When watching a sitcom and the punch line has been dropped, have you ever wondered whom are those people laughing? Are they even real? So many sitcom shows use a live studio audience when filming or they use something called a “laugh track”. Live television shows such as “Saturday Night Live” also have their own live audience, but the huge difference between these two is the fact that the audience in “Saturday Night Live” might become interactive with the show whereas a sitcom follows a storyline that doesn’t include the audience. After learning about studio audiences whether it’s a sitcom or live production, finding your way onto a set could be a lot easier than it seems.
In the beginning of television, specifically comedies, the shows were typically filmed on front of a live “studio audience”. Simply meaning that there is an audience present during the taping of all or part of the show. The audience was used to help prompt the viewer’s at home. Without this producers, directors etc. were afraid the show would “fall-flat” (TVTropes). Eventually they created the “Laugh Track,” also known as ‘canned laughter.” This artificial audience quickly became overused for every punch line and joke. Around the 1970’s sitcoms switched from single-camera to a movie-style format with a studio audience. This opened up real live laughter again which apparently helped the writers to create better jokes. The “laugh track” is typically a computer recorded laugh, but it can also mean that it is actually recorded genuine laugh response to the show’s humor. Fun fact: in Latin America they actually pay off-screen people to “laugh on command whenever the comedic situation merits a laugh” (TVTropes).
There are two main types of audiences for the filming of a show, the studio audience for sitcoms and on-camera audience for a live show The on-camera audience is present obviously for a live show; such as Tosh.O, American Idol, or the Chelasea Lately Show. For this they use a multi-camera setup that allows a show to be filmed from different angles; this is essential for live television shows.
As mentioned before, studio audience is present for all or part of a show. Their main purpose is to provide applause or laughter for the filmed show. This is differentiated from a live audience because sometimes the live audience will be shown or interacted with during filming. Yet for sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory they have the laughter of the crowd yet they will never show the audience because they are not apart of the story line.
Through numerous shows recorded on TV, majority of them are either filmed in Hollywood or New York. That helps to narrow down at least a couple regions to begin your live laughter search! Each show has their own process in which fans can obtain tickets to the show. For example, to get on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, you can visit the show’s website and if you luck run’s dry there, the next steps is to sign up for e-mail notifications for their availability. Now if you are actually going to being in let’s say New York and possibly near 733 Eleventh Ave, you could try for what is called a “standby ticket.” Just like flying standby, this is how you can get last-minute tickets depending how lucky your are.
For other shows such as Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing” filmed out in Hollywood, your chances are much higher Yes, that’s right. Tim Allen is back for more “small screen magic”(Vankin). All you do is go one a website such as “tvtickets.com” and search for dates that suit yours then request the ticket. This type of showing might be different to sit in on compared to a live show. Now you can watch, or be apart of a TV show with the modern topics and timelines of our generation and feel good knowing that those are real people laughing at all that humor. Not a computer.
Almost every live production you watch with an audience has the chance of finding tickets to get on one, or even for a sitcom. It’s just a matter of finding which sitcoms use a laugh track or a live studio audience. I personally prefer the organic sounds of human laughter to a robotic chuckle.
Hayden, Amy L., and Robin Honig. "Be Part of the Studio Audience." NewYork.com, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
Jackson, Todd. "And Here's The Kicker." Canned Laughter. N.p.n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.
Vankin, Deborah. "Tim Allen's Still Hungry for Sitcom Success."Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 11 Sept. 2011. Web.28 Apr. 2014.