Carroll Pratt

Sound Effects Engineer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour interview, Carroll Pratt (1921-2010) talks about his start in feature films at MGM in the sound department where his father worked. He speaks in great detail about the audience reaction (laugh) machine created by engineer Charlie Douglass, for whom Pratt worked after leaving MGM. Pratt describes the device and the types of responses that the machine was capable of doing from whistles to belly laughs. Pratt describes the updated version of the laugh machine, which he created with his brother in the 1970s, when he split from Douglass, and started his own company called Sound One. Pratt talks about providing laugh tracks for numerous television series throughout the years (including the longest laugh he ever recorded, for The Mary Tyler Moore Show), until his retirement from Sound One in the mid-'90s. B-roll consists of a few photos of Pratt at work, and a short video piece in which Pratt shows where he keeps his Emmy Awards. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Philo, California on June 12, 2003.

"A joke is a joke, but I've noticed that the public is more sophisticated now. They don't seem to be hand-fed as they were in the early days. Now, we take the light approach as far as trying to drive home a joke with audience reaction. I think that it's okay to back off a little bit especially on a live-audience show. Go with the show and let them tell you."

Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on working in the sound department for various productions at MGM; on his early experience with television, and on how people at the film studios reacted to it
10:32
On working on sound in the postproduction of I Love Lucy; on mixing sound for The Mickey Mouse Club; on the kind of equipment he used in sound mixing in the early years, and on the professionals he collaborated with
10:04
On the Hollywood Blacklist; on working with sound engineer and laugh track creator Charles Douglas; on the "laugh machine"
07:44

Chapter 2

On the "uh-oh" sound in the laugh track for I Love Lucy; on the mechanics of the laugh track and how it worked; on tailoring a laugh track to a show, using M*A*S*H as an example
11:58
On working with his mentor Charlie Douglas on various shows adding laugh track, and on working with producers; on television critics reaction to the laugh track, and on the purpose of the laugh track
09:50
On his own sense of humor; on how Charlie Douglas worked, and on competition in the laugh track industry
06:17

Chapter 3

On recording audiences for laugh tracks in the early days, and on working with the audience to get reactions; on leaving Charlie Douglas' company, and on striving to for a better quality laugh track; on improving on the laugh track after leaving Charlie Douglas, and on starting his own company
10:49
On providing a laugh track for Hogan's Heroes; on working with Lucille Ball during his career, including The Lucy Show; on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
09:05
On consulting with producers on shows he provided the laugh track for; on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
08:10

Chapter 4

On providing a laugh track for The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show; on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
13:24
On providing a laugh track for Hee Haw, on dealing with regional and ethnic audiences when creating a laugh track, and on creating a laugh track for American shows that have been dubbed into another language; on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
11:43
On providing a laugh track for Soap, which proved a challenge as the show was a soap opera parody, and on providing laugh tracks for Kate & Allie, and Family Ties; on the challenge of providing laugh tracks for animated series
03:28

Chapter 5

On the most important elements of sound design, and on his distaste for digital sound; on recording Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) at which Barbra Streisand is an expert, on what a re-recordist does, and on doing Foley; on providing sports sound effects
09:19
On dealing with the limitations of early television set speakers, and on modifying equipment once the technology improved; on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards; on his retirement, and on leaving his company in good hands
11:16
On his greatest career achievement, and on how many hours of television he'd sound enhanced; on advice to aspiring sound professionals; on how audience laughs have changed and evolved over the decades
08:11

Chapter 6

On how audience reactions have evolved over the decades; on the most common plot lines for situation comedies
07:30
On the possibility of the laugh track becoming obsolete; on what awards, including the Emmy Award, have meant to him in his career; on how he'd like to be remembered
03:02
On b-roll pictures from his career- with a laugh track machine; 1989 at Warner Bros. having done Love Boat; mid-'80s with his laugh track machine; at a screening at Warner Bros.; winning an Emmy Award; with his Emmy Awards at his home
03:12
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

Barney Miller

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29

Benson

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29

Beverly Hillbillies, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26

Bewitched

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
03:35

Brady Bunch, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
03:35

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:33

Eight Is Enough

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards
05:30

Family Ties

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Soap, which proved a challenge as the show was a soap opera parody, and on providing laugh tracks for Kate & Allie, and Family Ties Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Soap, which proved a challenge as the show was a soap opera parody, and on providing laugh tracks for Kate & Allie, and Family Ties
02:06

Fawlty Towers

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing the laugh track for The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart (which he characterizes as a take-off on Fawlty Towers)
00:39

Gilligan's Island

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

Green Acres

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26

Happy Days

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

Hee Haw

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hee Haw, on dealing with regional and ethnic audiences when creating a laugh track, and on creating a laugh track for American shows that have been dubbed into another language
06:14

Hogan's Heroes

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hogan's Heroes
02:19

I Dream of Jeannie

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26

I Love Lucy

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on working on sound in the postproduction of I Love Lucy
02:40
Carroll Pratt on the "uh-oh" sound in the laugh track for I Love Lucy
02:16

Jeffersons, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
03:35

Kate & Allie

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Soap, which proved a challenge as the show was a soap opera parody, and on providing laugh tracks for Kate & Allie, and Family Ties
02:06

Kraft Music Hall, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
05:50

Love Boat, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29

Lucy Show, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on working with Lucille Ball during his career, including The Lucy Show
02:20

M*A*S*H

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on tailoring a laugh track to a show, using M*A*S*H as an example
02:29

Mama's Family

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
03:35

Mickey Mouse Club, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on mixing sound for The Mickey Mouse Club
02:31

Mork & Mindy

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29

My Favorite Martian

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

My Three Sons

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26

Odd Couple, The (1970-75)

