Huffington Post: Excessive ‘Clapping Along’ and the ‘Round of Applause’

 I am finally coming out against the stage performer’s abuse of the request for us, the audience to “clap along”. We don’t WANT to clap along. I’m off, you’re working, I paid for this ticket, YOU clap along. Clapping along should come from me being inspired enough in whatever you’re doing to want to clap along.

 

But once I do give in to clapping along (usually out of public pressure), how long do I have to clap along for? The entire song? Until the performer stops clapping along? I feel uncomfortable stopping before the person next to me for fear of being judged that I am an unappreciative audience member. I am appreciative of the performance, just not the request and responsibility laid upon me to clap along. It’s the equivalent of having to do the YMCA hand gestures so the bar-mitzvah band leader doesn’t feel alone and lame.

 

Asking me to clap along more than once in the show makes my hands hurt. Maybe I clap too hard. But what if one’s clap doesn’t make a lot of noise? Or any? Sometimes if my hands are too dry, I clap along and nothing comes out. But when the performer can see me, I clap anyway … I panto-clap.

 

This also goes for the request to give someone a “round of applause” … a guest musician, an assistant, an audience member. Rounds of applause are requested for the entrance, the exit or an additional “good job” reinforcement because, “They can here ya backstage! Go ahead and give them another round of applause!” They can’t hear us backstage. They’re already in the dressing room, in the car or on the phone ripping someone to shreds.

 

Performers beat this to death generally because they are lazy self-show directors and want to fill the transitional silence. Tell me who’s coming to the stage. If I am excited about the surprise, I’ll happily give a round of applause before they even do anything, as I am expected to do. If I am inspired by their performance, I will give a big one when they leave to say thanks … unless I’m applauding because I am happy they are finished and leaving.

 

When I bring 3 audience members up on stage for one of my closing bits, I ask a little about them to make them feel comfortable, then I say to the audience, “Thank them for joining us for the big finish!” thereby getting into the bit. Ya, it’s the same thing and I could get away with not doing it at all, but it feels different! It’s like asking a child to kiss his grandma or telling him to. Only at the end, after a job well done, I ask for the round of applause for these unwilling participants as they exit, in place of giving them a parting gift like a free DVD that I sell in the gift shop (or online at www.michaelziegfeld.com ).

 

There are other exceptions to this rule. It is one thing if you are sharing the stage with let’s say, the band. You are acknowledging other artists. BUT if you acknowledge the musician every time there’s a solo in every other song, then no.  I’m tired and I would like a round of applause for my participation too.  For the record, nothing is worse than a performer asking us to give ourselves a round of applause. Now I have to applaud for you, the guest and myself? No. Go be a program director at a retirement village and lead a session of kareoke.

 

As for stopping the whole show to introduce the stage crew … stop doing this. The reason the lighting, sound and stage techs work backstage in the dark is so they are not seen. They know the gig. They wear all black to blend in! It is their job to create a mood in your show that is natural and subliminal for our audience experience. You don’t peel the covers back to reveal the bed bugs and this isn’t your high school production of “Damn Yankees”. I was a tech for many years. Just thank us privately with liquor, food or cash and skip the round of applause.

 

–       Michael Paul Ziegfeld, Showbiz Person

 

 

OUR NEXT TOPIC:  When watching “Saturday Night Live” or any late night talk show monologue, at what point did we replace laughing after a joke with the pacifying gesture of woo-ing and clapping? If you are woo-ing and clapping, it’s because you didn’t think it was funny enough to laugh. Stop robbing the performer of his responsibility, no matter what the audience warm-up guy tells you!