Thursday, July 07, 2016
Standing ovations used to, well… stand for something. You reserved them for HAMILTON, or Adele, or the Puppetry of the Penis. Today an Equity Waiver production of SPIDERMAN: THE MUSICAL starring local TV news anchors gets a standing O. Even though it closes after one performance and three people are injured.
I can’t tell you how many times over the last few years I’ll go to a meh theater event, watch the audience leap to its feet, and go “What the fuck? She forgot half her lines. He sang off key. She never took her clothes off.”
When did standing ovations become the norm? The idea is to really single out excellence. 85-year-old Barbara Cook still hitting spectacular notes. A helicopter landing on stage. LES MIZ with a cast of three.
I feel bad now for actors when they only receive loud thunderous applause. That must be devastating to them.
Is this just an outgrowth of the Millennial generation where everyone got trophies for everything?
Partially, I blame myself. I’ve spent a good portion of my career toiling in multi-camera television. Studio audiences are herded into sound stages, and warm-up men TELL them to give standing ovations. It always kills me when the cast of a pilot is introduced and gets a standing O. The audience has no idea who any of these people are. They haven’t even seen them perform yet and already they’re out of their seats. Perhaps TV sitcom tapings over many years has conditioned audiences to automatically stand at the sight of anyone bowing. Although, I may be too hard on myself. This happens in game show tapings too. Crowds are expected to go wild for Chuck Woolery.
We’re getting dangerously close to a time when movies get standing ovations.
I think it’s time to pull back. Steve Harvey interviewing toddlers isn’t enough. Nor is Carson Daly doing anything. Let’s celebrate true excellence, let’s reserve our highest recognition for those performers who really deserve it. Let’s bring back “special.”
As a writer I never expect a standing ovation. Bouquets of flowers are enough.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM