Saturday, October 14, 2017

Guest Post by Harryoke (excerpt): "Keep Poking The Dog and Wonder Why He Barks"

A fellow member of one of the online KJ groups I belong to is a karaoke host and blogger under the name Harryoke. His real name is Harry Smith, and I asked his permission to publish the following excerpt from his March 28, 2014 blog post titled "When I Am Not At My Best In Public"...or "Keep Poking The Dog and Wonder Why He Barks" (ROTATION RANT) LOL. 

Read this and you'll understand more about the work of every karaoke host at every venue all over the world!

Florida KJ Harryoke
I love my job and love my people BUT if you have seen me flustered or anxious or excitable on a busy night, here is your explanation. I don't want anyone to take away from this read that I am frustrated, burned out or unhappy...that is NOT the case. This is just the darker side of what I deal with at work.

As a host, the hardest part of my job, HANDS DOWN, is rotation management on a busy night. Beyond 25 singers or so is what I would call a busy night. When the number goes more toward 50, you are ENSURED of having drama. Drama relates to rational people curious when their turn is, and irrational people who ask for things you CANNOT deliver, then refuse to accept NO for an answer.

The following are a few of the people and activities that set me off regularly on BUSY BUSY nights (keeping in mind the busier it gets, the greater percentage of the group that will become high-maintenance, AND the longer the wait, the more low-maintenance folks will become high-maintenance:

THE "WHEN AM I UP" FOLKS - "When am I up?" is a fair question. Once. Maybe twice. Beyond that they are becoming high-maintenance. If you are told you are 10 away, and come back to me after 2 singers, what do you think my answer will be? If you said 8, you are rational...but should not have asked me. If I said 8 and you complained or disputed me, you have become my new problem. The other problem with these folks is they wont take an approximate answer, it has to be exact, or I become the bad guy. Sometimes it is so busy, I cannot answer exactly. [And] when I am not exact, there is always someone [who will] stand in the audience telling everyone what an @$$hole I am for having such a long list and not getting them up soon enough. The variables on a busy night are people who sign up and leave, and people who do not hear their name because they ran upstairs or are out smoking, then return to find they missed their turn and are put back in. Given that info, if you come to me on a busy night and I tell you that you are 10 away, and 5 of those folks are no shows, you are then 5 away. You thought you had 40 minutes and went outside or upstairs, but I called you up in 20 minutes, you missed your turn and it's my fault.

THE "I HAVE TO LEAVE, BUMP ME UP SO I CAN LEAVE" FOLKS - That just works on NO level. They always say "no one will notice" but someone always will. My job is to put people in seats to put cash in the register. That is the clientele I cater to. I can't show favor to someone leaving OVER someone who is staying and will probably spend more. Economics aside, it is just wiser to run a fair rotation and not juggle. Waiting 2 hours to sing is easier when the singer know everyone is waiting. When a host shows favor to those leaving, it sends a horrible message.

THE "LET ME SING NEXT BECAUSE THESE SINGERS SUCK AND I AM BETTER THAN THEM" FOLKS - The fact that came out of your mouth explains why it is not going to happen, but I am sure you are going to stand here and argue with me about it.  

THE "YOU SKIPPED ME, I HAVE BEEN WAITING AN HOUR AND THAT PERSON HAS SUNG THREE TIMES ALREADY" FOLKS - Happens at every busy show. My rotation is in ink, I will show it to you. If you can show me the singer that sang three times and tell me the songs, I will give you $10,000. It did not happen. Yes you have been waiting an hour [because] it is a two-hour wait to sing tonight.

THE FOLKS WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE WORD NO - Occasionally I get to a point in the night where new sign-ups are impossible, and maybe some signed up will get bumped. It is at the end of the night, when I legally have to shut down to close the venue...that is the time when it really gets ugly. I explain that I cannot say past closing time, and people keep asking how I can do it. Yelling at me won't accomplish that, but they try. They are shocked that I won't take their money. Money cannot buy the impossible. When something is impossible, I say no. Somehow, they think I am not serious.

THE FOLKS WHO INTERRUPT YOU WHEN YOU ARE MULTITASKING - The people who ask you questions or talk to you while on mic making announcements or the people who see me running sound for a singer on stage, and dealing with a line of 2 or 3 singers with a question, and feel that coming in behind the singer and talking in my other ear is a great idea. Yes. It happens...all...the...time. The busier it is, the more it happens.

THE FOLKS WHO THINK A TIP IS A BRIBE or are otherwise generally ungracious -  I have seen people obviously offer me bribes...which I don't take. The real aggravation is when someone drops a couple of bucks in the jar or buys you a drink, then later when you can't fulfill a demand for them, they throw that in your face. Yes, that happens...even is no secret that I had a major accident back in 2004 and there was a fundraiser held to help keep my head above water. People have come to my show, and asked for something I could not do, and told me how much money they supposedly donated to me at that time and acted frustrated about that. And "I" am the ass in that scenario?

THE FOLKS WHO CAN'T READ THE BOOK BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THEIR GLASSES SO COME UP AND ASK WHAT SONGS YOU HAVE BY A CERTAIN ARTIST AND MAKE YOU READ THEM ALL TO THEM...OVER AND OVER - Which on a slow night is not a big deal. But when it happens a lot on top of a busy night it becomes high-maintenance. THE WORST is when they ask for a certain song by a certain artist. You pull it up on the computer and tell them NO, I DON'T HAVE THAT ONE unfortunately. They then stare at your computer screen and say "are you sure?" YES, I reply, looking again, trying alternative spellings...then they look at the screen a bit longer and look at me again and say..."so you still don't have it?" CORRECT, I continue to not have it. They then say, “I would sure like to have sung that.” [Even when I tell them] I have not seen it available, they say I should get it.

DRUNK FOLKS - While alcohol plays a role in some of the above scenarios, in between are people who are just plain drunk. This is an exception to the rule 90% of the time. We are not surrounded by imbeciles and drunks, by any means...don't think that is what I mean in this blog. However, it does not take many drunks to make a high-maintenance event, and my stories of dealing with them go on and on. Just not here.

There are many more scenarios, and many more stories...BUT, if you have been out on a busy night and seen me beating my head against the wall or pulling my hair out, be on the lookout for these folks mentioned in this blog, as well as others.  Feel free to comment and add your own observations and experience.

Keep Singing...  Harry

To see Harryoke's entire post, click here.

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