‘I Love Lucy’: The Story Behind the ‘Uh-Oh’ Often Heard From the Live Audience

by Katie Maloney

What happens when your mom attends the live-taping of your show? You get a laugh track that lasts decades. At least, that was the case for I Love Lucy.

The sound engineer for I Love Lucy was Glen Glenn and in the 1960s and ‘70s his company was one of the leading providers of laugh tracks for TV sitcoms. Where did he get some of his best pre-taped laughter? If you guessed, I Love Lucy, you’re correct. But there was one unique sound that stood out in the flood of laughter – an “uh-oh.” Lucille Ball’s mother, DeDe Ball attended every taping of I Love Lucy. She was so riveted by the show that anytime Lucy stepped into a precarious situation, Dede would say aloud, “Uh-oh.” And no one was going to tell Lucille Ball’s mom to quiet down. So, for the next decade, Dede’s “uh-oh” could be heard on laugh tracks for shows she’d never even seen.

I Love Lucy laugh track.

The Longest Laugh On I Love Lucy Lasted 65 Seconds

The longest laugh recorded on the show took place during the 173rd episode titled “Lucy Does the Tango.” After the chickens don’t lay any eggs, Ricky threatens to get out of the egg business. But this would mean that the Mertzes would have to move back to the city. In an attempt to save her best friend, Lucy buys several dozen eggs. She plans to pretend that the eggs are homegrown. Before she’s able to stash the eggs, Ricky returns home. Lucy tries to hide the eggs in her pockets and in her clothes. But her plan is foiled when Ricky asks her to rehearse their tango routine before their performance at the PTA. For the last move, Ricky quickly pulls Lucy tight into him and all the eggs crack all over both of them. This resulted in the longest laugh in I love Lucy history – clocked at 65 seconds. However, for broadcast, the reaction was cut in half.

The longest laugh on I Love Lucy

Lucille Ball’s Childhood Inspired Her Comedy

Lucille Ball didn’t have the easiest upbringing. Her father died when she was only four years old. After her father’s passing, Lucy’s mom moved the family in with her parents in Jamestown, NY. The family struggled financially for many years before Lucile found success on I Love Lucy. During an interview, Lucille’s daughter shared her thoughts on her mother’s upbringing.

“The worst thing you can do is suppress pain, and she made a career out of suppressing all her pain,” said Lucille’s daughter. “She was really stuck at a young age emotionally, and she probably stopped any sort of serious emotional growth around that five or six-year-old stage. And yet, that’s why she was such a great comic. Because she could identify with that childlike humor and youthful craziness … An overcoming of that pain in performing, if you’re lucky, gives you a gift that you can give to people.”