The Okeh laughing record

According to “Humorous reflections on laughing records” by Abigail Cooke (ARSC journal 32/2 [winter 2001], pp. 232–242, three types of sound recordings involving laughter were produced between 1904 and 1923: (1) laughing songs, in which stylized laughter is integrated into the song; (2) spoken comedy routines with laughing audiences; and (3) laughing records, in which apparently genuine laughter spirals out of control.

The classic model for the latter genre, The Okeh laughing record (Okeh, 1922)—which may have originated in a real situation where the recording engineer continued to record a botched session—begins with a man playing a slow, melancholy cornet solo that is quickly interrupted by a woman’s giggle. He continues to play, but she is unable to control herself, and soon is laughing aloud; this causes him to flub a note and join her in laughing, occasionally attempting to continue playing, until the two are utterly hysterical.

Below, The Okeh laughing record.


Filed under Humor, Publication types

5 Responses to The Okeh laughing record

  1. Michael Gnaedig

    You see, Karl Valentin NEVER EVER laughed in his recordings ( similar to Buster Keaton in his movies ). He uttered the most unbelievable and sophisticated nonsense always in a serious manner. This makes that Okeh record so special.

  2. Gene

    I dug my great grandmother’s Columbia Grafonola out of storage after 70 or 80 years. Included with it was a huge stack of records including the Okeh Laughing Record discussed above. In looking around on the web I learned that these laughing records were quite a fad for a while. I had never heard anything like it. It’s hilarious! And really great to hear on the old machine.

  3. Juergen Fischer

    The voices of the laughing record belong to Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt. Valentin,the great Bavarian comic, never laughed in his sketches. This makes the record so unique and hilarious.