Canned Laughter

Origin of the Laugh Track

Canned laughter was first added to television programming in 1950 on NBC's "The Hank McCune Show" [source: Farnham]. It was the brainchild of engineer Charley Douglas, who, 40 years later, received an Emmy for his contribution [Source: AAT].

No, the next type of laughter on our list isn't something you can find on a grocery store isle. Canned laughter is another term for what's commonly referred to as the "laugh track."

Canned laughter is real laughter -- it just happens to be laughter taken completely out of one context and placed in another [source: Farnham].

Because of laughter's social connection, television producers understand that placing canned laughter over the soundtrack to programming increases the chance of an audience finding humor in the material -- or at least laughing in response to it [source: Farnham].

Of course, the laughter has to "sound" genuine to the audience; humans can quickly tell the difference between genuine and fake laughter.