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-   -   Are laugh tracks really 'dead people laughing'? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=475996)

scrambledeggs 07-18-2008 01:21 AM

Are laugh tracks really 'dead people laughing'?
 
In the movie, "Man on the Moon", it has Andy Kaufman (Character) say that the laugh tracks used are of "dead people", implying that they were recorded so long ago that the original people are dead.

Is that true -- how old are the laugh tracks? I would imagine if they dont update them, a good portion of the laughter you hear is indeed of the dearly departed.

A bit creepy -- does anyone know when the latest laugh tracks used on TV were actually recorded? Are we talking 1950's?

Sage Rat 07-18-2008 01:34 AM

Browsing off of the Wikipedia page I found this:

Quote:

Every few years, the tracks were slightly changed and updated - new laughs added, others banished forever, still others put "on hiatus" for a few years and revived later. Thus, many sitcoms can be dated by listening to the laugh track - just listen to the tracks on Mister Ed (early 1960s) vs. those on Bewitched (mid-60s) vs. those on The Partridge Family (early 1970s).

Interestingly, a few all-time classic tracks recorded in the late 1950s and early 1960s were never retired, and can still be heard on 'Frasier'! Today, these classic laugh tracks most likely reside in the tape vaults of Todd-AO in Hollywood.


Related, but the Wilhelm Scream (used commonly by George Lucas) dates back to 1951, and the most likely candidate for the voicing died in 2003. So the new Indiana Jones is indeed playing a dead man's scream.

Ale 07-18-2008 03:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sage Rat
Browsing off of the Wikipedia page I found this:



Related, but the Wilhelm Scream (used commonly by George Lucas) dates back to 1951, and the most likely candidate for the voicing died in 2003. So the new Indiana Jones is indeed playing a dead man's scream.

Hmmm, I donīt recall in which part of the movie the scream appeared (sounded?) once again, could you remind me?

Wendell Wagner 07-18-2008 03:48 AM

According to this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367882/trivia

the Wilhelm scream is used when a boy in the library is crashed into by a bike.

Ale 07-18-2008 05:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner
According to this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367882/trivia

the Wilhelm scream is used when a boy in the library is crashed into by a bike.

Thanks!

CalMeacham 07-18-2008 07:13 AM

"I Hear Dead People!"

Johnny L.A. 07-18-2008 09:01 AM

What was the name of the Harlan Ellison story where a guy discovers his dead aunt's (?) laugh on an old laugh track?

kunilou 07-18-2008 09:19 AM

On some episodes of I Love Lucy, December Bride and some other old sitcoms, you can hear a relatively high-pitched, very loud "HA-HA-HA" on some laugh tracks. Supposedly (I can't remember the cite) that laugh is Desi Arnaz himself. So if you ever hear that particular laugh, you can be sure that it did, indeed, come from a dead person.

Dr. Drake 07-18-2008 09:36 AM

I think it's only creepy if dead laughers are responding to a current production. If the actors, writers, directors, and cameramen are also dead (or most of them, anyway), it loses some of its effect.

Tripler 07-18-2008 10:15 AM

Good laughter or a good joke never dies.

Unfortunately, when Aunt Mildred appears on a laugh track to some crappy sitcom like 'Frasier!', her dead panties do get in a bundle.

I think it's kinda creepy to use 20+ year old laugh tracks. I mean, that assumes that people from 20 years ago find today's comedy funny . . . and that my friends, is a stretch.

Tripler
Now looking back for comedy? Some things are just timeless.

John DiFool 07-18-2008 10:57 AM

I thought Frasier was filmed in front of a live studio audience...

Exapno Mapcase 07-18-2008 11:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John DiFool
I thought Frasier was filmed in front of a live studio audience...

Many sitcoms are filmed live. That's the problem. A sitcom can take hours to film, because of multiple takes, scene changes, clothing changes, technical problems, and general breakdowns.

