Tim Key: I wouldn't say I've travelled the world to listen to karaoke, but...

 

Share

My God. I love karaoke. Not doing it, obviously. But watching it. Or, more accurately, listening to it. I'm in the thrall of some now. Sat by a temple, in a deckchair, guzzling Perrier and beholding some real grade-A stuff. The sun's beating down, the air is full to the brim of amateur vocals and I am a pig in shit.

I'm in Taiwan and this is one serious karaoke session.

Today, my friend Nuggets and I have hired bikes to have a snoop around a lake. We dined on Taiwanese pasta on a jetty and we were just riding back round to the cycle shop when this curious warbling drifted into our path. As if hypnotised by Taiwanese sirens we found ourselves locking our bikes and walking hand-in-hand to the source of these glorious notes. And now here we are, watching a Taiwanese man in a Hawaiian shirt pumping out Chinese songs like his life depends on it. It's 3pm for heaven's sake. And he's performing with the energy and commitment of a young Mick Hucknall.

I've always loved karaoke. Especially abroad. I wouldn't say I've travelled the world to listen to it. But I certainly have found that it's whilst travelling that I've enjoyed it most. Maybe it's because in England it's too closely associated with drunkenness and there's slightly too high a risk that I'll join in. I know I shouldn't sing, but sometimes karaoke can be a bit overwhelming and I find myself up there and the whole thing's ruined. I'm the same with dancing and cooking, I know I shouldn't do them, but sometimes I'm at a wedding or I'm in my kitchen and BANG! It's happening. I know I have that in me with karaoke. I once sang "All That She Wants (Is Another Baby)" in Newquay.

The Hawaiian shirt has already asked us if we want to sing. It felt fairly easy to say no. I don't understand Chinese characters and I couldn't even explain that to him, so the chances of me getting through their equivalent of "My Way" must be ever so slim. And so we watch.

We order a couple of beers and we watch. We're at the bottom of a totally whacko temple, and the sun's bouncing off that so the whole thing feels magical. It's like the 1992 Olympic diving, when they popped it outside, with a load of Barcelona behind it. Iconic. And in years to come, when I think about karaoke, it will be this session I think about. We've been here about 45 minutes now. Nuggets is filming bits of it for his travelogue. Catching snatches of elderly folk flicking through song bibles, middle-aged men, on their way home from work, belting one out before their tea; a spicy gentleman dressed in green and drinking juice through a straw, dancing like a madman. And, at its epicentre, the Hawaiian. Bossing it.

The song bible's been passed to us again and there's a bit more enthusiasm for us to get up and give it a go. It looks impenetrable though. It would be complete guesswork. Nuggets is saying the same. If anything he looks less likely to crack than me. I leaf through.

I do sometimes think that, with belief, anything can be achieved. Especially on holiday. I once ate monkey brain for a dare and another time, in France, I jumped from a high rock into a river. Mind over matter. I wonder whether, with the right attitude, I could maybe do a passable rendition of one of the more simple Taiwanese anthems. Mmm…

The Hawaian shirt's a born performer. He's gesturing from the stage now. Trying to whip the other Taiwanese guys into a frenzy, get some momentum. He really wants us to get up and sing. Nuggets rules himself out again. But I'm up. Who cares? I drain my beer and make my way to the stage. It's a language barrier, not a language wall. I can hop over. This'll be fine.

Tim Key will be performing 'Single White Slut' at the Edinburgh Fringe, Aug 13-25

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence