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I toured a facility recently and saw a number of abbreviated side workstations connected to one man mixing suites with a mysterious red button cabled box. I asked my tour guide if it was the mixer chair ejection button. The tour guide said that it was for the "laugh man." He said that a laugh man comes in and sweetens production laugh tracks for sitcoms with a collection of SFX he carries with him that contains incredible variations of crowd reactions without identifiable language. (Thus, it can also be used as the M&E laugh track as well.) He says they take about an 1.5 hours to sweeten a 30 minute show and then they are done.

I would have assumed the laugh track would have been created in editorial by the sound editor. I have certainly been charged with that mission before.

Have you ever been a laugh man? Where does one get this mysterious ubiquitous walla? How do you use that red button. Tell me more.

  • So, I actually met a mixer the other day who has worked with a laughman counterpart. Apparently there are not many of them anymore and most times laugh fills are built by sound editors. But, they do exist. Check these articles out about the first laugh man and his famous "Laff Box" from the 50s: andheresthekicker.com/ex_ben_glenn.php griph.net/tag/laff-box – Karol Urban Apr 26 '12 at 3:19
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To add mystery to your quest , once the laugh man has come and gone and the mix is done .. the tone guy is called in. He too comes with a box BUT his is filled with tone. Generally they have various tones in their box and skillfully applies his expertize to the master. and just like that before your can say dolby on ,, he is gone !

  • LOL. Are you sure you aren't a laugh man? – Karol Urban Apr 18 '12 at 19:37
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Check it out! An article about Laughman, Bickelhaupt. Crazy interesting! http://nymag.com/arts/tv/features/laughtracks-2011-12/

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