standing, oh


The standing ovation problem

I went to a preview showing of God of Carnage at the Rep last weekend. Pretty funny, pretty lightweight: good, but I wouldn’t recommend it at full price unless money is no object. I may have mentioned this before, but I’m still amazed that just about every show that anyone likes has to get a standing ovation. How do you let the actors and director know when you think a show is truly inspired? You can’t use the standing “o” anymore because everything gets one, including merely good or mediocre performances. We need to start a new tradition, I guess. How about howler monkey howls?

The movie applause problem

On the subject of applause, I don’t applaud at the end of a movie unless the director, actors, or some other members of the film crew are present. If they aren’t there, then why  am I clapping like a trained seal? For myself? No, I don’t get any satisfaction from applauding. For the projectionist? Nope. For other people in the audience? No, they didn’t do anything to deserve applause (unless they actually refrained from talking during the film—don’t get me started on that). I don’t think the credits rolling across the screen hear my applause and appreciate it. Maybe you’re just so darned excited that you can’t help but slap your hands together.

Other ovation difficulties

Wait. I have more curmudgeonly, cranky remarks. When someone on a stage suggests that we applaud, why does said person often say, “Give it up!” when he or she wants the crowd to cheer? I don’t want to give anything up. It’s not a robbery. Why do some people still pump their arms and do the gorilla-like, “Uugh! Uugh! Uugh!” vocalizations that were popular among college frat-boys 10 to 20 years ago? Is it funny? No. Does it inspire the performer? I doubt it. And why is it that at some performances, such as fire spinning or drumming, it’s de rigueur to shout a rapid-fire, high-pitched “Yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi” while trilling the tongue? My guess is that it’s supposed to sound “tribal,” and maybe create some pretend solidarity with indigenous peoples and minorities, even though its mostly middle-class white folks who do it.


You may be asking, “Well, what am I allowed to do according to your rules, dangblog?” Glad you asked. You may (1) nod your head slightly to show approval or do the howler monkey at the theater, (2) shrug to show indifference, (3) look disgusted for disapproval, or (4) do your best imitation of a duck quack for any of the above.


5 thoughts on “standing, oh

  1. Lucy

    I like it when people applaud at movies. But not at SIFF, where it’s sort of expected. I like it when you’re in a theater sprinkled with people and almost everyone bursts out in spontaneous applause. I feel a connection to the other people in the theater when that happens. And it’s completely spontaneous, which is what makes it wonderful. It’s not feasible to talk to everyone in the theater after the movie, so spontaneous applause (a.k.a. SA), to me, is shorthand for all the discussions it would be wonderful to have after an especially wonderful movie, a movie that has the ability to guide you to a place where time and space do not exist.

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