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I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The cheapening of standing ovations

I watched about 15 minutes of the president's State of the Union address before shutting it off last night. Nothing to do with the speech itself, though as a former high school forensics star who went to nationals TWICE (that's right, I was a forensics dynasty), I think Bush could have sold his "We're addicted to oil" money line better. Draw it out more, George: "We're. Addicted. To. Oiiil!" And drive each word home with a powerful right hand gesture.

What bothered me about the speech (and all State of the Unions) is the preponderance of standing ovations. Every other sentence, these people were standing up and clapping for 10 seconds. Even if Bush said something obvious like, "Children need to eat food to survive!" they applauded like he just came up with Declaration of Independence right there on the spot. It made a 15 minute address last 45 minutes.

I've noticed this phenomenon at theater shows I have reviewed. Almost every play or musical I have ever attended has ended with a standing ovation, even when the show clearly sucked. Whatever happened to saving the standing ovation for something really special? Now if you don't stand up, it's like not clapping at all. Standing ovations are expected.

My question is this: Now that the standing ovation is totally cheap, how do you recognize something exceptional? Jump and clap? Maybe some sort of synchronized routine with the other people in your row? How about a tip jar?

Any ideas?

4 Comments:

Blogger Thomas Roz said...

Arsenio was clearly onto something with the fist pump and "woof-woof."

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed that the less reputable a preforming cast the more likely they are to get a standing ovation. I think that the more the ticket costs the less likely you are to get the standing ovation. Cirque du Soleil and the SF Symphony don't get a standing ovation at every performance, but a high school production of flowers for Algernon does. (eric lyte was amazing...)

The congress standing ovation is fine with me. I see at as something to liken to those comedic sessions of the British Parliament on c-span, which are very entertaining with all their moaning, groaning and sporadic outbursts. It's just something weird and traditional. They all look ridiculious and creepy, but that's how politicians always look. -m

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

My favorite part of the speech was when Bush noted his Social Security plan failed last year in Congress and the Democrat side erupted in cheers. Now THAT is comedy.

5:22 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

I've always loved the awed silence after a beautiful performance. I appreciate that more than any standing ovation.

5:23 PM  

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