In the past few years, laugh tracks have been at the end of a lot of criticism. For “I Love Lucy,” the laughs were very real and authentic during the live recording of the show.
In fact, one laugh that occurred during the live recording lasted for so long that it later had to be edited.
‘I Love Lucy’ Longest Laugh Recorded
Lucy’s crazy antics, typically involving her best friend Ethel dragged along, had always given audiences a good laugh.
In one episode, Lucy hid eggs in her outfit and so did Ethel. The episode was called “Lucy Does the Tango” and appeared in season 6 of the series. When they walk into the house, Ricky says he wants to practice the tango. Lucy attempts to keep two feet apart and even tries to scurry away. She ends up having to do a real authentic tango.
Obviously, fresh eggs and the tango do not mix. The result was a very egg-soaked blouse for Lucy.
Meanwhile, the audience had erupted into a fit of laughter. The laugh lasted for 65 seconds and had to be partially edited out for the final recorded version that was aired on television.
According to Mental Floss, the scene was partially improv. While they practiced the scene before, none of the actors had used actual eggs. That means when the eggs broke and caused a runny, gooey mess, everyone on stage could have a real and authentic reaction to the feeling. Especially Lucille Ball.
Some people claim that this is actually the longest authentic laugh recorded in television history. That’s a bit of a hard metric to measure, however. “I Love Lucy” fans like to believe they have that record.
Other TV Laughs and Laugh Tracks
While “I Love Lucy” has one of the longest laughs recorded, it may not be the longest ever.
According to Medium, on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” the audience had laughed for more than four minutes straight. On April 19, 1965, Ed Ames was on the show to discuss his role on the show “Daniel Boone.” On the show, characters were pretty handy with a hatchet.
Ames proceeded to show Carson how to throw a tomahawk at an onstage target that looked like a cowboy. It landed directly on the cowboy’s groin area with the handle pointing straight up.
Carson first says “I didn’t even know you were Jewish!” and then eventually follows up with “I couldn’t hurt him any more than you did” when Ames asks if he wants to try.
Shows like “I Love Lucy,” “The Tonight Show,” and even “The Dick Van Dyke Show” all relied on live and authentic laughs. However, Charley Douglass would eventually work to create the laugh track to control when bursts of laughter happened in sitcoms. He claimed audiences never laughed at the right moments or were too loud.
According to BBC, he would tamper with the audience’s reactions and ultimately created an unnatural effect. It first debuted on “The Hank McCune Show” in 1950 and is used for several sitcoms today. It has been receiving criticism since its arrival in the television industry.