Everyone Has the Flu: Will Karaoke Give Me a Disease?
Illustration by Mike Gorman
Karaoke can be a dangerous endeavor. What can you sing that won't make friends shun you? How can you go balls-out during your next performance? Each week in "Ask a Karaoke Host," RFT Music writer and professional karaoke host Allison Babka answers your burning questions about maximizing your melodious mutterings and minimizing your friends' pain. Ask her stuff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or hashtagging #rftkaraoke on Twitter.
Can karaoke make me sick? Should the host disinfect the mic between songs? -- Touch Me, I'm Sick
This is a timely question, as approximately 80 gajillion people in the United States currently have the flu. Naturally, you don't want to suck up other people's bad germs more than you have to, but some of you practically lick the mic like a ... er, nevermind... so you're constantly tempting fate, anyway. But would disinfecting the microphone between singers really help? I have my doubts, but I'm no medical genius. Christine Farris, a registered nurse at a local hospital, is, though. Here's what she told me:
I don't think it's appropriate to expect the karaoke host to disinfect the microphone between songs. What is expected is knowing that you shouldn't sing karaoke if you are sick. No one wants the germs or to hear your hacking bronchitis version of "Tainted Love" (No, it doesn't give you a "husky, sexy voice." It's just obnoxious, and it makes me want to shove a lozenge in your mouth). If the idea of singing after other people bothers you, bring your own sanitizing wipes, or perhaps just stay out of karaoke bars altogether. But karaoke by normal, healthy people, won't make you sick any more than other activities will -- unless you are intensely making out with the microphone. I would discourage that, even if you are singing a Prince song or trying to do your best impression of Trent Reznor from the "Closer" music video.
You know, I think that lady's kind of swell.
But there you go. Sing without fear, but also sing with consideration for your healthy friends. If you're sick, stay home. Period.