IN PRAISE OF SILLINESS

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IN PRAISE OF SILLINESS

Karaoke: the perfect stage to let your inner goon run riot

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE SILLY? Like, really, intentionally, properly the Full Goon, not just screen-grabbed a WhatsApp conversation and accidentally sent it to the same person, or sat down where there wasn’t a chair. Incidentally, both of these things are never not funny, and you’re an idiot. The good news? We all are. Let’s stop hiding and embrace it instead. Don’t worry, I’ll go first. Hold my drink.

Last week I got a press release about the opening of Lucky Voice, a new karaoke bar and subsequent ladies’ night in Dubai’s Grand Millennium Hotel. As an ex-stage-school brat, I am not only their ideal target market, but I am also guaranteed to make everyone else feel more than comfortable about having a go themselves. Why? Because I categorically refuse to sing anything that doesn’t fit into the following categories: ‘bad’, ‘inappropriate’, or ‘musical-theatre classic’.

Let me explain. Karaoke is, and should always be, the apex of silly. Take your po-faced Mariah ballad elsewhere, if you don’t want to duet Meatloaf’s You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) with me, including the 58-second Shakespearian spoken-word intro, then we can’t be friends. Sorry. And just to clarify the life-affirming potency of such a number, a mate of mine was actually proposed to while she was mid-verse singing it. Her now-husband walked across the stage to her, on his knees, as she was impersonating a 220lb, sweaty ’70s icon of the Wagnerian rock genre. I genuinely can’t think of more romantic ways to ask someone to spend the rest of their life with you.

So yeah, anyway. Silliness. The great aphrodisiac, if the above is anything to go by. Come to think of it, I’ve never been more attracted to my boyfriend than when he admitted to me that he’d driven the entire way to Abu Dhabi, alone, trying to perfect a Michael Caine impression. What can I say? A man who can act like a complete buffoon rates far higher on my checklist than say, owning a fancy car, or the ability to cook a solid Vietnamese chicken stir-fry. Want to know what I credit a successful relationship to? Dance-offs. And regular fort building with the cushions from the sofa.

Aside from that, silliness is also the great leveller. We could all do with a reminder that, underneath the faux-spontaneous beach selfies and #humblebrags, we’re all just a bunch of nitwits who, given half the chance, take ourselves far too seriously. Remembering that and acting accordingly is not only healing and good for the soul, but will affect others by osmosis, thereby nixing all self-consciousness. I know. I’m a genius. But don’t just take my word for it. Important science people have also uncovered huge benefits to silliness, with studies finding that play bolsters the immune system, reduces blood pressure and makes people more resilient. Psychologists say that it is an important coping strategy for stress, a relationship booster, and can even help you to be more creative. Is all that enough of an incentive?

So please, do feel free to take this as my manifesto to be utterly ridiculous on the reg. With the current state of affairs – alt-right populism, Trump and Tobleronegate just a few tragedies of late – there’s something to be said for never underestimating the buoying, balm-like capabilities of putting a small hat on the dog, or responding to anyone that says “Surely…” with “Don’t call me Shirley!” There’s actually never been a more important time to be silly, and if we embrace the absurdities of life – of which there are many – it just might help us get through whatever 2017 has to throw.

In the words of the late, great Joan Rivers, “Life goes by fast. Enjoy it. Calm down. It’s all funny.”