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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png This a Useful Notes page. A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes.png

This trope was typed before a live studio audience.


The Studio Audience is an audience that sits behind the cameras and views the show as it is taped or broadcast. They are there to provide feedback to the actors or hosts and give the onstage talent someone to play to.

For a more predictable response, some shows dispense with the studio audience and use a Laugh Track to fill in where an audience 'should' laugh. Unfortunately, at some point, the laugh track was overused to the point that programmes started using "this show was filmed before a live studio audience" as a closing disclaimer[1] just to deny abusing canned laughter.

Some productions which traditionally had a live studio audience have temporarily suspended or curtailed the practice in the aftermath of incidents like the 9/11 attacks or the COVID-19 panic of 2020, leaving the players performing before a camera in an otherwise-empty (or almost-empty) house. The suitability of this measure (as opposed to business as usual, or as opposed to a halt in production) depends on the series; some Game Shows do rely on the device of inviting an audience member to "Come on down! You're the next contestant on (name of programme)!" to the point where playing to an empty house breaks the business model.

There are a few crowd noises that are fairly standard with audiences:

  • Applause
    • In sitcoms, this is sometimes used when a show ends and the credits start or when a character makes a particularly witty joke. It can also occur when a fan-favourite character (or perhaps just a Creator's Pet, if the audience is being coached) makes his first appearance of the episode. Applause is also used when the Special Guest enters the scene, sending the viewers at home the unmistakable message that "you should know who this is."
    • In non-fiction shows, like talk shows, applause is usually prompted by a flashing sign in front of the audience. (This is lampshaded in The Larry Sanders Show, as well as parodied in the first Shrek film.) The audience will be prompted to clap for the opening of the show, the host's introduction, all of the guests' introductions, going in or out of a commercial break, and at the show's close. Spontaneous applause may occur for good jokes, good points, and other things that the audience likes (Dr. Phil giving somebody the smackdown, for instance).
    • During the State of the Union, there's often more clapping than the actual State of the Union speech. There are a number of standing ovations, including at the end. It's particularly amusing when only the President's party stands up and claps, and befuddling (and amusing) when the opposition stands up and claps (like in 2007, when the Democrats once stood up on their own during George W. Bush's speech). Also to look for: the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Court Justices, who remain seated throughout the address while everyone else gets up and down 75-150 times.
      • A word to the wise: An excellent Drinking Game, if you enjoy your politics completely hammered, is to drink at every standing ovation.
    • In Game Shows, applause usually accompanies the description of prizes.
      • And some game shows (particularly the Price is Right), use applause sign type devices to get reaction from the audience.
    • Satirical comedy will occasionally evoke "clapter" (whoops and applause with a bit of laughter) from its audience - this is soundtrack shorthand for "that's so true!", and usually signifies a political joke that's very political and not much of a joke.
  • Cheering
    • The next step up from applause.
    • The Price Is Right encourages wild cheering whenever the prize is "A NEW CAARRRRR!!!!!!"[2]
    • Whenever a celebrity guest stars on a show. But depending on how popular he is with the demographic, it can range from Applause to WooOOOoo!
    • "It's now time to play Mornington Crescent"
      • Speaking of which, the audience usually plays along brilliantly all through Mornington Crescent, gasping and applauding as if every "move" actually means something. Which of course they do.
      • The audience also tends to cheer when Humph announces the playing of One Song to the Tune of Another.
  • Laughter
    • For any show, laughter is obviously for humorous events.
  • Awww
    • For a close-up of a cute baby, a basket of little puppies, a tender moment between two characters, and other golden moments.
  • Ohhh
    • In sitcoms, this is for downer moments. For instance, the son says, "You're not my father!," and we see a shot of the stepdad's hurt expression.
    • In sketch comedy and other light entertainment, this is for jokes that go too far or are Too Soon.
      • Occasionally in topical Panel Shows such as Have I Got News for You, which are prone to Too Soon moments, the panelist who inspired an "Ohhh" will turn to the audience and say "Oh, so <previous offensive joke that they laughed at> is fine, but,.."
      • Paul Merton on said show also calls out the audience when they have a schizophrenic response, such as 'oohing' at black comedy or groaning at an Incredibly Lame Pun only for it to slowly turn back to laughter and clapping.
      • Similarly, mocking the audience for having a Too Soon reaction to something like the sinking of the Titanic.
      • "All right, three times is enough!"
    • Violence/injuries, especially Groin Attacks. Home video/sports blooper shows are often accompanied by one continuous "ohhh" at varying pitches and volumes.
    • Used for particularly bad moments of Cringe Comedy.
  • WooOOOoo (rising and falling tone)
