A peanut gallery is an audience that heckles the performer. The term originated in the days of vaudeville as a nickname for the cheapest (and ostensibly rowdiest) seats in the theater; the cheapest snack served at the theater would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to show their disapproval. The phrases "no comments from the peanut gallery" or "quiet in the peanut gallery" are extensions of the name.
In the late 1940s the Howdy Doody show adopted the name to represent their audience of 40 kids.
- Similar seats in British theatres are often called "the gods" because of the seats' higher elevation (e.g., "We've got seats in the gods for the play tonight").
- Similar seats in French theatres were called "le paradis" (from which came the title of the movie "Les Enfants du Paradis") because of the seats' higher elevation. Another common name was "le poulailler" (the henhouse) because the population of the section was very noisy.
- In the US and Canada, especially at sporting events and concerts, the more elevated seats are often referred to as "the nosebleeds", alluding to the altitude.
- During the Jim Crow era and in segregated parts of the United States, "nigger heaven" was often used to refer to the balcony of a movie theater where blacks sat.
- The orange-colored seats in the upper decks of Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh were often referred to by local patrons as "Peanut Heaven."
- A section of elevated seats at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are referred to as "Uecker Seats."