Monday, April 04, 2005

Joke-E-Oke

So there's this new variation on karaoke called "joke-e-oke." Instead of singing a song, you do a standup comic routine -- reading the jokes off a teleprompter. For instance, you might deliver bits by Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock. And you can either choose to deliver the jokes in their trademark style or go your own way.

I read about this phenomenon in a story on Wired News (forwarded to me by my brother Max) and figured I should check it out.

Friday night Kelly and I went to the RX Gallery, a lounge near Union Square that's the proving grounds of this new technology/art form. I figured the place would be crowded, since joke-e-oke must be taking the world by storm. But apparently the storm is of the calm, slow-moving variety, and there were only a handful of people there (more did arrive later, though). We sat near the front, and Kelly was soon recruited to do a joke-e-oke set.

Here's how it worked: You would go on stage, and they would tell you what comic you would be doing -- there was no choice in the matter. Kelly, for instance, got Woody Allen. And to make matters worse, the audience would be encouraged to heckle you. Every now and then, messages would flash across a big screen, such as "You suck!," and the audience would shout them at you.

Under the circumstance, I thought Kelly did pretty well. She managed to deliver the lines in Woody Allen's frustrated, exasperated style (though I suspect it because only because she was frustrated and exasperated). I went up later in the evening and did knock-knock jokes with another guy (who stepped on my lines).

Probably the most potentially embarrassing thing was the fact that an NPR reporter interviewed us afterwards for a story on joke-e-oke. I pray she doesn't use any of our interview because I seem to recall Kelly professing her admiration for Jeff Foxworthy and me saying something about how this wasn't as fun as singing El DeBarge "Rhythm of the Night."