A British scientist explained the function of canned laughter used in TV shows as, “adding laughter to a joke, increases the humour value, no matter how funny or unfunny the joke is.” I Love Lucy (starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Farley), originally released in 1951, used canned laughter. The Honeymooners (starring Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows), which was originally released in 1955 also used canned laughter.
M*A*S*H (starring Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr), which was originally released in 1972, had the creators of the series wanting no canned laughter which was rejected by CBS, although there are episodes where there was no canned laughter. In addition, it was agreed that in surgery, no laughter would be used. When M*A*S*H was released on DVD, the option was added to watch the series with and without canned laughter. One person who commented about watching the series without laughter in the background said, “Hearing each and every one of these words for the first time was a treat.”
With COVID-19 eliminating fans from baseball and football stadiums, canned cheering and boos are used. This seems a derivative of canned laughter
A critical analysis of canned laughter should address the following: 1) Does it add to or detract from a series, and; 2) Can there be an “artistic” way of evaluating when it seems too much or inappropriate from being just the right amount.