Having witnessed numerous cabaret acts in the last two years of my life, I can say pretty confidently that the points listed below are six significant dont’s. Please take them into serious consideration, if you are thinking about performing your own cabaret.
1. Don’t belt an entire song.
No matter how vocally skilled you are, ain’t nobody gonna wanna hear that. Prove to your audience that you can tell a story through your singing. Save those climactic and earth-shattering notes for when they really matter, for when you will get the most bang for your buck. Plus, you don’t want the audience wondering if you’re developing nodes as you try to sing your own belt-tastic rendition of “Under the Sea.”
2. Don’t shit on other performers.
Sure, a joke made in good taste that isn’t spiteful can be funny as long as we can tell you’re kidding. However, if you’re genuinely mocking one of your peers — well, that just makes you look insecure and desperate. I mean, c’mon, be original and find something else to scoff at — the state of our U.S. Government, for example.
3. Don’t talk about your sex life.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I don’t want to hear about how you lost your virginity, felt weird about it and now here’s the song you wrote about it. I guarantee that whatever you write, it will include an incredibly uncomfortable hook that goes something like, “All night by candlelight.” And do you want to know how that makes us feel? Awkward as fuck.
4. Don’t throw things into the audience.
Glitter, candy, Barbie Dolls — whatever it is, don’t throw your personal props into an unsuspecting audience. First of all, your aim from stage is inevitably terrible — you can’t see anything. You’ll probably hit someone in the face, and then you, the venue or both could be sued. But secondly, and more importantly: what if I’m enjoying a nice, warm bowl of butternut squash soup? I don’t want glitter in that shit. If you ruin my $12 bowl of soup, I might hate you.
5. Don’t call out your band for “messing you up.”
Chances are you are the one that messed up, and trying to publicly pin it on your music director or band is just tacky. Not to mention very DIVA. Take the flub on the chin, and keep it movin’. If you do have to start a number over and you do it with a smile, we will absolutely find you a million times more charming. No performer or performance is perfect, so don’t let a slight mistake result in an onstage blame-game.
6. Don’t look miserable.
I mean, this one is pretty damn obvious. If you look like you want to cry or if your eyes look like they’ve been stabbed out with teeny-tiny forks, we will know that you are despising every second of your performance. This makes us feel sad, and taken for granted. We, who love you, shelled out a substantial chunk of change to watch you perform, so please don’t look like you want to die. Don’t make us doubt how cool you are. Have fun, give us the time of our lives, and make us want to come back for more. We know you have it in you.