    • This is for romantic moments. Like, after three seasons of Will They Or Won't They, the couple finally have the First Kiss. Or an established couple have a bit of dialog with some innuendo and run upstairs to the bedroom together.
    • Happens when a popular celebrity (most likely Mr. Fanservice) special guest stars on a show.
  • Trouble Brewing (Oooh)
    • Not common, but it occurs in sitcoms when one character challenges another, and the second character takes up the gauntlet.
    • Common on talk shows where the subject matter is really lowbrow. The good-for-nothing boyfriend accuses the skanky girlfriend of sleeping around and she makes a bombshell confession: It was his best friend who knocked her up! Cue the indignant crowd.
    • Also happens whenever something offensive is said. This is usually followed up with something else that makes the whole thing funny in retrospect, cuing laughter or applause.
  • Booing
    • Seldom happens in sitcoms. Booing is an indication of bad writing or bad acting and would never be left in the final show. There may be an exception if the crowd is booing a villain.
      • Known to occur on occasion in live comedy broadcasts. There was a moment in the 1994-1995 season of Saturday Night Live when Weekend Update's Norm MacDonald made repeated "bitch" jokes about Hilary Clinton. The mystery is why booing didn't occur more often, indeed constantly, during that abysmally unfunny season.
      • Similarly, during George W. Bush's first election campaign, he made a heart-centered pun while on Letterman. It was not well-received by the audience, as Letterman had recently--too recently, it seems—returned from having heart surgery.
      • Jay Leno responds to booing on his show by yelling back at the audience. He even has two Catch Phrases for it, "Oh, shut up!" and a sarcastic "Yeah, I'm way out of line!", the latter being used when the audience has a Dude, Not Funny reaction. Conan O'Brien sometimes does this too.
    • In non-fiction shows, booing is for unpopular guests, jokes or topics. On Double Dare, the audience booed when a Spoiler correctly guessed the subject in the bonus round.
    • In talent contests, such as The X Factor/American Idol or Strictly Come Dancing/ Dancing With the Stars, the studio audience boo at any negative criticism of any performances and when the judges give low scores.
    • In Professional Wrestling, this usually accompanies a Heel, and is called "Heel Heat".
    • On Just a Minute, Nicholas Parsons sometimes leaves difficult decisions up to the audience by having them cheer in favor of one panellist and boo in favor of the other. (At other times they've been known to spontaneously boo when someone challenges "unchivalrously" or interrupts a good story, and are usually asked, "Do you not know how this game works?")
    • The Monty Python's Flying Circus Undertaker Sketch was only allowed to be aired under the stipulation that the audience had to boo the sketch. The Pythons, in typical fashion, turned it Up to Eleven and had the audience boo half the lines (with quite a lot of laughter mixed in) and ended the sketch with the audience storming the stage.
      • The booing audience who storm the stage also appear in the Ken Ewing and his Musical Mice sketch in Monty Python's film And Now For Something Completely Different, in response to onstage Animal Cruelty.
      • Something similar happens in-universe on The Young Ones, when Rick technically wins University Challenge for Scumbag College, answering the last question ("Who's been tampering with my question cards?") honestly and correctly ("It was me!"). The outraged audience of Footlights College supporters start booing and throwing teddy bears onto the quiz show's stage.
  • Some shows have specific audience responses:
    • "Jerry! Jerry!" from Jerry Springer.
      • The 'Jerry' call is actually one of the only vocal outburst allowed on the show—aside from general audience rumblings, they audience isn't permitted to taunt or otherwise harass the guests.
    • "Woof, woof, woof" from The Arsenio Hall Show as Arsenio's audience was referred to as "The Dog Pound".
    • "USA! USA!" occasionally on The Colbert Report.
      • The audience on The Colbert Report are referred to as 'the mob' and are an integral part of the show - once, they failed to catch on and were scolded: "You're supposed to chant along with me. That's what mobs do. Read the manual."
      • "Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Ste-phen!"
    • "...And forget it" or any other line like it on any Infomercial.
    • A million character-specific ones for Professional Wrestling, and quite a few situation-specific ones as well, ranging from repeating or singing along to characters' catch-phrases ("R! V! D!"), to meta-references ("She's got herpes!" for WWE valet Lita, a reference to her... promiscuous reputation backstage), to direct commentary on the action ("This is awesome!", "You fucked up!", "Asshole... Asshole..."). Likely, wrestling promotions only put up with this because their "studio audience" are paying customers.
      • Or, even more likely, because the reaction of the crowd ("heat") is an integral part of the way wrestling works.
    • "Nice!"- audience response to the Bruce Forsyth Catch Phrase "Nice to see you, to see you...".
      • ("You get nothing for a pair...") "Not in this game!"
      • ("And what do points mean...?") "Prizes!"
      • Bruce Forsyth owns this trope as far as audience reactions to catch phrases are concerned. He has dozens and they are spread over the many game shows he's hosted.
      • Also frequently mocked on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, where Humphrey Lyttelton would use variations on "points mean prizes" and criticize the audience for being easily led when they joined in.

