A strange thing happened this weekend on 'Saturday Night Live.' As host Hugh Laurie began his opening monologue -- and after the applause from his introduction had died down -- a second, quieter track of seemingly canned cheers and applause continued as Laurie spoke, only to abruptly fade out several seconds later.
Yes, it's subtle. And yes, like you, my first instinct was to write it off as simply a clumsy audio mix of the actual live audience. But if you listen to it carefully, there's something about the timing and ferocity of those last four or five seconds of applause that just seems off. UPDATE: The fact that NBC removed the suspect audio from the west coast feed of the show seems to back up our suspicions (Defamer has just posted a clip of the same sequence as it was broadcast in LA).
And while it's not unusual for pre-recorded television shows to "sweeten" the applause or laughter recorded from a live studio audience, it would seem a most disingenuous move for 'SNL.' In fact, in distancing himself from the Ashlee Simpson lip-syncing incident two years ago, 'SNL' creator Lorne Michaels told '60 Minutes' that had he known she'd planned to lip sync, he would have said stopped her, saying that pre-recorded audio goes against the show's essence of being live.
So is 'SNL' sweetening its live audio? And if so, can we assume this includes laughter, in addition to applause?