Standing Ovations: You’re Doing It Wrong

27 Jan

Last night my husband and I had the opportunity to take in a show, something we have not been able to do in a long time.  So we sat through West Side Story enjoying it for the most part, aside from the very talkative lady sitting next to us.  Two and a half hours later the show was over.  The curtain fell.  The cast assembled, the curtain was raised, the audience started clapping and… immediately half the audience was on their feet in a standing ovation.

Listen, everyone: You all use standing ovations far too frequently.  After every show I can recall attending in the recent past, whether it be a high school musical, a professional philharmonic performance, a college dance troupe, a comedy show, or a real professional musical like we saw last night, there has been a standing ovation.  People simply don’t understand anymore what the point of a standing ovation is.

Here’s what Wikipedia says on the matter: “A standing ovation is a form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding. This is done on special occasions by an audience to show their approval and is done after extraordinary performances of particularly high acclaim.”

Note the words: particularly high acclaim.  Last night’s performance was good but I definitely wouldn’t call it one of “particularly high acclaim.”  The understudy for Tony was off key at least twice during his solos and some of the dancers weren’t in sync towards the end of the performance.  That deserves a standing ovation?  Not in my book.

Here’s the problem though (and the Wikipedia article also acknowledges this): when some of the audience stands up, you have to stand up too, otherwise you look like a douche-wazzle.  There we sat last night, politely clapping during the curtain calls, but everyone around us was standing up.  What choice did we have but to join them?

So, people of the United States: stop standing up after the show unless the performance really warrants it. Or is the problem that as a whole we’re so uncultured that we actually think every performance deserves it.  Oh, that’s a sad thought.

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2 Responses to “Standing Ovations: You’re Doing It Wrong”

  1. BB January 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    just because you didn’t feel it was SO worthy, doesn’t mean others did feel it was extremely worthy. maybe it’s just nice to do. is it really that big of a deal that an audience gives a SO if some don’t feel the participants are worthy?

    • rosswife January 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      I think it is a big deal that the Standing Ovation is losing its meaning. The shouldn’t be done just because they’re nice to do (except maybe a fourth grade band concert), they should be done because the performance was outstanding.

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