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History of canned laughter

By on Jul 25, 2010 in On A Whim | 1 comment

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In an interview, Ben Glenn II, a television historian talks about canned laughter. Fascinating read. I’d heard of the ‘Laff Box’, never read a comprehensive account of it.

How did canned laughter come about?

The concept actually goes back at least five hundred years. History tells us that there were audience “plants” in the crowds at Shakespearean performances in the 16th century. They spurred on audience reactions, including laughter and cheering—as well as jeers.

How about more recently?

Canned laughter was used to a certain degree in radio, but its first TV appearance was in 1950, on a rather obscure NBC situation comedy, The Hank McCune Show. Remarkably, there are a couple of clips from the show on YouTube.

(I’ve previously ranted about canned laughter in comedy shows.)



1 Comment

  1. Canned laughter also tells you that your low IQ mind was not able to see the humourous side of the joke which you sub-consciously passed off as a line meant to just keep the conversation going.

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