play to the gallery

Idioms & Phrases

play to the gallery

Appeal to spectators for maximum approval, as in He peppers his speeches with humor and wisecracks about his opponent, clearly playing to the gallery. In this term gallery refers to the cheapest seats in a British theater and hence the least sophisticated audience. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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