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Flight Into Terror: the audience reactions

You might remember an earlier post on the subject of the riotous audience reaction to the Flight Into Terror episode of Father Ted. It does seem to have a pretty fantastic joke-to-applause rate, which makes it stand out not only among Ted episodes, but among episodes of any sitcom as well. Why the huge reaction?

Well, for no other reason than the fact that I wanted to watch it again, I figured I'd go through and see how many times the audience not only laughed at a joke, but was moved to applause. (For timing purposes, know that the credits end about 33 seconds into the show, and so that should be considered the true starting point of the episode.)

:01:11 Father Jack punches Father O'Shea
:04:18 (small) "You have used one inch of sticky tape. God bless you."
:05:19 (medium) "He's laughing because someone tried to make a phone call on the telephone."
:05:37 A Mary statuette pops up on Ted's souvenir bank
:06:18 (small) Ted distracts Dougal by squeezing the joke telephone
:07:06 Father Larry Duff has been trampled by a herd of stampeding donkeys
:07:35 (small) Ted and Father Fay discuss Michael Barrymore
:07:56 (small) Father Fay inflates a life vest
:08:26 Dramatic pulses on Dougal and the DO NOT PRESS button
:09:18 (small) "And yes, I am blind as a matter of fact."
:09:42 (small) "I suppose in your case it'd be a fifth sense, since you've only got the four."
:14:03 Father Gallaher: "Shouldn't we just have a bit of an old pray? Maybe God will help us...and..."
:14:55 (medium) Dougal pretends to know what Ted means when he describes the transformation of his fear into affirmative action
:16:02 (small) Father Fay reads his essay
:16:39 (small) Father Flynn reveals his self-portrait
:17:09 (medium) Father Flynn is told the reason for the essay competition
:17:29 Father Jack and the drinks trolley abscond with the parachutes
:19:23 Ted holds up the joke telephone and says, "All your problems are over."
:20:30 "Can I still be a priest?"
:21:03 (small) "You have used three inches of sticky tape. God bless you."
:22:00 Reveal of Ted clinging to the wheel
:22:10 Mrs. Doyle's airplane-shaped sandwiches
:22:33 Father Jack and the drinks trolley in a tree
:23:18 Fathers Cave and Gallaher share a quiet, awkward moment

"Small" indicates that there were only one or two people heard applauding. "Medium" indicates a few people, but nothing widespread. All others are great big honking full-on audience applause.

That's twenty-four instances of spontaneous applause during one single episode of a sitcom. Got that? It averages out to one applause-worthy joke every minute. This isn't my favorite episode of Ted, but is there another episode of anything that can rival this applause frequency?

About this entry


I bloody love that episode so much.

By Seb
September 28, 2007 @ 10:36 am

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This is fascinating. I too wonder what it is about that episode that made people laugh *quite* so much - although I think the idea that most of it was shot in front of an audience could be something to do with it. (Although the episode of The IT Crowd that's had the most laughs from the audience - including me - was The Work Outing, which - apart from the first couple of office scenes - was entirely shot on location...)

Wonder what the most laugh-ridden episode of Red Dwarf is? Polymorph is the obvious answer, but then that's just one scene. Marooned, perhaps?

By John Hoare
September 28, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

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I reckon it'll be a series VI one.

By Seb
September 28, 2007 @ 5:48 pm

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To be honest I had the idea years ago to go through every episode of Dwarf and do a similar rundown for applause-worthy jokes. I was curious which episode would have the most, but also which character.

I intended to count the seconds, too...but then I discovered women.

By Miguel Sanchez
September 28, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

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It's great that they left the applause in. Many shows would cut most of it, if possible. Flight Into Terror I think was this riotous partly because of the setup with so many people being on stage. That in itself is quite a funny situation for a studio sitcom, and it probably gave the sense of something bigger going on (hence bigger laughs). The actors/extras were maybe quite rowdy and interacting with the audience between takes. Also, it helped that Ted was at it's peak here.

Something I've found is that audience reactions can heighten when the situation in a particular episode differs from the norm. I've been told that this happens because the audience is suddenly a little wary and needs to reassure themselves by laughing louder at their favourite show. This could be comparable to laughing hysterically at your friends' jokes when you're in front of strangers. i.e. unconsciously showing off. I think this could explain many of the laughs on the VIII recordings.

By performingmonkey
September 29, 2007 @ 3:39 am

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