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CBSRMT Episode Information
General Laughter
In lieu of a suicide confession, a distressed actress chooses to record her final breath as well as the motives for her actions. Being a consummate actress, she sets the perfect scene but quickly learns that even the best laid plans can go awry.
Air Dates:
First Run - February 25, 1976
Repeat - July 16, 1976
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9 Responses to Episode 0437

I've mentioned this one a few times before, in a few different contexts, but General Laughter is a funny, if not unnerving episode. It's got Mercedes McCambridge. If you've not heard it before, it's the story of an actress who tape records her suicide as it happens, but she just can't keep from making mistakes, and telling jokes along the way. It's mostly her in the episode, but Mandel Kramer and Sam Gray are also in the show. I won't give much more away, but when reading Mercedes autobiography The Quality Of Mercy, she did say that the nails thing, which you'll have to listen to the show for, actually did happen to her, when she tried suicide on New Year's Eve in the early sixties. Because Elspeth Eric was a friend of Mercedes, I'm quite sure that this episode has been based on maybe more than just that one nails thing. Another member of this group, when I mentioned General Laughter last time, said he wondered why he felt uncomfortable when listening to this episode, while another said he was laughing with the jokes. See what you think. It's February 25, 1976.

I thought "General laughter" was actually one of the saddest episodes. Even though some of the jokes were funny in of themselves, the character was so pathetically tragic, she actually made me feel more like crying than laughing.

I have been addicted to these shows now for about 4 yrs. (I am 52 and remember listening to them under the covers at night so my parents wouldn't know I was awake.) I am now most of the way through my 3rd time listening to them all for the. I say all this to make a point about this episode. i have begun keeping a list of episodes I think my wife would enjoy. "General laughter" was the first episode I added to this list. It's quite a performance.

The wife of a policeman records herself in the act of committing suicide. Brilliantly and appropriately played by Mercedes McCambridge.

I have a love/hate relationship with Mercedes McCambridge as an actress, but she never fails to keep me riveted to my seat. Good episode.

Straight drama, if somewhat overwrought. Was confused at first - I think there's another CBSRMT episode were an attempted murder or murder is made to look like a suicide via doctored tape recording. The idea for that plot may have started here. Mercedes is a very edgy actress, figures she's the voice of the demon in "The Exorcist"

I love that Mercedes McCambridge isn't trying to play a perky ingenue in this one. Her gravelly voice works well with this character.

Wow, if you're depressed, don't listen to this one -- whew! It was interesting Matthew's comment at the top because it seemed to me that Mercedes knew the emotions she was portraying here, inside-out. Either that or she's one hell of an actress. Or both. I think both. Whatever the case, the entire plot of this thing is a woman tape-recording her suicide note, with her husband commenting on it now and again, and it's sad and bleak, with bits of humor that are objectively funny, but don't make you laugh. This is Mercedes at her best.

I found this to be an interesting story, but I didn't really find the jokes funny as others did (but that's probably just me). The concept of audio taping your suicide may have been somewhat unique at that time, but now with the internet I'm sure there are plenty of video taped ones. Most suicides don't even leave notes from what I understand. Anyway, still a pretty good episode that shows something about how some suicides likely feel.

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