Photo: WikiMedia Commons
Canned laughter is a staple of TV sitcoms from Bewitched to Cheers.But comedians have used fake laughter since the days of Shakespeare, according to a television historian.
The historian, Ben Glenn II, was interviewed by Mike Sacks for his book “And Here’s the Kicker…Conversations With Top humour Writers About Their Craft.” Here’s what he had to say about the origins of fake laughter:
“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.”
Glenn also talks about the canned laughter box, invented by a man named Charles Rolland Douglass. He charged producers $100 a day for use of his machine. Douglass’ associates were sworn to secrecy and won’t speak publicly about his methods more than 50 years later.
Read the full interview here.
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