Humph: If when the music returns you're within a gnat's crochet of the original, teams, I'll be awarding points, and points mean prizes. Crackerjack!
Audience, having nothing else to say: Yaaaaaay!
[beat, then laughter]
Jeremy Hardy: That's how Hitler came to power.

    • "Screw you, Taxpayer!"
    • From Home Improvements Show Within a Show: "Does everybody know what time it is?" "TOOL TIME!" - this was actually filmed using volunteers from Home Improvements own audience each time, not extras. This practice hilariously led to one outtake where the audience volunteers completely forgot to respond.
    • Comedian Rodney Dangerfield's standard "X was so Y" set-up elicited the audience response "How Y was it?"
      • Example:

Dangerfield: This woman was so fat--
Audience: How fat was she?
Dangerfield: When she went swimming she left a ring around the lake, okay?

  • Crying
    • Ancient Greek theatre audiences would have women in the crowd who were instructed to cry during emotional scenes in plays. Look it up.
  • Shouting Out the Answer
    • Severely discouraged on Game Shows relying on trivia knowledge. On some more subjective shows, like The Price Is Right, audience advice is traditional and part of the fun.
    • Panel games, where nothing is really at stake, don't care so much. On a few occasions on QI, some smarty in the audience has shouted out a good answer, and Stephen Fry has given them all a collective score. When this happens it's very likely the audience will win the game, as the real contestants are constantly struggling not to lose points. On one occasion however, they sang along to the (incorrect) German national anthem, and got the buzzer.
      • Although the audience were actually coached in singing the incorrect version, since not enough of them knew it.
  • Crowd Sing-along
    • Whenever a Game Show is introduced ("WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!")
    • Whenever a wrestler says a catch phrase. The Rock had a bunch of them, and he refers to this as "Sing-along Time with The Rock".
  1. Lampshaded in Sha Na Na as ""This show has been previously recorded" followed by "Why? I dunno!"
  2. Lampshaded in a joke where a famous game show host's obituary lists cause of death as being run over by A BRAND NEW CARRR!!!.