If you’ve ever watched an episode of Friends without the laugh track, you’ll understand why sound engineer Charles Douglass felt the need to create the Audience Response Duplicator – also known as the ‘Laff Box’.
You see, before television, comedy was enjoyed by a live audience.
When producers in the early days of TV went to replicate this atmosphere by introducing recorded crowd reactions to their soundtracks, they came up against a problem: audiences didn’t always pick up on jokes.
To fill in the gaps, Douglass fashioned his one-of-a-kind device: it was two feet tall and it operated like an organ.
Only immediate family members knew what it looked like, and at one time, the laff box was called “the most sought after but well-concealed box in the world.”