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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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23 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 think you're supposed to feel sorry for the lady. it's not meant to be really funny, even if some of the jokes are funny.


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.

Steve G.

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"

Mike in Grand Rapids

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.


Definitely she was at her best here. Fantastic performance.


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.


I actually enjoyed this episode--I thought it was a change of pace and different.


"General Laughter" should have been rightly titled Extreme Depression. With the actress's aggravating voice and pathetic whining about how her life is so miserable, I couldn't make it past the first 12 minutes listening without having to call up my shrink to save me from pointing a gun to my head. Really, you people liked this?


This is a difficult episode to listen to but well worth it. I feel it describes depression in a person with a macabre sense of humor quite aptly. The husband reminded me of mine.

Cindy Caldwell

This episode is rarity indeed, lol! It's a story by Elspeth Eric that tackles the human psych in a touching, original way. No daddy issues, no therapists listening to weird problems, no stupid character analysis, just raw, human emotion, which speaks for itself. It's a very realistic depiction of a woman struggling with severe depression, and the people who care about her. Also, this has got to be Mercedes McCambridge's best performance that I have heard so far. (I find myself being amazed that she doesn't over act as much this time, lol!) Mandel Kramer as her husband is also very good as well. I love the way they talk with each other with very realistic dialogue and I also find their tape recordings interesting. My very favorite part is when he explains how he sometimes doesn't always love her at the moment when she asks, but he is afraid she would be mad if he told her that, and he wished he could sometimes say "ask me tomorrow." It turns out she isn't mad at his confession because it strikes her funny, lol! It was also evident that the husband cares about his wife very much, but their relationship is depicted in a realistic way. No idealistic, fairy tale love here, but a love that is more like the way people love in real life. I loved the end when he asks if she loves him and she says, "ask me tomorrow." I got a kick out of that, lol!


It was a nice touch to include the doorman and the superintendent as well. I also liked it when the doorman came and said her jokes liven up his day and then her husband told her the same thing. One small complaint, where were the kids, lol? They weren't in the story at all, lol!


The kids were at school. Says so in the dialogue.


Actually, I remembered the ending wrong. She said, "I guess I can get along on that. Ask me again tomorrow." In any case, it was the perfect ending line.


Awful. This is "Must Miss" radio.


From a radio acting perspective, this was an awesome episode. My emotions spun up and down with the story. The nervous laughter and jokes kept me on the brink where I felt bad thinking something funny at a time that was so fragile for the woman. Loved the doorman's spin on her not understanding how she affects the people around her.


Do not miss this one. Unique among the other scripts. Flawlessly performed.


The perfomance was perfect. The joke about the guy in the doctors office was funny only because it was surrounded with so much depression. The writer is one i skipped every episode of hers, because I felt her emotional episodes belonged on a different type of program. THIS EPISODE was perfromed perfectly, by all the actors. Not sure I actually like the episode though, who knows ask me again tomorrow..


Sad and effective episode. I was confused at the beginning by the husband playing the tape for someone -- who? -- and calling it asinine. It made me think the story would go in a different direction. Great performance showing something of what depression is like.


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