Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

My S.O. and I had a very normie night out yesterday; we went to a gastro-pub in Laval to watch a hockey game with some co-workers. People called ahead, the big screens would be set up for us, it's all good. So we get there, eat a very good meal, commiserate about the game, make some jokes, everyone's thrilled. When out the corner of my eye I see a man in a sport coat futzing about with a laptop and some gear on a small stage about 20 feet away.

Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

I think nothing of it until the second intermission of the game, when most of the screens in the pub turn to the static image of a mountain lion with headphones on, yowling into a microphone, advertising "Karaoke Sunday: Take a Bite Out of Music!" This was not mentioned in any of the email chains my coworkers were in. I wasn't ready for it. None of us were ready for it. But it was going to happen anyways. We were going to have karaoke happen to us.

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

One of the more gregarious people in our party flagged down the guy who seemed to be the karaoke MC, and asked him if every screen in the pub *had* to be used for karaoke, and if some could be reallocated to the game. The MC very curtly pointed to the smallest screen in the joint, one half our party had their back to, and said "There's your precious game." It was on. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Karaoke was indeed going to happen to us.

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

Now I don't know if you know this about yours truly, but I'm what you would call an "introvert." I like company but crowds kind of exhaust me, and while I do dig karaoke, it's not something that I'd do spontaneously. I need to get amped up for it. "Surprise karaoke" is a non-starter. Reader, I got T-boned by karaoke last night, and I could feel my mind melt the longer we stayed. This MC used karaoke for evil. He used karaoke as a cudgel against us.

Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

So with absolutely no preamble, no crowd work, and no foreplay whatsoever, homeboy launched into a torpid, mush-mouthed, and distressingly earnest performance of "New Kid in Town" by the Eagles. It was the karaoke equivalent of getting yelled at by your weird uncle. I started deep into my raspberry sour and counted the seconds down. I wasn't ready for this. None of us were ready for this.

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

A fiction started to form in my head. Maybe he once wanted to be a singer. Maybe shit didn't shake out. Next thing he knew he was pushing 50 and managing a restaurant in the Kafkaesque nightmare that is the North Shore. But dreams don't die that easily. Maybe he started this karaoke night as a way to bridge his past and his present. Instead it looked like he got an inch and became the petty tyrant of 100 sq ft of floor space in a gastropub lin Laval.

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

That's where the fiction stopped because I couldn't get over how bad this guy was at running karaoke. He would play interstitial music videos and they cut them short after the second chorus. He would sing harmony on songs uninvited. He provided NO BANTER between songs. ZERO CROWD WORK. He needled out table with the score of the hockey game. He clutched his hosting duties like a pair of brass knuckles, and we were all the Glass Joe in the other corner

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

But that was only the beginning. There was the dude who sang "Tequila" by the Champs, a song with three total words in the lyrics, and missed on of them. There was the dude built like a defensive lineman trucking his way through "Tight Fittin' Jeans" by Conway Twitty. There was the dude who slurred his way through "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits, a song with two extended guitar solos, and sang the title of the song with a cartoon Italian accent.

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

And there was the dude who sang all five minutes and 19 seconds of "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M., numbers one through five in the karaoke party foul list, and followed it up with "Like a Stone" by Audioslave.

I think homeboy needed a hug.

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Story Time with Derek: "A Gastro-Pub in Laval" 

After all that I needed a hug too.

-30-

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