Dom Joly: Hooked on piano ditties and pathetic phalluses

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The Independent Online

So, as usual, I come late to an internet trend. Somebody told me about this thing called Chatroulette and, desperate to waste time and avoid having to write anything, I gave it a go. I was hooked immediately. It's a very simple premise. You simply log on and turn on your webcam.

There you are, sitting and staring vacantly at the screen while you are randomly connected to other people sitting and looking equally vacant at their computer screens. You can hit the "next" button and move on to another random selection whenever you feel like it. This can be a bit tense as nobody wants to be "shunted", so you tend to press "next" pretty quickly just to show the other person how unimpressed you are by their vacant stare.

That's how it's supposed to work anyway. The reality seems to be rather a lot of penises. I don't mean that the people you're linked up to are penises, but about every fifth connection the vacant person staring back is replaced by somebody waving his penis at you. This, I hasten to add, is not why I'm addicted to this site.

No, I like it because of the wonderful random nature of it that keeps you hanging on, waiting to see what the next connection will bring. In a sense it's a bit like haphazardly ringing on people's front doors and then, when they open said door, just staring at them until they shut it again. Except these front doors open on to the bedrooms.

I tweeted about how much I loved this site, and was immediately told, in no uncertain terms by my trendy followers how "last week" I was. Having chastised me, my helpful twits then pointed me in the direction of the Chatroulette Piano Man. This is a guy who has taken things to the next level. Not content with merely staring at the vacant people who appeared on his screen, the Piano Man sits ready at his piano, making up little ditties about whoever shows up in front of him. It's very funny and you should check it out, although you are so last week if you haven't already seen it last week. My only disappointment is that Piano Man does not feature any of the penises in his song compilations. This, I feel is a cop-out. I'd love to see him attempt to sing a pithy ballad about a dancing phallus. The internet is essentially boiling down to, is a man wearing a hooded cagoule singing about a stranger's penis while playing the piano.

Another curious element of Chatroulette is that more than 50 per cent – not a scientific survey – of users seem to feel it necessary to wear sunglasses indoors. These sunglasses, more than often, seem to be mirrored aviators. At first I presumed that these were either to disguise the participants or to make themselves look cool and intriguing. Now, however, I've seen so many people wearing them that I'm starting to wonder whether there is a dress code that I never received?

It's difficult to remember at what precise age you suddenly realised that you looked a complete prat in mirrored sunglasses – indoors. At a guess, it was probably about 25, although I do still know the occasional acquaintance who continues with the practice. Better that, I suppose, than waving your penis online at complete strangers?

Maybe some of the online manhoods that I've seen in the last couple of days actually belonged to friends of mine? Maybe they gave up wearing mirrored aviators indoors in order to pursue their first love of online flashing? It's all very confusing and a long way from checking your computer once a day for emails, but what can I do? I'm simply