Initiation tradition/Practical Joke
In my informant’s school (grades 7-12), there are weekly school gatherings called Town Meetings. In these meetings, any student may make an announcement. It is tradition that when the first 7th grader gets up to make an announcement every year, the students break out in applause, but do not stop applauding. The noise of clapping too overwhelming, the student awkwardly stands on stage and cannot finish the announcement. My informant thought this was funny, and enjoyed the tradition.
Although embarrassing to the victim, it allowed everybody else to laugh together, reinforcing the community. This is also a liminal activity that introduces the new students to the school, a form of initiation. Knowledge is key here; those that know the joke can partake. The seventh graders, who do not know the joke is coming, are the “other”. Once they know, though, the 7th graders become part of the community. A year later, those 7th graders (now 8th graders) can be part of the joke and laugh at the new 7th graders too.