Being in the Audience

See a TV show being recorded

Although you can’t visit many of the studios here as a tourist, you may be able to get onto a soundstage and see a sitcom or talk show being taped.

Why do they use a live audience? All the laughter is canned isn’t it?

Although some shows use canned (pre-recorded) laughter tracks, most have a live audience. This gives the performers something to respond to, and produces a more natural laughter track.

See below for more about canned laughter.

How long will the recording take?

A half-hour sitcom may take up to four hours to tape. Take some warm clothing as the studio will be air-conditioned.

Why does it take so long?

TV shows have complex setups with multiple cameras, costume changes and even complete set changes. Some sequences may be repeated to fine-tune the writing or delivery.
Many sitcom tapings use a warm-up comic to keep you entertained during the taping and to keep you informed of how things are going.

Can I take food and drink?

Most items won’t be allowed, but many studios will provide a snack and drink halfway through the recording.

Can I take a camera with me?

Studios do not allow any kind of recording equipment. Many will also ban mobile phones. You will probably be searched when you enter the studio facility, so don’t try to smuggle anything in – you’ll be turned away.

Canned Laughter

Which shows used an artificial laugh track?
TV shows like The Monkees (season 1), and animation such as The Pink Panther Show used laugh tracks.
Sitcoms such as I Love Lucy, Friends and The Big Bang Theory used live studio audiences, and supplemented the laughs when necessary.

A mechanical engineer, Charlie Douglass, came up with the Audience Response Duplicator, or Laffbox, to play back taped samples of laughter, at the push of a button. This was in use from the 1950s to early 2000s.