Scene: A local theater troupe is gamely putting on a show, despite a terrible script, missed cues, unrecoverable gaffes, wooden Keanu-worthy acting, fill in the blank. The curtain falls and the players on stage breathe a collective sigh of relief. They can flee to the darkness of the wings.
The curtain rises for a final bow. The actors look out into the audience, who is clapping enthusiastically and, miraculously, rising out of their seats.
The actors wonder to themselves, “What the fuck is happening?”
Nope, these actors aren’t in an artsy-fartsy Twilight Zone. They are simply living in the era of the obligatory standing ovation.
Standing Os are given out these days as easily as Kanye West’s opinion. They are the adult version of the “everybody gets a trophy” culture, even if they metaphorically suck at soccer and kick a goal into their own net.
Regardless of whether it’s a concert by an ancient band on their fifth farewell tour, a hack comic with hackneyed bits, or a homegrown production at the avant-garde or old guard theater company in town, audiences can’t wait to jump up and simper all over the performers—even if the show was a steaming pile of merde. Standing only encourages their delusion-fueled performance.
When the curtain goes up, stand down, for the love of God, country, and good taste. Stay in your seat and send a different kind of message with your anemic-to-nonexistent applause: Get thee to rehearsal. Keep workshopping your shit. Take an acting class. Practice.
Raise your standards, not your body.