When my friend, “The Poet” announced to me last week, “You’re coming to Karaoke with me Thursday, it’s a contest, I need support!” I knew there was no way I was getting out of it… But, darlings, of course I was there for her, because that’s what Guru’s are for.
Thursday night brought the Time Out Sports Bar & Grill Karaoke Finals in Manchester and, humoring The Poet and having been once before, I didn’t object too much. Now, I don’t keep secrets from you, my loves. So, you know that my biggest fear is getting stabbed in a bar. (Stabbed with a knife or other sharp object, to be specific. I mean, cause I’ve been “stabbed” in a bar before, but…..OK, moving on… ) That’s why I wasn’t a big participant in The CuT’s: Dive Quest. The CuT’s semi-continuing series profiling The Nutmeg State’s dive bars. Let’s face it, I have no business in a sports bar. Sure, large flat screens of men in tight pants are great, but that football game they’re playing is Greek to me.
Time Out Sports Bar and Grill is undeniably a sports bar, it is in the name after all. At first glance I felt rather confident that while at Time Out, my biggest fear would be realized. However, the staff is warm, and inviting and even the roughest looking of patrons seems to make you feel welcome. Regardless, I was a little nervous, until I saw a lesbian. The presence of lesbians always makes me feel safe.
I thought the contest was off to a rather slow start when we arrived at quarter past 8, but it turned out the contest didn’t actually start until 9. In the mean time my friend sang a warm up song, and I had a warm-up drink.
A girl named Allison kicked off the contest by singing Madonna’s, “Like a Prayer”. Because my love of Madonna is right on par with the stereotypical, I was thrilled with Allison’s song selection and felt as though, it was as if she knew I was going to be there, and she was singing directly to me.
The second song performed was Reba McIntire’s, “Fancy (Don’t Let Me Down)” — a favorite traveling song for Anti-Couric and the Prissy Bitch — as sung by some lady, who let us down. To her credit, Madonna is a tough act to follow, and while Reba is a diva in her own right, the selection didn’t exactly flow together with the previous song. Also, the pre-recorded back-up vocals were a hair louder, and better than the lady singing. The next few performances went downhill from there until Yvonne stepped in and brought it back with a fabulous, if not ballsy version of “At Last.” But the vibe of Yvonne’s great performance didn’t last long until the next contestant came along and butchered an Evanescence song. (That’s quite a task, since no one knows what those weird goths are singing anyway.)
Next up was Johnny and his song was Cypress Hill’s, “Insane in the Membrane.” I thought this was an odd choice for a tall skinny white kid, and I braced myself accordingly. Well darlings, I nearly fell out of my chair…Johnny was AWESOME. I did not see that coming. Johnny was followed by this chick who announced she too was singing “At Last” but made it a point to emphasize she was singing “the Etta James version,” which I guess meant “Not as good as Yvonne,” because it wasn’t.
The next dude that sang was Brian. I’ll tell you darlings, he was the hands down winner in my book. He could have sang the freakin Barney theme song for all I care, because he had an ass that could crack a walnut, which I was so intently focused on during his performance that I didn’t actually hear a thing. Sorry folks, didn’t snap a picture to prove it, so you’re going to have to take my word for it. But darlings, you know I never lie to you.
The last singer, for the first round gave me a moral dilemma I struggled with for the rest of the night. I mean, she was really good (and I do mean really good) but she was sort of unfortunate looking. To be quite honest, she kind of, sort of resembled a “villain” from Angry Birds…which made me want to sling-shot birds at her. There was a 15 minute break between the first and second round. I had thought the panel of judges, who I believe consisted previous contest winners, would eliminate people from the first round, but everyone from the first round got a second shot.
While outside having a cigarette during the break, I ran into Laurie, one of Time Out’s bartenders. She overheard me gushing about the guys who came in wearing basket ball shorts. “They just finished playing a volleyball game” she said. I responded, “I don’t care, they’re wearing basketball shorts and the VPL (visible penis line) is working for me.” I then confessed to Laurie that I didn’t feel quite “at home” at Time Out and had an irrational fear of being stabbed. She informed me that they had a pretty large gay clientele, “well, mostly lesbians.” I told Laurie that made sense…because it’s an effing sports bar.
Things picked up quickly in the second round with Yvonne up first. She belted out the disco hit, “Last Dance” and she was equally as amazing as she was in the first round. The lady who sang Reba’s “Fancy” in the first round, let us down again in the second with a dismal country song….which I suppose is a bit redundant. Brian, the fellow with the fantastic ass, sang “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain, and though I didn’t hear a word thanks to his muscley attractiveness, my friends tell me his round two performance was better than the first round.
The “villan” from Angry Birds was equally as awesome with her second round performance as she was in the first round, but by this point I was drunk enough to have convinced myself that she totally stole the Angry Bird’s eggs and I was growing terribly resentful. Johnny disappointed in the second round with the six minute-long “Black” by Pearl Jam. His singing was just fine, I just don’t like Pearl Jam. I also learned that a song this length is considered rude amongst the unspoken laws of the ancient art of karaoke.
It was right about at this point in the night that I decided to live by the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” so I stopped taking performance notes. Better late than never I suppose. It was perfect timing too, earlier in the evening I had made some Facebook comment about where I was for the evening. A friend I haven’t seen in ages and self-described “Facebook addict” was in the neighborhood so she stopped by to say hello. Notable because it’s the first time Facebook stalking has ever gone in my favor. After some long overdue catching up with my friend, it was time to announce the winners of the Karaoke contest.
My darling friend Allison — who was my favorite — was completely overlooked for runner-up, and that instead went to someone I hadn’t thought was worth mention. My friend “The Poet” was also completely shut out. Yvonne won the contest, and I think, deservedly so. She had been excellent.
As for the losers, there’s always next year…
I would like to thank Allison and Yvonne and an especially big thank you to Brian with the sweet ass, for letting me mention them in my article. I’m sure they didn’t expect to be written about when they set out for Karaoke last Thursday. And poor Brian, it’s probably not every day that a big gay dude comes up to him in a Sports Bar and says, “I’m writing an article about the Karaoke contest, can I mention your ass?” I should thank Brian’s friend Amanda, who assured me that Brian had a good sense of humor and wouldn’t beat me up for asking. Without you darlings, the Gay Guru is nothing.
For that matter, a Karaoke contest is nothing without the people bold enough to get up in front of a crowd of strangers and sing. While I did poke fun at the performers, good, bad or ugly, I admire the chutzpa it takes to get up there and perform. I only wish I could get drunk enough to do it!
For a refresher on how we judge our dive bars, it was based on a wide variety of criteria — including but not limited to whether they have Erotic Photo Hunt available, and how long we can play on a single dollar — and assigning each category a score of 0-5. We, of course reserve the right to abandon this scoring system at any time.
As far as the The CuT’s Time Out Sports Bar & Grill’s Dive Quest Report Card:
Drink Prices: 2 – They were a little skimpy on the Grey Goose, which pours much slower than the cranberry juice.
Menu: 5 – Wide selection and everything looked pretty yummy.
Erotic Photo Hunt: 2.5 – Time Out had a machine that looked Erotic Photo Hunt capable, but I didn’t thoroughly inspect it, so I’m going with 2.5 cause there’s a 50/50 shot
Jukebox: 0 – I don’t recall actually seeing one, but there are lots of flat screen tv’s…does that count? Answer: No.
Bartender: 5 – Sure, the pours were light, but the girls work their asses off and they’re super friendly.
Likelihood of Waking Up with a Stranger: 4
Total Score: 22.5