Thursday, January 15, 2009

For average acts, please remain seated

When's the last time you attended a live performance that did not culminate in standing ovation? Here in Wichita, I don't think it's ever happened. This city is charming in a lot of other ways, but the obligatory Standing O has become one of my pet peeves. You can be Pavarotti or one of the freak acts from American Idol, and people are still going to leap to their feet when the song is done.

OK, we're nice here in the Midwest. But standing up while applauding is about the highest gesture of appreciation an audience can bestow, short of women throwing their underwear. This is not something you award to any schmuck who walks by whistling Dixie. Doing so rewards mediocrity and makes the standers look like rubes, grinning bumpkins who are just real glad somebody decided to spend the night here in Punkin Holler.

I'm glad to see Miss Manners and I are on the same page on this: You reserve exceptional gestures for exceptional performances. You clap for everyone, that's just courtesy -- but you only stand up for the very best. If everybody gets a gold medal for showing up, then what's a gold medal worth? Treating both the mediocre and the marvelous as Special Olympics contestants doesn't help either of them.

Next week: Why getting killed in the workplace doesn't necessarily make you a hero.


Nick said...

Wichitans actually don't give Gridiron a standing O. So the line is somewhere between Gridiron and Sesame Street Live.

Peter Rozovsky said...

In a related complaint, the next time some MC at a dreary, quarter-filled bar brays: "Give it up, PEEPUL, for ... " after some indifferent performance, I kill.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Dave Knadler said...

You sure about that, Nick? Both times I went, I could have sworn folks were standing at the end. Maybe I was in particularly ebullient section.

Peter, my solution is to avoid bars offering any entertainment beyond a gimlet-eyed cynic at the piano.

Nick said...

I may have been in the drunks section. Correctly so.

Dave Knadler said...

Well no, that can't be it, since I'm pretty sure I was in the same section -- out of my gourd on boxed wine.

I'm willing to admit I may have exaggerated the post a bit for dramatic effect.

Jared said...

This is one of my pet peeves as well. It happens in the theater all the time. Overenthusiastic types that are applauding their own ability to sit through a play without actually being able to figure out if it was any good or not.

Ryan said...

Heck it might not even be everyone in the event that causes the standing O. It only takes a few to stand and then everyone else (for some reason) feels an obligatory urge to join them.

Yes it does get on my nerves as well.