By the time an audience has sat through a punchline seven times over an hour, they're not going to laugh as loudly as they would as if it were the first time they heard it. All sitcoms are "sweetened" with added laughter during post-production. That's the only way to make it appear that the live show was filmed live.

Slithy Tove 07-18-2008 11:41 AM

I knew corpses farted, but not laughed.

Exapno Mapcase 07-18-2008 12:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
I knew corpses farted, but not laughed.

Cite?

Slithy Tove 07-18-2008 12:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
Cite?

Just in time for Dopers' lunch breaks in the remainder of the continental US, an article about an open-air lab used to study human decomposition in nature

"As the tenth day of decay approaches, the bacteria-induced bloating becomes pronounced. Sometimes this pressure is relieved via post-mortem flatulence, but occasionally an over-distended abdomen will rupture with a wet pop. "

Also this bit:

"The students knelt alongside the slumped form, seemingly untroubled by the acrid, syrupy tang of human decay which hung in the air."

The word "human" is gratuitous, since from my own experience, decomposed human corpses in stink identically to cows and birds. The "wet pop," is, however, accurate.

Exapno Mapcase 07-18-2008 12:53 PM

Since when is a rupturing abdomen a fart?

No wonder I had no idea what you were talking about.

Slithy Tove 07-18-2008 12:56 PM

See the quoted: "post-mortem flatulence"

It means "after-death fart" in, appropriately, a dead language.

Frylock 07-18-2008 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
Since when is a rupturing abdomen a fart?

No wonder I had no idea what you were talking about.

Quote:

...this pressure is relieved via post-mortem flatulence, but occasionally an over-distended abdomen will rupture with a wet pop. "
Ruptured abdomens and post-mortem flatulence are being referred to as two different things in this passage.

-FrL-

Joey P 07-18-2008 01:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kunilou
On some episodes of I Love Lucy, December Bride and some other old sitcoms, you can hear a relatively high-pitched, very loud "HA-HA-HA" on some laugh tracks. Supposedly (I can't remember the cite) that laugh is Desi Arnaz himself.

There's no doubt in my mind that was Desi laughing off stage. It's the exact same laugh he used in front of the camera.

Exapno Mapcase 07-18-2008 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Frylock
Ruptured abdomens and post-mortem flatulence are being referred to as two different things in this passage.

-FrL-

Ah. I misread. My apologies.

Bytegeist 07-18-2008 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joey P
There's no doubt in my mind that was Desi laughing off stage. It's the exact same laugh he used in front of the camera.

This naturally raises the question: Is there any moment in I Love Lucy when Desi Arnaz, in the laugh track, is laughing at Desi Arnaz on screen?

Joey P 07-18-2008 01:54 PM

In all the times I noticed it, he was not on screen. I don't think his laugh was on the laugh track, I think he was off camera, watching Lucy do her thing and his laugh was loud enough (and distinct enough) to be picked up by the microphones.

rowrrbazzle 07-18-2008 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tripler
I think it's kinda creepy to use 20+ year old laugh tracks. I mean, that assumes that people from 20 years ago find today's comedy funny . . . and that my friends, is a stretch.

Heck, using laugh tracks is a bit creepy. It assumes the TV viewers think the show is funny.

Hampshire 07-18-2008 03:37 PM

If that creeps you out you should watch old episodes of Johnny Carson.
That whole show is HOSTED by a dead guy.

Kuboydal 07-18-2008 04:14 PM

I laugh at dead people.

pinkfreud 07-18-2008 06:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Johnny L.A.
What was the name of the Harlan Ellison story where a guy discovers his dead aunt's (?) laugh on an old laugh track?

The story is "Laugh Track," from the Ellison collection Angry Candy.

scrambledeggs 07-19-2008 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hampshire
If that creeps you out you should watch old episodes of Johnny Carson.
That whole show is HOSTED by a dead guy.


No, not for me--that's different, because we know that he died, and it is not a shock -- anymore than to look at a picture of abraham lincoln or JFK.

The laugh track on the other hand implies that someone in the audience is laughing, right now, unseen, but in fact it is canned from 1950's people.


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