play to the gallery

play to the gallery
play to the crowd
(appeal to spectators for maximum approval) — играть на публику, искать дешевой популярности, заигрывать (со зрителями, с избирателями, с толпой, с народом, пр.); ≈ рисоваться на публику

Example 1: He peppers his speeches with humor and wisecracks about his opponent, clearly playing to the gallery. (The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms)

Example 2: Tom Cruise is still off his rocker. Cruise played to the crowd on "The Tonight Show" Wednesday, jumping on Jay Leno's couch and pumping his arms as he mocked his exuberant display of affection for Katie Holmes on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."(tabloidcolumn.com)

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In this term gallery refers to the cheapest seats in a British theater and hence the least sophisticated audience. (The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms)