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How Jerry Seinfeld Really Felt About Laugh Tracks On Seinfeld

Since the 1950s, many sitcoms have used laugh tracks to ensure the right amount of laughter at the right moments for the audience at home. According to BBC, the laugh track was invented by CBS sound engineer Charley Douglass. He apparently felt that audiences often laughed at the wrong moment, not the right one, which spurred the invention. Since its debut on "The Hank McCune Show," the laugh track has been featured in countless network comedies, including heavy hitters like "Friends," "M*A*S*H," and "Seinfeld."

Regarding the latter, it turns out that "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David didn't want a live audience at all, and he made his issues with it known to NBC. The network won out, and a live audience was used for most "Seinfeld" episodes, forcing a laugh track. Seinfeld himself was a little conflicted about using canned laughter in his series but had different thoughts about it being used on other shows.

Jerry Seinfeld felt the laugh track was necessary

In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Jerry Seinfeld admitted that "Seinfeld" used both genuine laughs and a laugh track for the series' episodes. "This was something we struggled with quite often on Seinfeld," the comedian admitted. "Because we had real laughs on the scenes that were shot in front of an audience, but then we would shoot other scenes that were not in front of the audience (which didn't have any laughs), and then it felt like a bit of a mismatch, so we tried to compromise and put in a subtle laugh track."

While it doesn't appear like Seinfeld necessarily wanted to use a laugh track on his titular show, it was a necessity due to how the sitcom was filmed. If you listen very closely to those moments of laughter from the audience, real or not, you might be able to spot the instances where the chuckles definitely come from a live studio audience. One Redditor pointed out to Seinfeld that there's a moment in "The Puffy Shirt" (Season 5, Episode 2) where someone can be heard yelling "Oh my god!" while the rest of the audience laughs. This almost certainly is not from a laugh track and comes from the very end of the episode when Jerry and Kramer (Michael Richards) are asked for change from two homeless men wearing puffy shirts. 

When it comes to laugh tracks as a whole, not just on "Seinfeld," the comedian doesn't think they're all that bad. " I think that one of the fun things of a sitcom is feeling like you're in an audience even though you're home, watching it by yourself. I have to say I like some sitcoms with them and some without. Depends on the show," he also revealed in the AMA.