Open mics, talent shows, and the like…I can’t resist them, no matter how crazy or cheesy it seems. Maybe I’m just a glutton for applause (or possibly punishment?), but I think it’s more likely that I do it because I adore music and love to perform. And I perform with high hopes that others will enjoy listening as much as I enjoy playing and singing.
So I caught wind of a Regents Park’s talent show coming up in third week and decided, after about 4 whole seconds of careful deliberation, that I would do it. I had just purchased a new (PINK!!!) electric Fender and was dying to put it to use. What better opportunity? Of course, this was still pretty early on in the term and I imagined that playing in front of all my new classmates could successfully impress or could equally go horribly wrong. After all, first impressions are lasting ones…They should also add to the canon of proverbs that fear is a great motivator. So for the next few days I practiced furiously, with both of these nuggets of wisdom lodged firmly in mind.
I decided to perform a bluesy-folksy song I had written several months prior and had performed a few times back in the States. I even convinced my friend David to play violin along with me. And so our musical act was born. 1 song, 2 instruments, and about 3-ish minutes of music total. Perfect talent show material. (At least we hoped).
Thankfully we rocked out at Regents that Friday night and were relatively well-received by the crowd. The music was going full blast and so was the bar, so perhaps we can’t take all the credit for our outstanding performance. We were not the official winners as declared by coin donations and popular vote, BUT we still got invited to compete in the upcoming ‘Oxford’s Got Talent’ competition the following night, so we pretty much felt like winners.
We were scheduled to perform in the ever-so-posh Lecture Hall inside the Oxford Union on Saturday night. I was happy to get a chance to go to the Union, because normally you would have to pay 200 pounds to become a member and go to the events. But because it was a student talent competition and we were performing, I could get in for absolutely free, sans the illustrious badge of membership. Cool.
**Just a side note: Guest lecturers at the Oxford Union have included Natalie Portman, Jimmy Carter, Ian McKellen, and other famous people. In short, the perceived prestige of the Oxford Union is not to be underestimated. The actual prestige is something I’m not qualified to judge. But, given the amount of keynote members, mingled with the high concentration of high-priced cuff links and cocktails, I can only assume that membership costs 200 quid for a reason. *
Back to Oxford’s Got Talent:
The entirety of the competition lasted sooooo long. Our actual performance was only a few minutes long but we must’ve been sitting in audience for four hours or more. Of course, it was a very entertaining four hours so the time didn’t pass excruciatingly slow.
Our performance, unfortunately, was a little lackluster compared to the previous night, because we had some major sound and balance issues to fight against. We didn’t do as well as we would’ve liked, but we did perform with confidence and chalked it all up for experience in the end.
Among some of the other acts in the competition were comedians, dancers, a rock band with a one-armed drummer (a la Def Leppard), not one but TWO ukulele players (?), and — my personal favorite — a guy who showed off his lightning-speed Tetris skills via projector screen. I, like the rest of the people in that auditorium beamed to see nerdiness so keenly glorified.
There were a few acts, including a cross-dressed version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” which fell a bit shy of what one might call “talent” in the traditional sense. But what may have failed to impress did NOT cease to entertain.
I left the Union that night delightfully entertained and fully convinced that Oxford students possess a whole lot more than just academic talent, but an abundance of creative talent as well…and a few other interesting things.