I was at a concert in LA, and the band was having an off night, and some people in the audience started throwing tomatoes at the band. Now who would throw tomatoes at the band? That's bad. But who would bring a tomato to a show? That's even worse. Don't throw tomatoes at the band. What if they really like tomatoes? They'll think you're enjoying the show. "You guys are great - here's a tomato!"
The tomato is the universal sign for not enjoying a performance. Plus I like it on sandwiches. I had the guy at Subway put tomatoes on my sandwich because I didn't like the way he was making it.
- Mitch Hedberg
I flipped the TV on in time (by mistake) to see part of the Ted Kennedy funeral procession. As the hearse drove past the Capitol building, a huge crowd gathered on the steps began to applaud. They applauded. They applauded the hearse.
I think sometimes applause is a reaction to some event where we are dumbfounded as to what exactly we are supposed to do. Like when a hearse drives by with a deceased person inside. For a second, we look around, figuring that we have to do something, or else how will the hearse know we recognize it? So there they were, two hundred or so seemingly intelligent people applauding as the hearse drove by.
I've been to more than a few movies where people applaud at the end. Applauding a movie is almost as dopey as applauding a hearse. At least the people in the theater are alive. I think it's a way to show the people around you that "I get it" when a movie is particularly good or there is some odd twist at the end. "Aren't I smart?" applause.
Standing up at a sporting event is another odd behavior. A guy hits a ball a long way toward the outfield, and somebody in front of me invariably stands up to watch it, as though he couldn't see it if he remained seated. Ironically, he is keeping me from seeing it.
Standing ovations are interesting, too. "Hey, we like you a lot more than if we just sat here and applauded." The performer is supposed to think that we made an effort to stand, but we stand to let somebody go to the bathroom too.
I've been going to games for about 40 years, and I've never booed anyone. I've yelled questions at them like, "What the Hell were you thinking?" Or "Are you kidding?" but I don't boo. Like applause, sometimes we don't know what to do, and booing is supposed to be the opposite of applauding, but I think keeping quiet is the opposite, so I usually just keep quiet. Or I'll stand and be quiet. I think that's the ultimate in disappoval. I care enough to stand up and say nothing.