Laugh Tracks & Late Night


Pink Panther, probably because of the lack of dialogue, animation, or sensical jokes, always had a laugh track that stood out.

No one uses canned laugh tracks anymore of course, but until recently I’d forgotten how many cartoons used to have one.

A recent viewing of teletoon retro – with a micro-midget in the crook of my arm – brought up some odd memories: as a kid huffing Scooby Doo it wasn’t long before I realized that not only were the laughers repeating themselves, they were also apparently heading over to Josie and the Pussycats and laughing at those jokes in pretty much the same way.

It was only once I’d asked wikipedia that I realized how prevalent the problem was:

Critics took note of the inferior sounding laugh track permeating Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning fare. The same prerecorded laugh can be heard after nearly every punchline, which does not go unnoticed by the astute viewer. The fact that the treble was mixed far too high for the soundtrack it accompanies only drew attention to the falsity of the practice. Several shows that are victim of the abridged laugh track are The New Scooby-Doo MoviesCaptain Caveman and the Teen AngelsThe Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm ShowDynomutt, Dog WonderJabberjaw,Hong Kong PhooeyJosie and the Pussycats in Outer SpaceThe Flintstone Comedy Hour andHelp!… It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!. – Wikipedia

I think the modern/adult version of this is, unfortunately, the Letterman audience. I sometimes wonder if the crowd handlers are dressed like lion tamers with high voltage stun sticks.

I greatly enjoy the first half hour of The Late Show, but every quirky tick gets measured applause, every half-gag elicits a short homogeneous laugh – the quality of a joke can be judged by length, but not by intensity, there seems to be no exuberance or extremity permitted by the electro-rod carriers. It may not be the tinny guffawing of Scooby Doo, but the crowd response is so predictable I find it difficult to understand the difference.