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The Simple Act of Clapping

This short post is to talk about performances and audience participation. This is a topic I’ve wanted to cover for quite some time. Specifically, through the past several years, I’ve seen a disturbing trend emerging –

The audience does not clap.

I have seen this happen at concerts, sideshows, and just about any other performance venue you can imagine. The performer finishes a good act and the crowd just stands there. Maybe with their arms crossed, or talking to their friends, or just standing there wondering what is next. To anyone who has every performed in front of a crowd, you will know exactly what I mean.

This is no fun for anyone. The performer certainly doesn’t appreciate it and the whole vibe of the room goes downhill.

Why So Serious?

Now I don’t mean we should be clapping in the middle of a dangerous acrobatic routine, just like we wouldn’t clap in the middle of a song (unless requested). What I mean is that when a performer finishes their routine/song/dance/etc, and it’s clear that they gave a good and honest show, then it should be time to do your part. Put your mitts together and CLAP.

This post isn’t just to complain that I didn’t get a round of applause after I did a handstand. I’ve seen this happen numerous times to numerous performers. Most recently I walked into a coffee shop and unexpectedly into the middle of a performance of one Doc Hodges. This guy sounds like a dead ringer for Johnny Cash and has an unbelievable amount of talent. Most of the shop was stuck with their noses in their laptops, not clapping. Doc made some comments to that effect, and things picked up a little. We should’ve all been clapping, yet I felt like I was one of the only few doing so for this amazing musician.

Now, I don’t think I’m an amazing performer. And I don’t think I deserve a standing ovation like I just performed the Hallelujah Chorus. But we seem to forget that here is a person giving out their energy to the crowd, and hopefully expecting a little in return. When you fail to clap, it’s draining and depressing.


There may be several reasons for this phenomenon that I see. Perhaps we’ve seen so many performers with incredible talent these days. Every other show on t.v. seems to feature Simon Cowell and a panel of celebrity(?) judges trying to ferret out the best of the best. When you’ve seen Cirque du Soleil 100x, maybe a regular handstand looks boring to you. (Even if you still can’t do one). We become a society of critics.

Or maybe we’re use to watching endless clips on YouTube. It’s generally a one way line of communication. Yes, some people will leave comments, but for the most part you’re just watching. No need to clap at the end. Maybe this has conditioned us to be a bit more passive in showing our appreciation.

Clapping Handstand Pushup? Yawn.

There’s no emotional investment. Each live performance we see is no different in our minds than a clip we saw online.

If you don’t put down your phone and just enjoy the show, I’m going to saw your hands off.


Or maybe its the whole group mentality that no one actually wants to be the first to do something, or the only one to do something. No one really clapping at a show? Then I guess I won’t clap either. I wouldn’t want to single myself out and possible like something “uncool”.

And before you think “that would never be me.” Let me remind you that you’re not as adventurous as you think. We like to follow, not lead.


Are you like the first guy? Or the second? Or even the third? Or are you like the rest of them?


On that note, there is something you can do to alleviate this problem.

If you like something, clap for it.

Hell, even if you don’t really like something, you should clap for it. Again, if there’s a performer in front of you, then they are sharing their hard work and energy with you. To stand with your arms crossed is rude. To talk with your friends is rude. To pretend like everything is alright if you don’t clap, is rude.

While I’m no professional performer, I do find myself in front of crowds on a semi-regular basis, most usually performing my fledgling chairs routine.

Entertaining the crowds in 100 degree weather.

To finish a routine, and then look straight into someone’s face as they cross their arms and just walk away is infuriating. Don’t be that person.

I’ll end this on a positive note that this does not happen all the time. There are plenty of awesome crowds that are super appreciative. A good crowd at a good show makes it a great experience. Be that crowd.


– Jim

p.s. this music video rocks, as does the crowd.

Sep 12, 2011 | Category: Blog | Comments: none


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