Early on, I had the perception that standing ovations were infrequent, and decidedly well deserved. I assumed people only rose to the occasion for extraordinarily profound and exceedingly brilliant performances. I remember (and please excuse the name dropping), standing ovations for Vladimir Horowitz and Artur Rubinstein. I recall being enthralled by - and eagerly standing for - Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd. I remember rock concerts in Madison Garden where the applause was thunderous, but the vast majority of people remained seated – stoned or otherwise.
So, based on my own recent and modest sampling, why does it seem in the last couple of decades that audiences give-up standing ovations with the regularity of a gesundheit - or a fifteen percent-tip? Which is to say, I’ve become highly suspect of the entire convention for some time now, and question the integrity of its seemingly ad hoc application. I hereby offer up a list of seven likely root causes (expressed in the “fictional” first person), behind this cultural phenomena.
- I could sit down if the jerks in front would stop blocking my view.
- I hope this guy appreciates the effort – what with the off night he seems to be having.
- Damn these wedgies!
- When will I ever stop succumbing to peer-pressure?
- Standing Ovation-Schmation! My parking lot closes in five minutes.
- For a friggin’ $120 a ticket, you better believe there’s goin’ be a standing ovation.
- Great! Now I can find my cell phone.