Woo: a verbal affirmation of support, delight, or marvel, commonly used in performance contexts such as rock concerts, improv shows, and evangelical church music; a verbal high five or pat on the back i.e. “Woooooooooo!” Not appropriate for chamber choir performances. e.g. “WOOOOOOOO! (dirty looks).”
A show just ended and my feet are sweating from the laughter. I’m buzzed from the truth in comedy and inspired to live the rest of my life. The performance demands a response. What do I do? Do I go up to the stage and give everyone firm handshakes? Yes, because I love handshakefulness. Do I go and give high fives? Also, yes, because high fives are incredible.
But mostly, I woo. Before anything, I woo. What a strange thing to do. A kind of shrieking or yelling, it’s slightly aggressive and varied in pitch. I go high but not too high, and I never go too low. A low woo is no woo at all, and middle range woo’s are for woo n00bs.
Could a woo also be called a cheer? In Elizabethan times, when the riff raff became excited by one of Shakespeare’s new plays, how did they give their verbal high fives? Were I to step back in time and become a gladiator in the arenas of Rome, what would I hear coming from the audience? A buzzing sound? Ooooo’s without the W? Unformed screams? Clacks?
Were I to risk everything and build myself a time machine out of old toilet paper rolls and search for the very first woo, what would it sound like? A moo? Would it be to celebrate a freshly slain pantosaur or skirtcelops? Would it be in celebration of nature, a group of my great aunts and uncles looking at a full moon over the prehistoric forest and grunting or shrieking? And when the moon did nothing but moon right back, what would the response be? Even more grunting because of the mystery and unattainability of nature’s beauty? Or frustration and the first mutterings of doubt, wondering if anyone’s even listening?
Flying down a country lane in Bologna on a rented bicycle with my hair undone, I burst into song, unable to keep it inside. When the adrenaline’s pumping, when the energy is there – it feels good to scream, to belt something out from the gut, to make your internal bliss external and give it back, because if it stays it might grow into a watermelon plant.
Maybe the woo* is the most perfect form of human expression, uninhibited by the burden of forming words. Just imagine, after a particularly moving performance of any kind, rising and yelling, “I really enjoyed this! It was good because it was acted authentically and made sense in its own world! I feel I better understand my own place in the world as a result of this performance!”
That man would be sedated instantly. But the one screaming almost animal-like sounds, “WOOOOO….WOOOO…..WOOOO….” is normal.
The next time I read something true, my response will be “WOOOOO!”
The next time someone says “I love you” and I love them, my response will be “WOOOOO!”
The next time I eat a delicious breakfast, my response will be “WOOOOO!”