About the Colony

Stop screaming and enjoy the show

Special to The TribuneJune 3, 2013 

Lon Allan


When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I would sometimes find myself at a children’s party of some kind that had a clown or magician. I knew then as I do now that they were there to entertain us.

What bothered me, then and now, is that the magician/clown would try to warm up us children by shouting something like, “Is everybody happy?” or “Are you having fun?” and when we answered “yes” or “yeah” the entertainer would say something like, “I can’t hear you,” several times until he had whipped us 8-year-olds into some kind of frenzy.

I always felt uncomfortable and would always walk to the back of the room or even go outside to separate myself from it. I didn’t want to be manipulated that way. Even today I can’t stand it when an announcer says something like, “Put your hands together for …” It is even worse when the emcee turns around minutes later and says, “Let’s have another hand for …” This bearing of my soul explains why I can’t stand what is happening on television these days in talk and entertainment programming; an audience that can’t seem to stop screaming. The host/announcer has to shout over the hysterical applause and yelling in the background.

What has happened to polite and even enthusiastic applause from the audience?

I began to notice it on the Oprah Winfrey show as her audiences, just like those for Ellen DeGeneres, appear to be whipped into some kind of madness prior to these hosts, and their guests, walking on stage.

You combine this with the expectation of getting freebies — anything from the guest performers’ latest CD to a new car — and it is an absolutely disgusting display of out-of-control avarice.

I was in the audience of a couple of television shows and know that they employ someone to set up the night, explain what to do when the “applause” sign comes on and other details, such as when to be quiet.

But there was not an attempt to get us into a heightened state before the show began, even when I attended the taping of a Jay Leno show.

The practice — excessive yelling and screaming for no apparent reason for people we don’t even know — is finding its way to even smaller performance venues such as the California Mid-State Fair.

What happened to people sitting in their seats to enjoy the concert?

Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column is published weekly. Reach him at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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