Arts, Column

Testing the Limits of Entertainment Value

There I was, lounging on a chaise by the pool, watching the balmy and salty breeze tousling the heavy palm tree leaves. The warmth from the radiant sun was glorious—the aquamarine ocean sparkled off to the horizon in an Insta-worthy scene. The dreamy clouds in the pale-blue sky were fluffier than a rabbit’s cottontail, and I couldn’t have imagined a more idyllic setting when I was in Florida marinating over Easter break. Even the iguanas were perched on the rocks in the distance, with their endearing, wiry tails and sun bathing routine. There was even a live band playing music, which was the multi-colored sprinkle topping on a whipped-cream-covered ice cream sundae, and … you know what, that’s it, I’m sorry, I just can’t do this anymore.

I have to stop this saccharine narrative for a moment and acknowledge an inconvenient truth: the live entertainment was a one-man band with the voice of one of the Muppets, and his pitchy crooning fractured the blissful atmosphere that I had been waiting for since getting accosted by snowflake daggers all winter long. And for the record, I have mixed feelings about iguanas. Those scaly lizards slither and waddle around, and they seem harmless enough, but they’ve always got a sneer on their face, and the almanacs and horoscopes can’t seem to give me a legitimate explanation for their uncalled-for demeanor. But I digress.

If you had told me that Fozzie Bear or Gonzo was actually wailing into the mic the other day, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. One of the staff workers saw my family and I guffawing among ourselves, and said he was convinced a cat-dog creature had got its tail crunched under a car, and that was what we were actually hearing. But no, lucky for any furry mammals in the area, everyone was in the presence of a singer absolutely butchering a tropical version of “Just the Two of Us,” by Grover Washington and Bill Withers. I would have expected such an ear splitting, cringe-inducing spectacle from a bunch of tipsy tourists at beach karaoke night. But from someone that was actually getting paid to sing in front of living, breathing people … in public? Inconceivable.

Now, I can assure you, it wasn’t just me that was in awe of the questionable antics of this performer: a quick look around the pool showcased amused conversations and stifled laughter as people tried to decide if their ears were actually bleeding, or if the entertainment got everyone’s attention for the wrong reasons. If the goal was to entice guests to stick around and enjoy their vacation, well, I guess that mission was accomplished, because no one could bring themselves to leave the trainwreck on the makeshift stage next to the bar. Once people acknowledged that it was not a pleasant auditory experience, they had a lot of fun looking at a singer that was having a good time in all his unpleasant glory.

Few people set out to look at someone doing something they presumably love and cackle haughtily at the fact that it’s just not quite measuring up to what one would consider “good” entertainment. It took me several songs of good-faith effort to appreciate the music in all of its amateur-hour splendor to realize that I would be crushed under the weight of my cognitive dissonance if I insisted upon considering this spectacle in earnest. I wasn’t laughing at the performance because I felt the need to squash anyone’s dreams. My singing talents are marginally better than the melodic tunes of a beached whale, so I’m not one to judge others for what they can or cannot do. People say all the time that they can’t sing, but the fun thing was that this logic didn’t stop this artist from going up there and jamming out anyways.

I think there is something to be said about entertainment that grates on your last nerve to the point where you enjoy watching it. I will certainly remember this delightfully dreadful performance for years to come, and that’s more than I could say for a perfectly average, ultimately dull band that I wouldn’t have thought twice about. All dramatic, saturated description aside, it takes guts to go on stage and perform for an audience, and that’s something for which I can set the jokes aside and acknowledge in earnest. But with that said, please consider lip syncing or autotune the next time you feel inclined to subject everyone to singing to which even Bob Dylan would do a facepalm.

Featured Image by Associated Press

April 19, 2017

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