#3: Take risks! Don’t be boring!

Photo: Marco Quiroga Marazzato

Besides the obvious rules about respecting the individuals and equipment of AK, this is the only rule I wish could be enforced:

Please, please, please… for the love of God, DON’T BORE US!

What’s boring?

1. Imitating the voice of the original singer instead of singing in your own voice.

2. Concentrating only on your singing — even if you’re a good singer! — and not remembering that the show is just as visual as it is aural. This is a stage, not a recording studio. Connect with all these people in front of you!

3. Most offensive of all: ignoring the audience. This often happens with groups, who often behave as if they were having their own private party onstage. Everyone puts on a wig and boa, and no one bothers to sing. The song’s not gonna sing itself, dammit! Show some respect for the 300-something people that have paid 8 bucks to see… well, not that.

4. Standing there like a tree, arms like dead branches at your side, eyes glued to the lyrics, while reading them mechanically from the music stand. What is this, a show or a reading test? If you’re gonna get onstage, you’re gonna have to bring more to it than that.

[I understand that some people get stage fright and freeze up, but that's another kind of disaster which doesn't figure here.]

You know what’s boring? PERFECTION. This is not Operación Triunfo; you’re not being graded by a panel of judges on how technically perfect you are. No one here cares if you have perfect pitch. All we want, really, is to be interested. And it’s much more interesting to watch someone screw up horribly, then flounder around for the rest of the song trying to figure out what the hell happened and how to salvage their dignity, than to just stand there and perfectly recite the entire ditty. Whoop-dee-doo, what do you want, a medal?

There’s something far worse than making a mistake, and that’s being uninteresting. Forgettable.

This has nothing to do with talent or ability. It boils down to this: if you have nothing to say, nothing to share on an energetic level, then it’s better to stay in the audience. No one’s forcing you to perform. Or go to a regular karaoke, where that kind of half-assed attitude is acceptable.

Think of it from the audience’s point of view. What kinds of things would you like to see in a performance? How would you respond to watching a dead scarecrow onstage for 3-5 minutes? That’s right: “Bathroom break!”

This ain’t brain surgery, where getting every detail right is a matter of life or death. It’s a show. The beauty, the excitement, is in the imperfections. The improvisations. The fuck-ups. The danger of maybe fucking up. We want to see you, not a robot. So take a chance! Talk to us. Be dangerous. “Here we are now; entertain us!”

Even if being “dangerous” for you means simply walking away from the music stand and going to the border of the stage to shake somebody’s hand or make direct eye contact with them, it’s an important step.

So take that step outside your comfort zone.  For a few minutes, put your comfort aside. The audience will appreciate it, and so will you.


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