To the audience for Whoopi Goldberg’s one-woman show at the Lyceum Theater: a word of advice about how to create a standing ovation when you don’t really mean it.

First, it is very difficult to start a standing ovation of any sort from the back row of an auditorium. The mechanics are simple: most people stand up in a theater in order to see over the heads of the people who have stood up in front of them. Gazing fixedly at a solid wall of unfamiliar backs makes most people feel short and faintly imbecilic. Standing up is much more fun and, in addition, enables you to see what’s going on onstage. If you try to create a standing ovation from anywhere near the back of the theater, however, the rest of the audience will just sit there and jeer at you. If you are sitting toward the back of the theater and feel that you would like to participate in a standing ovation, it is best to try and...


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