Perhaps I’m cynical, but I think 90% of all standing ovations are uncalled for.
Your percentage might be different, but I’m sure you’ve encountered a scenario when the guy in front of you jolts out of his seat at the end of a performance and starts clapping way too loud. You look around at the other people in the room to see if other people are joining in.
Soon there’s a critical mass of people participating in the standing ovation and you don’t want to be the jerk who stays in his seat. So you begrudgingly drag yourself out of the seat and clap along with everyone else, but you don’t really mean it. You really just want to sit back down and try to pry the last clod of Milk Duds off the bottom of the box.
That’s 90% of standing ovations for me.
However, every now and then that annoying dude tries to start the standing ovation, but no one else joins in. It’s glorious.
That’s what happened the other day at the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me live show. After the interview with the guest of honor–which was charming and funny, but in no way standing-ovation worthy–the guy directly in front of me jumped out of his seat and started clapping. His wife stood up in sync with him. I bet this is their thing, to go around to live shows and be the first to stand up for the ovation. They probably get frisky in the car afterwards.
As they clapped, I looked around the room, hoping that no one else would join in. And miraculously, only one or two other people did. Not nearly enough to get the momentum necessary for the whole room to stand up. It was amazing. I almost gave a standing ovation to the fact that I wasn’t socially obligated to give a standing ovation.
It was a great show, but that made my night.
Have you ever experienced this? Or are you the person who races to be the first to his/her feet?