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The Craft

Should Performers Take Karaoke Seriously?

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Should Performers Take Karaoke Seriously?

I won’t karaoke. Please don’t ask me.

It’s not that I don’t sing. I’m not bad. I’ve even played nice roles in musicals. But karaoke, I will not do. Most of my friends are willing, eager even, to jump up and boldly belt out schmaltzy hits as the bar crowd cheers. They often pressure me to join them, reminding me that I’m the actor. Come on, they say, you should be the first in line!

Recently, while refusing to join my colleagues (an art history–and–philosophy professor duo singing that creepy Divinyls song about touching yourself), I had an epiphany. It was precisely because I was a performer that I couldn’t perform.

When you take your work seriously, you want to do it well. While karaoke isn’t my “work” in any real sense, it’s close enough to elicit the mechanics of my actor mind. I want to prepare and nail the show. On that night out with the professors, I hadn’t warmed up, rehearsed, or heard the accompaniment beforehand. How could I do well under those circumstances? Sure, the art historian could laugh off a massive fail. Me? Not so much. I want to be…good! All the time! And I get paid to perform, after all. I can’t just give it away! Surely you, my fellow performers, know what I’m talking about.

Or maybe I just need to order stiffer drinks.

Jackie Apodaca is an associate professor and the head of performance at Southern Oregon University.

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