the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Life is a Cabaret

Sophia knows that I like cabaret, so she took me to this benefit where twenty of the top cabaret singers were going to perform.  We weren’t surprised to learn that much of the audience consisted of gay men, because we knew that gay men enjoyed this type of music.  It also wasn’t a big deal that most of the performers were gay.  We were surprised that the program consisted of romantic duets.

Then the singing began.  Romantic, emotional songs — sung by two men.  Sophia started to giggle.  I elbowed her, hoping that the three well-dressed gentlemen drinking chardonnay next to me didn’t hear.

One of the songs was from the 1970’s — I think it might have been a duet originally sung with Roberta Flack —

Male Singer 1:  "I want to wake up in your arms…"

Male Singer 2:  "I want to wake up in your arms…"

Male singer 1 & 2:  "…Together…"

Sophia had to force herself to not laugh, and ended up making all these gurgling sounds.  I leaned over to her:

"Sophia, act mature."

There was one duet after the other.  Sophia spent most of the concert biting her tongue and rolling her eyes.  I have to admit — I was getting embarrassed.

Finally, the last two singers came on stage for their duet.  One of the singers was a popular male cabaret singer.  The other was a special guest — a member of a well-known theater group that puts on musicals for deaf people. 

The began their romantic duet, the popular singer with his sexy baritone voice, and the special guest using his sign language.

If you know the famous "Chuckles the Clown" episode on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, you’ll know where this is going…

The baritone sang about love.  The duet partner signed back in a very expressive manner.  I understood that this was a wonderful thing to do — involving the deaf in music — but it was also the most ridiculous thing I ever witnessed.    Two men singing to each other.  One man deaf.

I laughed out loud.  And laughed.  And people looked my way, shaking their heads at my rudeness.  And I couldn’t stop myself.  I ran out, still guffawing.


  1. Modigli

    Milk and cereal almost came out of my nose while reading this one!

  2. Jack

    That is funny. There is something about laughing at/in appropriate time and places that is so much fun.

  3. Sophia

    This line from the concert still gets me:

    “Take off your silver spurs

    and help me pass the time

    And I will give to you summer wine

    Ohhh-oh summer wine”

  4. Leese

    “Two men singing to each other. One man deaf.”

    –and the other can’t read sign language…

  5. Nancy French

    Great story! Worth the humiliation.

  6. The Moviequill

    were they wearing those cool codpieces?…oh, that’s just in ballet eh?

  7. Brooke

    That sounds like something out of a Mel Brooks movie. Too funny!

  8. M.A.

    I shouldn’t laugh, but I am. I feel terrible.

  9. sunshine

    Oh, dear. Well, this too shall pass.

    Don’t feel too bad. My sister once had to literally run out of a performing arts center in the middle of “The Nutcracker” (snorting and gasping for air while heads turned) because her friend made a crack about one of the male ballet dancer’s tights.

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