The words ‘karaoke’ and ‘circus’ strike both fear and enjoyment into me when heard individually. ‘Karaoke’ sums up lots of fat sweaty people whining along to awful pop songs they only know half the words to while emitting the sort of grin that says ‘I am a legend of rock’ without irony. However, a few beers in and I am more than prone to a bit of a warble and will finally admit to myself I was sitting there all along, only being condescending because I think I can do better. ‘Circus’ makes me think ‘Yey the circus! Fire eaters and trapeze artists and candy floss which makes me have a diabetic hyperglycemic attack and clowns and….’ ‘Circus’ also makes me think of clowns and clowns are nothing if not the scariest people on earth. Yep scarier than the Nazis. At least the Nazis didn’t wear white face paint and look like the bad guy in Stephen King’s It. If he’d designed that creature to look like a Nazi, I’d still be able to go to the circus. So when last night’s London Improv was sadly cancelled and it was either stay and listen to Michael Legge hitting a keyboard repeatedly as though he was trying to poke it’s keys off out of venom, or go to Karaoke Circus, I panicked a little. It could be the worst thing ever. Clowns screaming shit songs while I’m force fed candyfloss till my eyes pop out. Fire eaters gurning to trapeze artists yelling Jim Reeves and that.
Luckily, it was most definitely the opposite of that. In fact, after hearing so much about it, I really can’t believe I hadn’t been before. There was one clown, but he was part of the band and while I was a bit scared, he seemed rather nice while he played the guitar. Also with the guitar in his hands he can’t eat children so there you go. But the whole concept as so brilliantly devised by Danielle Ward and Martin White, is excellent. People and comics get onstage and sing good songs with full lovely support of the crowd in a venue that were it a degree or two hotter I’d probably have seen flesh melt. There were people walking around handing out cookies and cakes for free (yes! For Free! Everyone loves free cakes!) and I got to see Andrew Collins sing ‘I’m Strictly Roots’ which was both the most borderline wrong and yet excellent thing I’ve seen him do ever. I knew lots of people and it was like all those Edinburgh parties where you just get to socialise with lovely types, only with less of the actual stress of Edinburgh and those odd few people you have to speak to even though everything they say is made of yawn.
They also had two very important things. One was a string section. Now I’m a bit of a sucker for a string section. Yeah other bits of orchestras are all well and good, but you slam a bit of string time in there and that’s when things get epic. Think about all the best films ever. Think about their soundtracks. They nearly all have strings in them. Even if you can’t hear the strings, they probably had a guy standing at the back just holding a cello and looking cool to make sure it all went well. I really think you could add strings to the most mundane of activities and suddenly it’d become important. Stuffing envelopes? Add a violin section. Suddenly you are Caesar stuffing envelopes. That’s the Roman one, not the dog. Although a dog stuffing envelopes would be impressive. And probably more impressive than you stuffing envelopes. So you can be either Caeser if you want. Or an amalgamation of both. A small dog that rules Romans. Yes, that’s the best one. I’ve seen loads of gigs where a string section has made them even more incredible. The Good, The Bad and The Queen at the Tower of London was one. Kanye West had a string section when I saw him in Edinburgh and he’d probably argue that it was the best one ever. I’d disagree, but they were amazing. And last night the string section added a whole element of ‘shit yeah’ to things. That’s the proper musical term.
The second was a small kazoo type trumpet thing that Foz (the clown guitar man) had, that made that excellent ‘weeeeeee’ noise. No, lot like someone weeing. Tee hee. No, the one you hear when on sitcoms from the 60’s someone slips on a banana. I think this instrument will never stop being funny. That sound can make the most tragic situation pretty damn funny. Think of some tragedy. Now think of the wee noise. Brilliant. Also much kudos to Shell for the ticket, Will who shouted Kids in America like he wanted all of the kids in the song to die, Chad for a top rendition of big spender, Kevin Eldon for an excellent rendition of ‘Wichita Linesman’ and all the others involved. Oh and to Thom Tuck who I didn’t realise was Thom Tuck. This was awkward as it meant I totally ignored him and then later realised it definitely was Thom Tuck. Its hard not to recognise Thom. I did it only the other week, yet here I was totally not recognising him, despite him being right there. I blame his hair being all slick back like he owned a yacht. He blamed me being rude. I think he is right.
So ultimately I think I’m a tad hooked. Despite my singing experience at James Sherwood’s gig I am going to annoy Danielle and Martin to do it at some point. I’ve already conjured up a list of things I might do, and I’ve got way too excited. However, it also appears to be a pretty quality night and not only would I bring that down a tad, but I’d also have to stand next to a clown and there’s a high chance I’ll freak out and hurt someone. Like him. Or more likely, me. Bloody clowns. Bloody karaoke. Yey Karaoke Circus. Get your tix for Edinburgh nowish: