt used "placed" laughters. I was just wondering because this is a discussion about the laughter.  They probably don't and I believe Bill Prady, but when he said they did not sweeten the laughter, he may have only meant that they did not add canned laughter, there may still place "laughers" in the audience.   I am not saying that for a fact, just something that is possible.  They probably don't.  

 

I did not mean that the placed laughers were not much help all the time, just that if a joke was really bad, it would not help then.  Apprently it works well or shows would not hire them at all.  It may be something outdated now, though, I did see something about it a few months ago, but I forget what show it was.  The fact is that many shows used them in the 70s and before and even some shows still do.   So, it must work.  Again, I'm not saying tbbt uses them, but some shows do. 

 

Here is an interesting article. 

 

http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/01/humor-code-professional-laughers

Edited by scifi_boy2002

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