Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania on December 31, 1990 · Page 27
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Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania · Page 27

Hazleton, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Monday, December 31, 1990
Page 27
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Hazleton Standard-Speaker, Monday, December 31, 1990 27, Television's 6laugh track9 turns 40 NEW YORK (AP) - Man has been called the only animal that laughs; television, the only machine. And 1990 was the year that "canned laughter," the use of prerecorded hilarity in the TV comedy sound track, turned 40 years old. i Like many 40-year-olds, the 'laugh track didn't need or want to be reminded of its age, or that it first appeared on "The Hank Mc-Cune Show," an unremembered, filmed sitcom that made its debut on NBC on Sept. 9, 1950. : "The Hank McCune Show" was about an amiable bumbler who created chaos wherever he went. Its home audience, seated at the electronic hearth, heard the unmistakable sound of an audience's laughter if they noticed it at all. All was not what it seemed. The show, noted the trade newspaper Variety, "has an innovation in a sound track that contains audience laughter. Although the show is lensed on film without a studio audience, there are chuckles and yocks dubbed in. "Whether this induces a jovial mood in home viewers is still to be determined, but the practice may have unlimited possibilities if it's spread to include canned peals of hilarity, thunderous ovations and gasps of sympathy." And spread it has. To the early producers, the laugh track seemed as reasonable as the "claque" paid applauders who pack a theater to heat up an audience's response to the show. Radio comedies had never had that problem. Their actors usually were big stars who performed at microphones on bare stages in front of studio audiences that had come prepared to laugh. But producing filmed comedy for the hungry new medium meant using sound stages, where audiences could not fit. The laugh track synthesized audience reaction and cued the audience however ungently when something was funny. "If there's one basic truth in show biz," said Pat Weaver, the then-president of NBC, "the one basic truth is nobody knows what the audience reaction is going to be to any project until it is actually played." Weaver said the laugh track was predicated on the psychological fact that people are more inclined to laugh when they are "among" people who are laughing. "Not that I was in favor of laugh tracks," Weaver added."The idiots that were running the programs all got carried away, even if they were really good comedies," he said. "I was in favor of a laugh track that was intelligently used," he said. "That was the way it started and the way it should have continued." It didn't. Technology evolved to the post-production "laugh machine," where a technician could mix the audible range of human reactions from snort, chuckle and giggle to guffaw, belly laugh and roar into an audience's silence. A skilled technician could play the laugh machine like a musician, exhorting the "canned peals of hilarity, thunderous ovations and gasps of sympathy" into a symphony of synthetic response. "The machine will love it" and "we'll fix it in post" became stock excuses for a gag that fell short or, worse, an unfunny script. Even "I Love Lucy," where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz vir tually invented the three-camera sitcom filmed before a live audience, "sweetened" its laugh track with canned yocks when the audience got cold. "There's no question that we have been conditioned to the sound of laughter," said George Schlatter, executive producer of the comedy series "Laugh-In," which premiered in 1968. "It's now a science. You can't tell when it's a track. "Whether that's improving the quality of television is the real question and I don't think so," he said. This from a