Here are answers to some of your Friday questions.
velvet goldmine wondered this last week:
know that even shows filled before a live audience sometimes used to
"sweeten" them with recorder laughs. But there's this one man's laugh
that you hear on TONS of shows from the 70s, from MTM to Taxi. You know
the one I mean? First there's a startled "Haw!" as the setup gets
underway, then this extended "Haw Haw Haw..." when the joke reaches its
Why in the
world would they keep using this familiar, even annoying laugh? And if
by chance it was the same guy at all the tapings -- say, a superfan, or a
self-impressed writer -- why wasn't he muzzled?
less of an answer than a confirmation. As several people correctly
mentioned in the comments section, the distinctive laugh you hear
belongs to James L. Brooks (pictured above). It’s less annoying when
you realize it’s genuine. And when he laughs at something I’ve said or written, it’s sheer music.
are also two very distinctive laughers on the last seven years of
CHEERS. Phoef Sutton and Bill Steinkellner. I can’t describe them but
watch any episode from those middle and later years and you’ll know
what I mean.
Jim Stickford asks:
the procedure for deciding what particular line to use. I saw Carl
Reiner in an interview years ago and he said one of the reasons he
stayed in the writer's room for Your Show of Shows was that he could
type, which was a big deal in the days before computers and
photocopiers. When the writers threw out lines, Carl picked the one he
liked best and typed it in.
Is there a procedure? Is it decided by the show runner? Do you vote on it?
either the showrunner or the person designated to run the room in the
showrunner’s absence. Someone has to have the final say otherwise you
have the scene in MAN OF STEEL with all the people running through the
streets crazed. Although, wait a minute. It's like that normally.
From Jaime J. Weinman:
you prefer writing sitcom episodes with a tag before the closing
credits (M*A*S*H) or episodes that have no tags and end the episode with
the second act (Cheers)?
what are the reasons for having tags or not having tags: is it usually
network policy (like in the '80s when almost none of NBC's sitcoms used
tags), or is it sometimes the showrunner's decision?
are those little two minute scenes at the end of sitcoms. They serve
the purpose of rewarding the viewer for staying through the last spot
break. Some shows have them, others don’t. It depends on their format
and needs of their network. There seem to be fewer today as networks
are going more to a three-act format -- again, all in the cause of
audience maintenance; none in the cause of better storytelling.
MUCH prefer writing tags to the teasers we employed on CHEERS. At
least with tags you could draw upon content established in the episode
and just do a call-back. Teasers were completely independent of the
story that followed. The Charles Brothers thought it would be novel and
help establish the world of the bar. They were right of course, but
teasers were a bitch to pull out of our ass every week.
What’s your question???