By the early 1820s, claques had become institutionalized, with an agency in Paris specializing in the distribution of the shills' services. (In Urban Government and the Rise of the French City, the historian William B. Cohen describes the intricate price lists these faux flatterers would hand out to would-be patrons: polite clapping would cost this many francs, enthusiastic applause would cost this many, heckles directed at a competitor would cost this many.)
The claque also became categorized: There were the rieurs ("laughers"), who would laugh loudly at the jokes; the pleureurs ("criers"), who'd feign tears in reaction to performances; the commissaires ("officers"), who would learn a play or a piece of music by heart and then call attention to its best parts; the chatouilleurs ("ticklers"), who'd keep the audience in a good mood, in the manner of later drink minimums; and the bisseurs ("encore-ers"), who'd request encore performances — the first one having been, obviously, so delightful.
March 15, 2013
"The 16th-century French poet Jean Daurat is generally credited with (or: blamed for) the resurrection" of "the claque."
"He bought a bunch of tickets to his own plays, handing them out to people who promised to applaud at the end of the performances."