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Charlie and the Laughter Factory

Ever wonder where canned laughter came from? Well, a man named Charley Douglass and his invention the Laff Box [sic] was responsible.

The one-of-a-kind device was tightly secured with padlocks, stood more than two feet tall, and operated like an organ. Douglass used a keyboard to select the style, gender and age of the laugh as well as a foot pedal to time the length of the reaction. Inside the padlocked concoction was an endless array of recorded chuckles, yocks, and belly laughs; exactly 320 laughs on 32 tape loops, 10 to a loop. Each loop contained 10 individual audience laughs spliced end-to-end, whirling around simultaneously waiting to be cued up. There was also a 60 second "titter" track in the loop, which consisted to individual people laughing quietly. This "titter" track was used to quiet down a laugh and was always playing in the background. When Douglass inserted a hearty laugh, the titter track was played along with it to smooth out the final mix. This titter track was receive minor changes every few months. A man's deep laugh would be swapped out for a new woman laugh, or a high-pitched woman's giggle would be replaced with a man's snicker.

Witness! the apex of simulated mirth with the Laff Box:


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