I looove karaoke ever since I learned I couldn’t sing at the age of 12 or so. Karaoke was the one place where I could be proud to show off my singing skills. My musically inclined boyfriend is baffled by my eager embarrassment, but I’ve long since embraced it as part of my nature.
I’ve participated in a number of karaoke contests, which I’ve written about. They take place at the Shattuck Downlow in Berkeley and have over the years become overrun with people who can actually sing. Bummer.
I always come in pretty close to last. I’ve always blamed the judges, which might not be fair, but I thought they just didn’t really understand my humor. (It couldn’t be that they just didn’t appreciate my out of tune vocals!)
This year I decided I would really really give it my best shot, as I’ve written about here. I took voice lessons. I learned to breathe, and that I wasn’t tone deaf! Awesomeness.
I picked my song months ago and practiced, practiced, practiced. I ordered the CD of the karaoke track online and perfected the timing and a cute little zombie dance to go with. Even my musical boyfriend said I was doing okay. My voice teacher said I was awesome. The stars were aligning for my success.
I was so pumped when I got an email from Steve, the Karoake Jockey, informing us that ALL THREE JUDGES WERE GOING TO BE NEW. What could stop me now??
The day arrived. I got all dressed up and ready to go. I went. I met a new friend, who needed a costume. I happened to have all the make up needed for zombification in my bag. I offered, he accepted.
It was dark in the bar. I followed the same exact recipe that I had used on my face. It came out a few minutes later that I had given him black face. Black face! Not at all what I meant to do!! I apologized profusely, but he was visibly irritated.
Moments later I was informed that he was a judge! Minutes before the contest started and I managed to offend a third of its governing body!! My heart sank.
I said so to my friends and noticed that the bar was loud that I had to shout for them to hear me. My voice was hoarse!!
I had hours to wait. I had picked a competitive slot–11:30. In the past, successful contestants have performed pretty late–when the crowd is drunk and ready for dancing. I was competitive this year, but I wish I hadn’t picked such a late time slot. I was nervous, I couldn’t talk to my friends for fear of further taxing my poor vocal chords and I wanted another gin and tonic.
What felt like months later, it was time. I bounded up to the stage, ready, willing. I was going to take this thing down in flames!!
I missed my first cue. That’s okay, keep going. I was singing, I was singing, and then it hit me. All my training had gone out the door. I wasn’t breathing. I wasn’t even singing!! I was shouting into the microphone like I normally do.
So, well, I didn’t do very well. But I do know how to sing now, perhaps just not on stage at the Shattuck Downlow. And I’ve learned some good lessons for next year’s Scaryoake performance.
Without further ado, my performance: