Christmas Entertainer Humiliation: A Confession

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 11th December 2012.

Many moons ago, I played drums and sang with a moderately unsuccessful rock band. We were big in Japan. Well, I wasn’t, but the guitarist Scott was quite tall and well above the average height for Japanese men. One Christmas, the bass player Craig and I were hired to play a corporate Christmas party for a non-specific engineering company.

The theme for the party was medieval times and we were to be jesters. I instantly had a bad feeling about this, Han Solo style, when I was asked if either of us played the lute or pan flute. “Err, no,” I replied. “But Craig can play the guitar and I will sing.” At the time, we were both poor university students, and despite our reservations about the gig we were both skint and desperately needed the $300 appearance fee.

Besides, we only needed to dress up in tights and entertain the guests as they arrived at the function marquee set up in Parramatta Park. What was the worst that could happen? Well, the answer to that question is that the organiser could forget to mention that we also had to lead the party in a 20 minute Christmas carol sing-a-long.

I don’t know if you’ve ever attended a boozy corporate function, but trust me, the last thing you would ever want to do is sing carols. I take that back, the last thing you would ever want to do is sing carols with me. Even worse still, the function manager had requested that we also perform a version of John Williamson’s little known ditty, No-one Loves Brisbane like Jesus, replacing Brisbane with the name of the engineering company’s manager. This was going to be a massacre.

The pre-event entertaining went well. Craig and I sang some covers from our usual band set. I carried around a kiddie size guitar that I pretended to strum. No-one seemed to notice that we weren’t playing lutes or pan flutes. The tights were pretty comfortable.

At show time, we were led to the stage like lambs to the slaughter… lambs with little jester hats on their heads. By this time, the crowd was mid-dinner and well hydrated.  We introduced ourselves, invited the audience to sing along and launched into our first carol.

To be fair, they respected us enough as performers to not boo through the first minute. They were probably too shocked by the talent black hole on stage to make a noise. We must’ve looked hungry too because they started to throw bread rolls at us soon after. You can imagine the reception to our “special” comedy song about the company manager.

We somehow managed to get through the set and left the stage with our dignity intact. Actually, we left the stage with a half dozen dinner rolls each and no dignity.

In my short career as a jester, musician and corporate entertainer, that Christmas gig was the worst ever. I’ll never forget the jeers and humiliation. To this day, I have never hired an engineer from that firm. I’ve never needed the services of one either, but that’s not the point.

So this Christmas, spare a thought for mediocre performers everywhere. Wait until the end of the carol before jeering and always butter the bread rolls before throwing them.

Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 08:28  Leave a Comment  
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