Claque

Claqueurs Applause by clapping the hands; persons paid for doing so. M. Sauton, in 1820, established in Paris an office to ensure the success of dramatic pieces. He was the first to organise the Parisian claque. The manager sends an order to his office for any number of claqueurs, sometimes for 500 or even more. The class is divided into commissaires, those who commit the pieces to memory and are noisy in pointing out its merits; rieurs, who laugh at the puns and jokes; pleureurs chiefly women, who are to hold their pocket-handkerchiefs to their eyes at the moving parts; chatouilleurs, who are to keep the audience in good humour; and bisseurs, who are to cry (bis) encore. The Romans had their Laudicoeni (q.v.).

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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