A few weeks ago I joined a karaoke fan group on Facebook. After having a chat with the site admin, I was advised to check out a few shows run by particular KJs, among whom was DJ Chocolate Bunny. Being that Easter was on its way, I thought a visit with a chocolate bunny was due.
DJ Chocolate Bunny, otherwise known as Shed Washington, runs a CD based karaoke show. His is by far the most analog show I've seen (aside from, of course, live band karaoke). A notable difference in his setup: Instead of listing the song and the artist, you're asked to list the song and the "location" as shown in his song book. This location is an indexed location for where to find the CD that holds the song in question. DJ Chocolate Bunny then tracks his singers by stacking their sign up sheets in the order in which they've signed up.
Another interesting difference for his show is that he practices a lot of preventative maintenance. I can only assume that through the many years of hosting karaoke, DJ Chocolate Bunny has encountered various user-centered problems along the way and uses a lot of signs to provide brief instructions for appropriate interaction. For instance, one of his signs instructs you to leave the book on the table. Another instructs you to return the pens to where they came from. All of these are designed to prevent future problems that he has either experienced in the past, or anticipates might happen based on how people tend to behave. He is also not shy about admonishing bad behavior, and being clear and direct about his boundaries toward interacting with his show. If you cross into his performance area, he will let you know. If you don't sing into the mic effectively, he will let you know. He is definitely not shy.
In this way, he was quite different from most of the KJs I have met so far. Most of them try to play as amicably as possible, stepping back when in situations where toe stepping might occur. DJ Chocolate Bunny steps when he feels stepping is warranted. If pushed to describe his style, I think he would be more on the diva scale than the service scale of karaoke hosting. Which brings up an interesting consideration for karaoke research: KJ hosting types.
Almost all of the KJs, to some degree or another, so far, have been performers of some sort. Aside from the female KJ I met at Forest Lanes, they all seemed to naturally take to the mic, having no problems speaking in front of a crowd and, often, singing, and singing well, in front of a crowd. Most of them seem to treat their hosting responsibilities as some sort of customer service but also as if they were radio announcers. They are there to facilitate your interaction, but how they do it varies. DJ Chocolate Bunny, on the other hand, is there to facilitate his show. There are pros and cons to this, of course. On the one hand, as a customer, some of his interactions can be off-putting. On the other hand, his show is highly entertaining. Like Kevin Cable, DJ Chocolate Bunny hosts more like an entertainer. He provides added value to the show, dancing during your song, wearing and using props to add some humor and broader entertainment value to your performance. So his show is very entertaining, even if some of the particulars of engaging with it can be intimidating.
So preliminarily, I have a few KJ categories:
For instance, I would categorize Jonah Snyder, at Pineapple Hill, as a Concierge Announcer. He interacts with players professionally and hosts with an announcer style, acting more like a radio announcer, luring people in with a smooth voice and well-placed words. Though he does perform through singing for the crowd at the top of every rotation, it's not his focus; instead, he seeks to run a smooth show, working in tandem with the bar to provide a service. Kevin Cable, on the other hand, would be a Concierge Performer. His focus is on top-notch customer service as a host and on providing added value to his show through performance. He adapts his show to his crowd and plays as much for his own fun as for his players' engagement, but he always makes sure to provide a customer-focused show. DJ Chocolate Bunny, on the other hand, would be a Diva Performer. He hosts his show according to his preference, driving toward how he believes things should be rather than satisfying the whims of his audience, but he also hosts as a performer, adding value to his shows through play as much for the player as for the crowd.
I definitely find myself drawn to the Performer style of hosting and appreciate a good Customer Liaison, so I need to keep myself aware of that bias. There's definitely no one right way to host a show. Thanks for being different, DJ Chocolate Bunny.