Outbreak of “Jazz Hands” Has Health Officials Worried

CHICAGO.  O’Hare Airport here remains the busiest in the nation, which is why local public health agencies moved swiftly this morning to contain a potential pandemic of “jazz hands,” an entertainment-related ailment for which there is no known cure.

“We have plenty of hand sanitizer, um, on hand–so to speak,” said airport spokesman Mary-Margaret Tournquist.  “There is no reason for alarm even though the movie ‘Chicago’–which has jazz hands in it–is about Chicago.”

That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!


The term “jazz hands” refers to an extension of a performer’s hands with palms toward the audience and fingers splayed.  The disease is commonly associated with especially exuberant performances such as musicals, cheerleading and youth dance recitals.

Spirit fingers, or jazz hands?  You make the call.


The strain that appears among cheerleaders is sometimes referred to as “spirit fingers,” although leading cheerleading leaders take issue with the implied comparison. “A big pet peeve of mine is when people confuse Bob Fosse’s stiff jazz hands for spirit fingers,” says Julie McIlvene, head cheerleader at New Trier South High School.  “Ugh, I like totally agree,” said Natalie Cooper, first alternate head cheerleader.

Schweitzer:  “Maybe if you turned your hands upwards, like this . . .”


Jazz hands decimated large segments of the populations of equatorial countries before a vaccine for the disease was developed by Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

Schweitzer won the Nobel Prize for his work, and later played organ with Paul Revere and the Raiders when keyboard player Paul Revere retired due to the onset of cheesy rock band hands.


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