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?

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 don´t recall in which part of the movie the scream appeared (sounded?) once again, could you remind me?

According to this:

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


“I Hear Dead People!”

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

I knew corpses farted, but not laughed.


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.

Since when is a rupturing abdomen a fart?

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

See the quoted: “post-mortem flatulence”

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

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


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.

Ah. I misread. My apologies.