at the end of may 2005, i made a 12-hour drive from provo to portland to work on a movie called the sasquatch dumpling gang. maybe it'll be in theaters one day.
it had been a while since i had done a feature, and i didn't know the other camera assistants before arriving, so i was kind of nervous about doing a good job. i took the serious approach, keeping quiet but trying to work as hard as i could. my reasoning was that i would rather be a diligent loader who was cool once you got to know me than a guy trying to be funny and doing an ok job.
it was hard at first, as i could never seem to say anything interesting even when i wanted to and was sure they would fire me any day for not being fun to work with.
next to the hotel where we stayed was the 'high rocks' lounge, which is a euphemism for 'smokey restaurant'. every saturday night they had karaoke, so one saturday night my roommate and i went over the check it out. a lot of the crew liked to sing, and it was fun seeing people in a little more of a relaxed environment. i looked at the song selection, hoping to find 'beyond the sea,' but had no such luck. it didn't matter, as the clock soon struck midnight and i headed back to the hotel.
but i am a sucker for karaoke, and kept thinking about it throughout the week. people were talking about it on set, asking me if i was going to sing. the production manager and one of the make-up girls said they would dance with me if i got up there, so i had some support. i said i wasn't sure, because the song i wanted to sing wasn't available.
...but i had another plan brewing.
saturday night came around, and i was nervously sitting in my hotel room, trying to build up my courage. i had the song i wanted to sing, and if i could pull this off, it would be really cool.
the danger of karaoke is that many songs are easy to sing along with in your car, but when it's just your voice, your realize why those guys are making records and you aren't. [never try 'take on me'--you are asking for failure, unless you are jack]
i listened to the song on my computer a few times to make sure there weren't any surprises, then went out the door.
by now i had made some friends on the crew and found them at a table in the 'lounge.' someone was singing a song while kim and molly had a cool back-up dance going ['son of a preacher man', i think]. i ordered a strawberry lemonade and reached for the song book.
i thought about 'it's not unusual', but was told that it had already been done, so i made my choice, gave it to the dj, and took a sip of my drink.
after just one more song they called me, saying 'and next we have jeff!'
trying to act as cooly as i could, i got up and walked past my friends, none of whom knew what was coming up.
part of what made this so successful was the environment; the big screen tv that displayed the words was down on the main floor, surrounded by several small tables. there was a raised level behind that, with a few tables and the booths, which is where most of the crew was.
the place was full, allowing for energy to flow freely. this was crucial.
i took the mic as kim and molly came down to dance; and the kinetic beat of billy idol's 'dancing with myself' came on.
just being me, i did a little dance to the intro music.
the audience began to cheer.
i knew i had made the right choice.
what happened next i can only remember through emotion. the tumblers of the universe fell into place and for those three minutes and nineteen seconds, i was a rock star; i was ferris bueller.
i sang with a rebel yell, walking between tables like i owned the place, jumping as electricity flowed through the place like a superconductor. kim and molly kept up. flashes were going off.
when it was all over, guys i had never seen were giving me hi-five's, girls i didn't know were giving me hugs, and the crew was amazed. 'where did that come from??' i heard.
sitting back down at the table, tyler awarded me 'an infinite number of moxy points.'
i felt pretty cool.
i saw the video later that summer. it has dancing zombies. that is really cool.
i still smile whenever i hear it.