peanut gallery

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peanut gallery

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Oct 11, 2004 3:51 pm

Where does this come from...I have a guess, but I want confirmation.
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peanut gallery

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:05 pm

Dear anonymous, I was about to tell you that your confirmation would come from ‘Ask the Wordwizard,’ but when I actually read the explanation I found it a bit sparse, so I will flesh it out with a very nice explanation I found in the ‘Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins.’:

PEANUT GALLERY: Back in the 1890s—and perhaps earlier—it was the custom of vaudeville to eat peanuts during performances, just as today’s moviegoers munch on popcorn. Theaters in those days consisted of orchestra, balcony, and gallery. The ‘gallery gods’—so called because their seats were nearest the ceiling, which often was decorated with allegorical paintings of the heavens—were a raffish, undisciplined crew given to direct action when they wanted to express displeasure at the entertainment. the most direct method, of course, was to rain peanut shells and, on occasion, pennies [pennies from heaven?] down on the heads of the hapless performers. Thus developed the practice of ‘playing to the galleries,’ since success and, occasionally, physical well-being depended on satisfying the denizens of the ‘peanut gallery.’
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The above explanation, however, fails to give a definition other than the high cheap seats. Random House Unabridged Dictionary and American Heritage do:

PEANUT GALLERY: 1) Random House: Slang. A source of insignificant [or unimportant] criticism: ‘No remarks from the peanut gallery!’ 2) American Heritage: A group of people whose opinions are considered unimportant: “Pressure is building... to force... Alan Greenspan to cut interest rates and pump up the money supply. [He] has politely ignored these catcalls from the peanut gallery” (H. Erich Heinemann).

‘Peanut gallery’ took on a secondary image in the 1950s. The kid show ‘Howdy Doody’ had a studio audience consisting of 40 children, which was known as the ‘peanut gallery.’ Uncle Bob would talk to the peanut gallery and ask the kids questions and the they would sometimes yell out responses or comments or cheer when cheering was needed, etc. The expression became very popular, which I’m not sure was ever uttered on the show and which I’m not certain was the original source of the above Random House quote – “no comments from the peanut gallery,” meaning we don’t need any outside remarks from the likes of a bunch of kids (whether kids or not). For example, my father would say, “Please, no comments from the peanut gallery!” when I made a comment on a statement that was not directed toward me. The expression was everywhere and teachers, parents, and TV personalities (e.g. Milton Berle) were using it routinely. I’m not really sure, however, how popular ‘peanut gallery’ and ‘no remarks from the peanut gallery’ is today. In my world, I certainly don’t hear it much.
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Ken G – November 6, 2003




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peanut gallery

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:20 pm

It is perhaps fortunate that coconut shies are restricted to fairgrounds.
EA
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