A Sitcom Scene With And Without Music and “Sweetening”


One thing you rarely get to hear with TV comedies is an “unsweetened” version. That is, a version that doesn’t have any of the bits of music or canned laughter that are added after the taping. But here are two clips from an old sitcom scene: one as taped, the other as broadcast. This is from a WKRP in Cincinnati episode, and after the taping, some bits of canned laughter were added to fill in the spots where the audience didn’t laugh (usually when the line was too deadpan or not a hard joke: “I sincerely like the frame” gets a bit of canned laughter to tell the home viewer that it’s a joke). Also, the whole scene was underscored with music: “Breezin'” by George Benson.

It would be interesting to find a really unfunny sitcom scene and find out how much canned laughter was added in the sweetening; most of the laughter in this scene is real. But at least it gives an idea of how laugh tracks and background music are incorporated into the final mix.

Here’s the scene without music or canned laughter:


And the same scene with the music and extra bits of laughter added:


(Cross posted at Something Old, Nothing New)

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A Sitcom Scene With And Without Music and “Sweetening”

  1. I think the use of music in this show is not the same as the use of music in other sitcoms (i.e. anything from the Miller/Milkis/Boyett sitcom factory) in that it's AMBIENT sound. It's music coming out of a speaker in Andy's office, which is exactly what you would expect at a radio station, as opposed to a music "cue" that's there to stir an emotional response. I never cared for that kind of music in a sitcom — some of the most powerful moments in All in the Family were performed in front of a stunned, silent audience with no music needed to tell us how to feel about it.