man who once took a collection of political speeches and dubbed laughs, music and applause under it. ("It was wonderful. I was going to market it but my lawyers said they would throw themselves under the car.") "Laugh-In" was blisteringly paced, blackout comedy series that redefined television comedy. It was filmed, for the most part, before a studio audience, and it was the laugh track's finest hour. "Because the bits were so short and we did so many of them .. . in order to get more jokes per minute, we many times removed the laughs," Schlatter said. "On 'Laugh-In,' electronic editing was perfected, becaue the cuts were made so fast that we no longer could make physical splices," he said. "And me, with my perverse sense of humor, I'd put in laughs where there were none." Club 40 Is CLOSED Watch For the Opening of the All NEW TERRACE CAFE Coming Soon! Under NEW MANAGEMENT Watch for Our GRAND OPENING 111 James Komack, executive producer of the hit sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter" and many others, made sure each of his shows had a different laugh track. "With 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father,' it was a very light track, almost like music," Komack said. "With 'Chico and the Man' and 'Welcome Back, Kotter,' (both filmed before a studio audience) most of the time what you heard was the laughter of the audience.' ' The exception is when the director cuts into a scene, forcing the audio engineers to blend different sound tracks together. Using laughter, rather than ambient noise, makes for a seamless transition between different "takes." "If you ever try to do a show without a laugh track, you'll see a huge difference," Komack said. "It flattens. The only way to get away from a laugh track is to use music, which can indicate when something is funny." "Sweetening" is still employed on those days when a great script and a hot cast collide with a cold audience, Komack said. "Then it's determined by the taste of the producers by the morality of the producers," Komack said. "After a while, you learn that it's valueless. In the extremes, people are going to hear it and say, 'Why are they laughing?' 2 "our Full Menu New Year's Eve 4 P.M. 'til 1991! Open Monday-Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm Thurs. Luncheons 1 1 :30 to 2 Closed New Year's Day Major Credit Cards 455-6630 The Originators of V Affordable Fine Dining yi Real Italian Bread No Preservatives Added (Vnjeq's Bakery & Deli 37 E. Broad Street, Hazleton 455-3700 455-3711 Open Dally 8-4 Closed Sundays Today's Specials Tea Biscuits With Raisins vivicai Dan nuayic nun vncc Peel 'N Eat Shrimp ORDER BAKERY & DELI ITEMS EARLY FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTIES . . . Bread & Rolls, Party Cakes, Cookie Trays, Pastry Trays, Cookie Baskets, Cold Cut Trays, Hot & Cold Deli Items, including A Variety of Salads. ip1 PRESTO... It's 1991! Thanks for a magical year. We look forward to seeing you in the year to come. HEIGHTS-TERRACE VIDEO 4 1 8 South Poplar Street L r l f Af A Mon.-Fri. 3-9:30 454-5050 Sat. 10-9:30 Sun. 12-5 . feftebtb 5 "'- - '"' J w ji lm i r ii ii T hM -nl II KvC VI W II II S) II II W I I XWSSK. II U N a a RENT 3 MOVIES FOR 3 DAYS ONLY $00 Rent Monday, Return Wed. Closing New Year's Eve at 6 PM NINTENDO TAPES & CHILDRENS MOVIES 100's To Choose From!! ONLY $1 .00 (Select Groups) FREi GRAND PLAZA BROAD & VINE STS. HAZLETON 459-0552 OPEN Mon.