Carroll Pratt

Sound Effects Engineer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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."

People Talking About ...
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
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
On the Hollywood Blacklist; on working with sound engineer and laugh track creator Charles Douglas; on the "laugh machine"

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
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
On his own sense of humor; on how Charlie Douglas worked, and on competition in the laugh track industry

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
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
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

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
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
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

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
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
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

Chapter 6

On how audience reactions have evolved over the decades; on the most common plot lines for situation comedies
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
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
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

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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

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

Benson

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Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson

Beverly Hillbillies, The

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Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie

Bewitched

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Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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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

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

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

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

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

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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

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

Fawlty Towers

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

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

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

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

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

Hogan's Heroes

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

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

I Love Lucy

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy Show, The

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

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

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

Mickey Mouse Club, The

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
Topics

Emmy Awards

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

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on the Hollywood Blacklist

Technological Innovation

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

Television Industry

View Topic
Carroll Pratt on the Hollywood Blacklist
Carroll Pratt on television critics reaction to the laugh track, and on the purpose of the laugh track
Carroll Pratt on his retirement, and on leaving his company in good hands
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
Carroll Pratt on the "laugh machine"
Carroll Pratt on the mechanics of the laugh track and how it worked
Carroll Pratt on tailoring a laugh track to a show, using M*A*S*H as an example
Carroll Pratt on recording audiences for laugh tracks in the early days, and on working with the audience to get reactions
Carroll Pratt on improving on the laugh track after leaving Charlie Douglas, and on starting his own company
Carroll Pratt on consulting with producers on shows he provided the laugh track for
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
Carroll Pratt on the challenge of providing laugh tracks for animated series
Carroll Pratt on the most important elements of sound design, and on his distaste for digital sound
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
Carroll Pratt on providing sports sound effects
Carroll Pratt on dealing with the limitations of early television set speakers, and on modifying equipment once the technology improved
Carroll Pratt on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards
Carroll Pratt on advice to aspiring sound professionals
Carroll Pratt on how audience laughs have changed and evolved over the decades
Carroll Pratt on how audience reactions have evolved over the decades

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
Carroll Pratt on the "laugh machine"
Carroll Pratt on the mechanics of the laugh track and how it worked
Carroll Pratt on tailoring a laugh track to a show, using M*A*S*H as an example
Carroll Pratt on recording audiences for laugh tracks in the early days, and on working with the audience to get reactions
Carroll Pratt on improving on the laugh track after leaving Charlie Douglas, and on starting his own company
Carroll Pratt on consulting with producers on shows he provided the laugh track for
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
Carroll Pratt on the challenge of providing laugh tracks for animated series
Carroll Pratt on the most important elements of sound design, and on his distaste for digital sound
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
Carroll Pratt on providing sports sound effects
Carroll Pratt on dealing with the limitations of early television set speakers, and on modifying equipment once the technology improved
Carroll Pratt on providing audience reaction enhancement for live shows like The Emmy Awards
Carroll Pratt on advice to aspiring sound professionals
Carroll Pratt on how audience laughs have changed and evolved over the decades
Carroll Pratt on how audience reactions have evolved over the decades
Genres

Animation

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

Children's Programming

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

Comedy Series

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on working on sound in the postproduction of I Love Lucy
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Hogan's Heroes
Carroll Pratt on working with Lucille Ball during his career, including The Lucy Show
Carroll Pratt on providing laugh track for Green Acres, Bewitched, Beverly Hillbillies, My Three Sons, and I Dream of Jeannie
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
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
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
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for Barney Miller, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy, Eight is Enough, Taxi, and Benson
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 the most common plot lines for situation comedies

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
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
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

Sports

View Genre
Carroll Pratt on providing sports sound effects
People

Lucille Ball

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

Charlie Douglas

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

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

Mary Tyler Moore

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Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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

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