Hogarth’s portrayals of human faces are poised between caricature and characterization, and it is not always entirely clear which end of the spectrum they seem closer to. It is nonetheless possible to state that whereas the young Hogarth was inclined towards hyperbole - i.e., towards caricature, as a mature artist he preferred instead to convey the defining features of the figure being portrayed. This etching on the subject of a laughing audience was part of the subscription for the sale of Hogarth’s large-format prints of A Rake’s Progress. The subject revisits the popular metaphor of life as a stage, representing all social classes. The world seen as theatre is also present in the work of Hogarth’s friend Henry Fielding. The etching attests to Hogarth’s links to the literary and theatrical scene of the time.