Laughing Gas At the Movies

In the early 1800s, there were theaters where people enjoyed a show after inhaling nitrous oxide — laughing gas. On average, there was 30 gallons of nitrous oxide administered to all who desired it. Men were invited from the audience to protect those under the influence of the gas from injuring themselves or others. Ads promised that those under the influence of laughing gas would “laugh, sing, dance, speak or fight.” The gas was administered only to “gentlemen of the first respectability.” People who wanted to get in on the unusual entertainment were charged 12½ for a ticket. It was after nitrous oxide was used for entertainment that it was discovered to have properties beneficial as an anesthetic.