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
05:50

Partridge Family, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
05:50

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
05:50

Soap

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Soap, which proved a challenge as the show was a soap opera parody, and on providing laugh tracks for Kate & Allie, and Family Ties
02:06

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

Steve Allen Show, The (1968-72)

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
05:50

Taxi

View Show Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29
Topics

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards
05:31
Carroll Pratt on what awards, including the Emmy Award, have meant to him in his career
00:47

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on the Hollywood Blacklist
02:26

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on the Hollywood Blacklist
02:26

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on dealing with the limitations of early television set speakers, and on modifying equipment once the technology improved
03:18

Television Industry

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on the Hollywood Blacklist
02:26
Carroll Pratt on television critics reaction to the laugh track, and on the purpose of the laugh track
05:25
Carroll Pratt on his retirement, and on leaving his company in good hands
02:27
Professions

Sound Mixer

View Profession
Carroll Pratt on the kind of equipment he used in sound mixing in the early years, and on the professionals he collaborated with
04:53
Carroll Pratt on the "laugh machine"
02:54
Carroll Pratt on the mechanics of the laugh track and how it worked
07:13
Carroll Pratt on tailoring a laugh track to a show, using M*A*S*H as an example
02:29
Carroll Pratt on recording audiences for laugh tracks in the early days, and on working with the audience to get reactions
05:33
Carroll Pratt on improving on the laugh track after leaving Charlie Douglas, and on starting his own company
01:44
Carroll Pratt on consulting with producers on shows he provided the laugh track for
02:18
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hee Haw, on dealing with regional and ethnic audiences when creating a laugh track, and on creating a laugh track for American shows that have been dubbed into another language
06:14
Carroll Pratt on the challenge of providing laugh tracks for animated series
01:20
Carroll Pratt on the most important elements of sound design, and on his distaste for digital sound
03:37
Carroll Pratt on recording Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) at which Barbra Streisand is an expert, on what a re-recordist does, and on doing Foley
04:31
Carroll Pratt on providing sports sound effects
01:11
Carroll Pratt on dealing with the limitations of early television set speakers, and on modifying equipment once the technology improved
03:18
Carroll Pratt on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards
05:30
Carroll Pratt on advice to aspiring sound professionals
00:39
Carroll Pratt on how audience laughs have changed and evolved over the decades
05:16
Carroll Pratt on how audience reactions have evolved over the decades
03:47

Sound Professionals

View Profession
Carroll Pratt on the kind of equipment he used in sound mixing in the early years, and on the professionals he collaborated with
04:53
Carroll Pratt on the "laugh machine"
02:54
Carroll Pratt on the mechanics of the laugh track and how it worked
07:13
Carroll Pratt on tailoring a laugh track to a show, using M*A*S*H as an example
02:29
Carroll Pratt on recording audiences for laugh tracks in the early days, and on working with the audience to get reactions
05:33
Carroll Pratt on improving on the laugh track after leaving Charlie Douglas, and on starting his own company
01:44
Carroll Pratt on consulting with producers on shows he provided the laugh track for
02:18
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hee Haw, on dealing with regional and ethnic audiences when creating a laugh track, and on creating a laugh track for American shows that have been dubbed into another language
06:14
Carroll Pratt on the challenge of providing laugh tracks for animated series
01:20
Carroll Pratt on the most important elements of sound design, and on his distaste for digital sound
03:37
Carroll Pratt on recording Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) at which Barbra Streisand is an expert, on what a re-recordist does, and on doing Foley
04:31
Carroll Pratt on providing sports sound effects
01:11
Carroll Pratt on dealing with the limitations of early television set speakers, and on modifying equipment once the technology improved
03:18
Carroll Pratt on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards
05:30
Carroll Pratt on advice to aspiring sound professionals
00:39
Carroll Pratt on how audience laughs have changed and evolved over the decades
05:16
Carroll Pratt on how audience reactions have evolved over the decades
03:47
Genres

Animation

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on the challenge of providing laugh tracks for animated series
01:20

Children's Programming

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on mixing sound for The Mickey Mouse Club
02:31

Comedy Series

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on working on sound in the postproduction of I Love Lucy
02:40
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hogan's Heroes
02:19
Carroll Pratt on working with Lucille Ball during his career, including The Lucy Show
02:19
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
04:26
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Kraft Music Hall, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Odd Couple, and The Partridge Family
05:50
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:14
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
03:35
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
05:29
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Soap, which proved a challenge as the show was a soap opera parody, and on providing laugh tracks for Kate & Allie, and Family Ties
02:08
Carroll Pratt on the most common plot lines for situation comedies
03:43

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:14
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Mama's Family, and The Bob Newhart Show, and on not getting screen credit for his work
03:35
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hee Haw, on dealing with regional and ethnic audiences when creating a laugh track, and on creating a laugh track for American shows that have been dubbed into another language
06:14

Sports

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on providing sports sound effects
01:10
People

Lucille Ball

View Person Page
Carroll Pratt on working with Lucille Ball during his career, including The Lucy Show
02:19

Charlie Douglas

View Person Page
Carroll Pratt on working with sound engineer and laugh track creator Charles Douglas
02:24
Carroll Pratt on working with his mentor Charlie Douglas on various shows adding laugh track, and on working with producers
04:25
Carroll Pratt on how Charlie Douglas worked, and on competition in the laugh track industry
04:56
Carroll Pratt on leaving Charlie Douglas' company, and on striving to for a better quality laugh track
03:29

Dick Van Dyke

View Interview Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:33

Mary Tyler Moore

View Interview Page
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show
04:33

Barbra Streisand

View Person Page
Carroll Pratt on recording Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) at which Barbra Streisand is an expert, on what a re-recordist does, and on doing Foley
04:31

All Interviews

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