-Sat. 10-9 Audio, Video, Television Appliances iiiiintiiiiiimirm The 1 eeStore 21st & N. Vine Sts., Hazleton, Pa. . SPECIAL NEW YEAR'S EVE HOURS -9 AM -6 PM CLOSED NEW YEARS'S DAY IB 1 Ltr. Bt . -v Irlft'A ( 7-UPlltt-A PEPSI ?V PEPSI V 1 2 Pk. Cans PEPSI Case CLOSED SUNDAY 7-UP 12 oz. ftF-QQ v nans n y OPEN DAILY 9 am 9 pm GATtWAY ClffTtRKT. II IDWARDSVlUt 1:00, 4:30, 8:00 EES Hi BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR! National Board Of Review 3 1 I A M i ill 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 f f irmH M Holidav Gift Tickets Are Available! laatma$m Holiday Gift Tickets Are Available Bargain Matinee Monday & Tuesday LttA $3.50 UNTIL 3:00 P.M. -3 CHURCH Hill MALLRoute 309 Showtimes Monday and Tuesday: 1:00, 3:00, 7:10, 9:20 litfieWy TOUCMtTONC MCTMHI 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ran Monday and Tuesday 2:00 and 8:00 wmmmm' "EClAL SWGEMENT NO PASSES OR DISCOUNT TICKETS ACCEPTED and they'll turn off your program." Komack also cited his experience as an actor and writer in the three-year run of Jackie Cooper's series "Hennesey," which began in 1959. In its third year on the air, Cooper decided to ax the laugh track. "It was a brave, artistic, very clever, very creative, marvelous show and it got canceled," Komack said. The critical question these days is whether a quality series can survive without canned laughter. Critics loved recent, laugh track-less shows like "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story" and "Frank's Place," but the show didn't last. Apparently we Americans tend to get nervous if we sit alone with the TV, laughing in the dark. As Schlatter put it: "Genuine wit doesn't really need the machine; the audience does." And let the record reflect that "The Hank McCune Show" went off the air just three months after its premiere. REMOTE AREA CROSSED ; Antarctica's 800-mile-wide : "area of inaccessibility," named , for its remoteness from all coasts, was first crossed on foot by the six ; men of the 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, says National Geographic. Today's Special 8 oz. CHOPPED STEAK DINNER wchoice of potato n jngg & salad bar &For 0 DOUBLE DECKER TURKEY CLUB SANDWICH 3" 49 wfrench fries JUMBO STE BURGER No substitutions or takeouts on specials. Everyday 10 SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT on Regular Menu 31st & N. Church Sts., Rte. 309 Phone 459-3070 Celebrate The New Year With America's Favorite "HOME" Boy! A Family Comedy Without The Family. HOME CaALQNc (ED TODAY AND TOMORROW 1 & 3 PM ALL SEATS $3 EVENINGS 7 AND 9:1 5 PM 139 N. Brood St. West Hazleton Ph. 454-7865 RESTAURANT & LOUNGE RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED CLOSED TUESDAY, JAN. 1 New Year's Day Re-Opening Wednesday, Jan. 2 Kitchen Open: Monday-Thursday: 5 PM-10 PM Friday & Saturday 4 PM-1 1 PM Bar & Lounge Open At 3:00 PM OPEN HOUSE For NEW YEAR'S EVE DINNER at Carmen's Reservations Accepted For The' i NEW YEAR'S EVE V. r"7rfrtVJyr Rrvafions Accepted For The B WmvyS: CONTINENTAl LOUNGE And ft OPEN TODAY-NEW YEAR'S EVE 7 AM-9 PM I TUESDAY-NEW YEAR'S DAY 7 AM-9 PM 1 SERVING BREAKFAST DAILY 7 AM-1 1 AM jjj jHf Your Full 8 I t All Specials prepared for Takeouts Too! New Year's Eve Specials Family Restaurant and Continental Lounge And Dining Room 44 E. Broad St., Downtown Hazleton Phone 455-5521 Serving A Full Menu New Year's Eve tSBMlaUCH AMP AGUE COCKTAIL CARMEN'S FAMOUS LUNCHEON BUFFET IN CARMEN'S CONTINENTAL ROOM MONDAY THRU FRIDAY PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE FOR LARGE AND SMALL PARTIES FOR LUNCH! I II ma. J I 55 I I I t It's Nutritious, It's Delicious. Eat Healthy & Affordable . . . PIDUCU'C CAUnilC CYDCrQQ LUNCHEON BUFFET SEAFOOD SALAD, ROAST BEEF, FRESH MULTIPLE T ,! ii) HAM, FRESH FRUIT, -A! SALADS. SOUP & DESSERT. ONLY 95 J4 NEW SOUP & $4 AC SALAD BAR . OiJJ TODAY'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS 3-6 P.M. YOUR CHOICE $95 Scallops Au Gratin w Pot. & Veg. Filet Tips of Beef Burgandy wPot. & Veg. Flounder Almondine w Pot. & Veg. 8 8 8 Dinner Specials 8 Baked Virginia Ham with fruit sauce 8 K Our Famous I Roast Fresh Ham 1 with stuffing S5 Served with Potato $J&Q5 2 -ondchoiceof O H vegetoble or salod aW fi LARGEST SELECTION OF SAUTEED CHICKEN AND SEAFOOD Serving Soups and Sandwiches prepared just for you! Includes: Soup or Salod Potato or Vegetable Coffee of Tea $g 95 8 naw:tn;iM:ntiM;mw.i.nt-inii,',iwwrrnin

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