How to Cheat the High Notes in Karaoke
How much power does the KJ have to control the stage, to tell a singer they must stop, chill or leave? -- Shaddup You Face
As a KJ (also known as a karaoke DJ, karaoke host or *gulp* karaoke jock), my job is to help the bar rake in moolah, which I do by making sure the guests are safe and happy, providing sufficient entertainment and keeping the show moving. If something or someone disrupts any of that -- and, consequently, the good vibes that contribute to big bar tabs -- I need to eliminate the source. Not in the Sopranos way, of course.
In The Wedding Singer, Adam Sandler informs the crowd, "I have a microphone and you don't, SO YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERY DAMN WORD I HAVE TO SAY." I'm not quite so belligerent, but the sentiment stands. My fictional Uncle Ben told me that with a great microphone comes great responsibility. It's my responsibility to let a guy know that dropping the mic upon finishing a song isn't acceptable. It's my responsibility to tell a girl that jumping into someone's tune when she's unwanted isn't cool. It's my responsibility to inform more people than you'd think that hovering over me while I'm trying to do my job won't be tolerated. In varying degrees, I'm an emcee, a bouncer, an entertainer, a daycare chaperone and a protector. And I'm extremely lucky to be stationed at a bar that supports me in all of those roles.
I don't mean to imply that I'm the principal from The Breakfast Club or anything. The majority of customers are well behaved, and most karaoke nights pass with more revelry than incident. But if you ever see a KJ cut the music or dismiss a singer, it's likely that there's a good reason.
As a Friday-night karaoke host at a south-county bar, Allison Babka receives her share of drunken song dedications, occasionally makes people cry and even has been glorified by a singing psychic. She's considering adding "Call Me Maybe" to her personal karaoke repertoire, and she hates herself for it. Bug her with karaoke nonsense on Twitter at @ambabka, and use #rftkaraoke.