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The KJ is a DM?

Okay, so, I think maybe there's more to this than a couple "huh, isn't this cool?!" mentions in a blog. In the pictures above, you have Kevin Karaoke, otherwise known as Kevin Cable, the KJ at Durty Nelly's, the karaoke bar I most often frequent at this point. The first time I attended, he immediately piqued my interest. Wearing a leopard print suit coat, looking all Weird Al with his long curly hair, and just being generally super, super congenial. Who was this weirdo and what's his deal? And then he hosted the show. And he was the consummate KJ— in that before I encountered him I'd never had a prime example, never had a symbol for the ultimate KJ. And here he is. He's the perfect announcer. His customer rapport is impeccable. He plays games with the crowd and, more importantly, for himself. And he props up performances! He manages the crowd, manages the space, provides added value (playing his guitar with you?!) and runs a smoooooth fucking show. He's the DM. He preps the game, facilitates its play, and manages the behaviors of all his drunken interactors.

As Gygax himself put it, the DM is "not a 'Storyteller' but a narrator and co-player." Every karaoke performance has its own story to tell and the KJ is there but to facilitate its telling:

The players are not acting out roles designed for them by the [DM], they are acting in character to create the story, and that tale is told as the game unfolds, and as directed by their actions, with random factors that even the [DM] can’t predict possibly altering the course of things.

The player brings to the stage his or her own interpretation of a prior performance informed by who they are and how they wish to be represented. It's an intimate act of creation and self-definition that any good DM would seek to prop up as much as their capabilities allow:

As false to the game form as the pre-scripted “story,” is play that has little more in it than [action without purpose, a] vacuous effort where the participants [perform] in a spiral that leads nowhere save eventual boredom.

So, instead, we play within context. We play to the music. We play to the performance we see in our minds. And sometimes we even play in concert with the audience, with our co-performers, and even, or maybe especially, during a really good game, with our guitar-wielding, larger than life KJ-DM.


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