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Another Sitcom Scene With Laughter Removed


 

Because I didn’t really care for that “Big Bang Theory Minus Laughter” clip that was floating around, I decided to try and make something that gave a fairer shake to a multi-camera sitcom scene while still removing the audience laughter. I settled on this scene from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

To make it seem more like a “real” scene, I dubbed in mild crowd noise in the background (though I probably should have made it louder), and a few sound effects, plus a laugh that is obviously not Ed Asner’s. It probably ought to have more sound effects added, though.

One big difference between the live-audience show and the single-camera show is that single-camera shows have tons of sound effects: ambient noise, footsteps, doors squeaking, anything to keep the sound from being “dead.” In a multi-camera show, the audience supplies the ambience, so sound effects are kept to a minimum. (I’ve heard “unsweetened” tracks for episodes of some sitcoms from the ’80s — tracks without any fake laughter or sound effects added — and almost all the sound occured live on the set, with few sounds added in post-production.) In the original version of this scene, they don’t have a sound effect for Sue Ann hitting the cake; they don’t even bother to dub in Ed Asner’s laugh, since they’re content to let it get drowned out by the audience.

Which is one reason why this exercise is a little pointless: shows that don’t have laugh tracks do, in fact, dub in lots of sounds to evoke a response from the viewer watching at home. The sounds are called “foley effects” and “music.”

The other reason why it’s pointless is that the pacing of this scene makes no real sense when you remove the audience laughter. No show without an audience would hold on a gag this long, unless they were painfully stretching it out in a Simpsons rake scene kind of way.


 
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Another Sitcom Scene With Laughter Removed

  1. You know, Get Smart would film their episodes without the laugh track, screen it before a test audience and only insert the laugh tracks in the places people actually laughed. Not only did it make the viewers that much more likely to be laughing along with the laugh tracks, but the writers found themselves learning a lot about comedy from that, as the test audiences didn't always laugh at the places the writers assumed they would.

  2. The Season 1 DVD of "The Odd Couple" contains a late-season episode, "Oscar's New Life" that you can play both with and without the laugh track, along with an opening commentary by Garry Marshall on how he and Tony Randall got ABC to run the show without the track.

    While it makes the show play more like a movie with odd (so to speak) pauses, it both showed how annoying the artificial laughter is, and in the case of "The Odd Couple" how much less energy there was doing the show without a studio audience reaction, compared to the live audience used in Seasons 2-5 (though IIRC, the first show they did with the audience also was still blocked as a one-camera episode, instead of the three-camera style).

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