After watching many interviews on late-night shows and
day-time shows during the past year, I’ve become keenly aware of the old go-to
stories that celebrities tell. Often, I don’t enjoy hearing the same one or two
stories from people as they do the rounds on talk shows to sell their latest
project. They usually have no variation. They have practiced the story dozens
of times, pausing for laughs in the same places, even if no one laughs. (The
one story I do enjoy each time I hear it is James Acaster’s Pin Drop band
story. Look for that one if you get the chance.) But this got me thinking about
what some of my talk-show stories might be. Here’s the first one.
After I had lived in LA for a few years, I started taking voice
lessons. To what end? Who can say? We got the trades at work and I did see an
ad in the one for variety acts for a local cabaret night, so I answered the ad.
I discussed the songs I knew with my voice teacher and we
decided I should sing “Another Hundred People,” by Stephen Sondheim. The promoter
who was trying to get the cabaret night together had hired a piano player, so I
just needed to bring the sheet music to the audition.
I went to the audition, at the club, The Palms, in West
Hollywood. I told a gay friend of mine that I was singing there and he asked me
if I was sure, because it was a lesbian bar. Sure. No problem.
The audition was acapella and the promoter was sufficiently
pleased that I got the job. It paid 2 free drinks at the bar the night of. I
wasn’t doing this for the money, so that was fine with me. I left a photocopy
of my music for the pianist.
I don’t remember much about before the show. I knew where
the club was from the audition. I parked at a pay garage instead of driving around
and around looking for a meter, so already I was losing money on this gig. There
wasn’t so much a stage as one of end of the room with a keyboard and
microphone. I sang and the piano player played…something. He certainly wasn’t playing
the song I was doing. I probably starting singing faster and faster, just
wanting to finish this weird duet of voice and noodling. It was excruciating
for me. I don’t think the audience noticed, if they were even paying attention.
I finished the song and took the one step from stage to
crowd. I made my way to the bar. I traded in one drink ticket for a coke. “You
could have something stronger,” the bartender suggested. No, just a coke.
A woman, older than me by maybe 40 years, who can best be
described as Popeye, sat beside me and started to chat me up. I was polite, but
I don’t think I even finished my drink before leaving the club. Did I thank the
promoter? I don’t know. Did I stay and watch the rest of the show? No. How rude
of me. I left and was thankful that I didn’t have to walk far to the parking garage.
I don’t think I answered any other ads looking for singers
after that. Not that it was a horrible experience, just that it wasn’t for me.
I guess that’s why I’m not famous.