You remember the song. It goes, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” Then stomp your feet, then shout “Hooray!” Then do all three.
Let’s stick with the hand clapping part for now, stipulating as we do that all claps were not created equal.
Much of the difference, maybe most of it, is self-selection. Front row ticket buyers, on average, enter a performance space happier than those who’ve asked for seats farther away from the stage.
If propensity to laugh and clap were heat and you could look down at any random audience with an infrared camera, you’d see that the first few rows are most often red, the back few most often blue. Even during quiet scenes. Hot in front, cooler in back.
But what if there’s a mixup? What happens if a person who’s asked for a back row seat gets seated in the front row, instead? Does he absorb anything? Any heat?
I think he might.
Years ago, I was the guy who always asked for a seat nearest the exit and slipped out before curtain call. (Literally and figuratively.) It’s a wonder that I went to plays at all. (Literally and figuratively.)
Nowadays, I ask for seats dead center house, which makes it impossible for me to slip out early. I deliberately put myself in proximity to people who’ll be good role models. Who’ll keep me warm.
Which is about the best that a lizard can be expected to do.