This past Sunday an area theater company ran an ad in the local newspaper advertising their upcoming production.
The show had opened on Friday and the ad they ran two days later was the type I call “fake articles,” an ad that is formatted to look like a regular newspaper article, or in this case, review. The only clue that the article is in fact an ad, is a light line of type across the top that says, “paid advertisement.”
I’ve always been put off by this style of advertising. It’s disingenuous and feels like someone is trying to pull one over on you.
This particular “review” stated that opening night was a huge success, receiving a standing ovation.
I wasn’t at the show so don’t know if this is true or not, but the deadline for the arts section of Sunday’s paper is 3 pm on Wednesday, so when they placed the ad they didn’t know if it was true or not either.
The company wrote a fake article describing events that had not yet taken place.
So either they are psychic, cocky, planted someone in the audience to lead a standing ovation or standing ovations have become far too commonplace.
I think it’s probably the last of those things.
I hate insincere standing ovations and refuse to stand up unless it’s deserved.
I’ve remained seated when people all around me are jumping to their feet, cheering for a mediocre performance just because some idiot knew one of the actors and decided “effort” was worthy of a standing O and all the other sheep-like audience members joined him.
To be fair, I’ve also been known to give a one person standing ovation (at a regional matinee of Sondhiem’s Assassins where the audience was full of dozing senior citizens on a bus trip who didn’t know what to make of a singing Lee Harvey Oswald.)
I attended a perfectly dreadful show with a friend a few years ago and when it ended, she was the first one to stand.
Afterwards, I asked her what she was thinking. “How could you possible give a standing ovation for that awful play?”
She answered, “I was just so excited that it was over that I leapt up before I even realized it.”
(The lesson is never look a gift standing ovation in the mouth. It could be the audience was just anxious to leave.)
I’m guessing the company that wrote the fake review just assumed they’d get a standing ovation because they always have, because standing ovations are no longer a sign of excellence but expected and routine.
I’d like to propose a new rule.
Pretend that you can only give five or ten standing ovations in your lifetime and dole them out accordingly.
That means don’t get to your feet at the end unless you are truly moved. Don’t stand up unless you have tears in your eyes or goosebumps on your arms.
And remember that everyone has a different reaction to a show, so don’t jump up just because your neighbor did.
Your standing ovation is yours alone to bestow. Don’t waste them.