It’s amazing to think that for a small period in our lives we were applauded for bodily functions. Any parent remembers that agonizing time of encouragement and reward when our toddlers transitied from diapers to potty training. Have humans ever felt prouder of themselves? A small crowd gathered around to clap and cheer that you made “pee pee” or “poo poo” in the potty, a phone call to relatives, a treat for a bathroom job that was well done. Here’s a question for you…when did it stop for you?

That’s the one thing we don’t take into consideration, at some point we STOP applauding our children, in fact some don’t want to be part of it any more. This got me thinking about how this relates to the actor and their need for constant reassurance and accolades. While the majority of the population would rather die than have a crowd staring at them, actors have a weird and narcissistic desire to be looked at, admired, and funnily enough, applauded. We love being on stage where the instant gratification comes at us from the crowd when we are cheered, when we hear their laughter, or when we move them to tears. We make films so we can sit in the back, in the dark, watching the audience’s reactions and waiting for the applause at the end of a screening. Is this, in some way, a continuation of our parents’ praise? It sure feels like it some times!

I realized how far this runs when I made a crack to my husband that actors are actors because we miss having people applaud us for going to the bathroom, we need the applause in theatres and on set. He stopped me, “What do you mean on set?” I explained that after an actor has shot his/her last scene, the Assistant Director calls out… “And that’s a wrap on (insert actor’s name here)!”… and the whole crew and other actors are expected to burst out into applause.

He was absolutely stunned to hear this on-set etiquette and that got me thinking about everyone reading this. How strange would it be if everyday, when you packed up to leave work, those around you would give you a round of applause for a job well done. Would it be strange? Or, would you feel pretty proud of yourself, like a really good little girl/boy? My guess is that most of you would be horrified. My husband said it would make him feel like he was being made fun of.

Although people like to be recognized for their efforts, or at the very least, appreciated, most would find this act to be flat out ridiculous. That’s fine for us actors, we like the attention and since no one cares what I’m doing in the bathroom anymore, I’ll take my applause where I can get it.

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer. / / / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy