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Why do people laugh

  1. Apr 9, 2012 #1
    I listen to the radio sometimes, and a comedian is on, saying "....Wisconsin, I love you very much, I want to marry you, traditionally...." Then people laugh, I don't know why ?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2012 #2
    I think that the state of Wisconsin recognizes same-sex marriages. So the "traditionally" part in the joke tries to indicate the comedian is not gay and/or poke fun at the state or it's people for their views. It's a stupid joke, you shouldn't feel bad for not laughing.
     
  4. Apr 10, 2012 #3

    Danger

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    It's canned laughter, the same as on all Yank sitcoms. Someone says something inane, and then a recording of idiots laughing is played to make it seem as if something humourous occurred.
     
  5. Apr 10, 2012 #4
    Does anyone know when this irritating trend of canned laughter started ?
    It is as if the creators of the show are instructing the audience when to laugh.
     
  6. Apr 10, 2012 #5

    Danger

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    That is exactly what they were doing in the first place. The laugh track is a more controllable outgrowth of the signage system that they used for live TV. There were large signs over the stage with instructions such as "LAUGH", "BOO", "CHEER", etc. printed on them. When one was lit up, the audience was expected to obey. Once they began videotaping the shows for later airing, as opposed to the filming of live broadcasts, all sorts of editing became available, including the addition of laugh tracks.
     
  7. Apr 10, 2012 #6
    Most people are too busy to laugh so they pay professionals to laugh for them and record the sounds. At the same time, no one can afford to pay funny script writers either. What could be more natural then, to write a comedy series without a single funny line it it and add in a sound track of people watching someone fall down a flight of stairs.
     
  8. Apr 10, 2012 #7
    Like most sound effects canned laughter dates back to the early days of radio. Bottom line is its a cheap trick that works. No different then a million other shortcuts other people might take in any line of work they might do. They could use only live audiences to produce similar results, but that's expensive and unreliable. Red meat is often dyed red, get over it.
     
  9. Apr 10, 2012 #8

    Danger

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    I was unaware of its use in early radio. Thanks for the info.
    And yes, it's a fact of human psychology that laughter is infectious. Hearing it prompts your own laugh response, even if there is no humour involved. (It is my personal opinion, though, that for most allegedly funny shows, a "yawn track" would be more appropriate.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  10. Apr 10, 2012 #9

    Pythagorean

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    There has to be some point associated with the laughter. There's plenty of moments in any given sit com where canned laughter would just be awkward or annoying and not evoke humor.
     
  11. Apr 10, 2012 #10

    Danger

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    It is most frequently just annoying.
    I honestly think that this thread is going to end up in one of the sub-forums more attuned to anthropology or sociology, since laughter (and even smiling) are older than recorded civilization and deal with group bonding.
     
  12. Apr 10, 2012 #11
    Hi Dange-er, :shy:
    Now that people are making the shows on the streets they are getting lots of noise from the crowds... " I LIVE here, let me go in." "I Am NOT going three blocks out of my way to the market because you can't afford a studio. " "Get a room!"
     
  13. Apr 10, 2012 #12

    Danger

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    :rofl:

    Hi, honey.
     
  14. Apr 10, 2012 #13
    These days its called "sweetening" and its a science as well as an art. It used to be they used just any generic background of belly laughter that usually started and ended abruptly, but now they can add even the distinctive laughter of individuals who might get a punchline later then the rest of the crowd. Usually they test such things on theater audiences to find out what general rules to apply to mixing.

    My favorite meditation album, Environments "Atlantic and Pacific" was developed that way. Its an entirely synthetic album made by mixing white noise to approximate the sound of the surf with a few seagulls thrown in. Instead of waiting for someone to record the perfect 30 minutes of surf they simply generated it digitally and tested the results on theater audiences, tweaked it some more, and tested some more until they got the final results so good it became a best seller.
     
  15. Apr 10, 2012 #14

    Curious3141

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    One of my favourite Calvin and Hobbes strips deals with the sense of humour:

    6.+Sense+of+Humor.gif
     
  16. Apr 10, 2012 #15
    Hey Bubbles!
    Laughter is the release of light in the (looking for word that will not get me a infraction)... head. Like in Calvin there. Between two extremes.
    Love that mid point. What do you scientists call that point?
     
  17. Apr 10, 2012 #16

    Danger

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    I'll wait fora scientist to answer that. I ain't one. :redface:
     
  18. Apr 11, 2012 #17
    I've watched hundreds of episodes of Gilligan's Island yet I can't remember if there were canned laugh tracks. I really want to say there were but I'm not hearing them in my memory.

    The Munsters were brimming with them. Made Herman Munster about 100 times funnier than he otherwise would have been.
     
  19. Apr 11, 2012 #18
    Apparently, I’m not very funny but I crack myself up. :approve:

    I prefer the pattern recognition theory and I too, feel that “Americans don't do irony."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3433375.stm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories_of_humor
     
  20. Apr 11, 2012 #19
    Humor is a topic in catastrophe theory. Here's a joke you may already know. Three people walk into a bar. The first one sets a pattern. The second one reinforces that pattern. The third one breaks the pattern. Get's 'em every time.
     
  21. Apr 11, 2012 #20
    My own theory is laughter is nature's way of preventing the brain from crashing like a computer running a badly written program. It has elements of expressions of both joy and sorrow as if we can't quite decide whether to be happy or sad. If worst comes to worst, we just laugh until the system is prompted to reset itself by the sheer physical strain.
     
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