Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Karaoke Chronicles: Hurry, Can I Bay?

Dear Karaoke Jockey,

First of all, I get it, okay? You miss your high school drama class. Then, your obnoxious self-aggrandizing was actually rewarded with a passing grade. Who wouldn't love that kind of encouragement?

Unfortunately, I'm going to tell you what somebody should have told you on graduation day: what passed for creative expression to your fellow thespians then is at best rampant ego masturbation now. Hopefully you can get a life as quickly as I want you out of mine.

Of course, that last part ain't going to be that easy -- not when I genuinely like karaoke and the Phoenix area offers precious few forums for it, at least around the holidays when I visit family. If you want to be a karaoke jockey whose bar benefits from my repeat business, I need you to understand a few things.

Here's a quick lesson in culture: "karaoke" is the literal combination of the words "empty" and "orchestra." While every orchestra needs a conductor, the musicians are obviously the real stars, since they actually produce the music we, the audience, enjoy. You don't see the conductor pick up an oboe and join in just because he feels like it, you know? He knows his place is out of sight, out of mind.

What I'm trying to say is, when my friends and I want to sing, shut your trap and get off the stage. No, I don't want you to invent a creative mime act to back up my song choice's lyrics, either. When Phil Collins wrote, "I can feel it coming in the air tonight," I don't think he was imagining a pencilneck like you shaking his fist on stage behind me.

Oh, but remember what I said about your stroking that ego?

As a karaoke jockey, you are a facilitator. A horse jockey directs his horse, a disc jockey spins his records, and a karaoke jockey keeps his crowd happy by providing a fun, comfortable place for them to sing. Do not mock their appearance. Do not turn their song into a duet starring you because you think they suck and need your help. Most importantly, do not consume over twenty minutes of stage time when you have a waiting list in the double digits. When I walked into "your bar," I saw dozens of patrons ready to drink and belt out their favorite tunes, perfect pitch be damned. Inside of an hour, the room cleared, coincidentally after you sang a stirring rendition of "Johnny Be Good" with your guitar-shredding sidekick (who didn't even play the song's opening riff, and even Michael J. Fox can do that . . . and I mean he can do that now, shaky hands and all). It was just your friends, my friends, and the elephant in the room -- your undying need for attention and affection.

Good thing your girlfriend obviously has plenty of that to go around, if you know what I mean.

Come to think of it, karaoke really suits you. You put the "empty" back in "empty orchestra," what with that big old void in your soul. Do yourself and your lesbian friends a favor and join a travelling theater troupe. Both of our problems would be solved: you could be on stage as long as you want, and you'd be the hell out of town.

"Miniskirts in Moscow"

No comments: