An Obituary for Karaoke

By Greg Schwem | December 20th, 2023

For whenever it’s ready to die

karaoke microphone, image by Ilkin Guliyev, for article on an obituary to karaoke

Anxious for the “I don’t know how to sing but I’ll pretend I do” trend to finally fade, humorist Greg Schwem presents an obituary for karaoke in this week’s Humor Hotel.

That felt good to write. Newspaper obituary writers, we know you occasionally craft “advancers” — death notices for celebrities still very much alive — so the world can read about their lives mere minutes after they expire. Do you ever wish the actual event had occurred? I’m sure it happens. What if the subject is an evil dictator? The sicko who invented the colonoscopy prep drink? Certain U.S. politicians?

That’s how I feel about karaoke.

Roberto del Rosario, who received a patent for the karaoke machine, died in 2003. But I want the entire institution wiped off Earth’s face. That means eliminating every machine that stores the songs, every LED screen that displays the lyrics, and every bar, restaurant or public building that has ever advertised KARAOKE NIGHT!

I really thought karaoke would have a brief shelf life, sort of like ax throwing or Jessica Simpson. Instead, the opposite seems to be occurring. While sailing aboard a cruise ship recently, karaoke threatened to knock Bingo off its perch as the most popular activity. It was omnipresent, even taking place on days the ship stopped in exotic Mexican ports and passengers should have been spending their time purchasing sombreros and visiting pharmacies to stock up on Viagra and Prozac. I thought about buying the latter, simply as a means of dealing with a ship full of aspiring (in their opinions, anyway) Katy Perrys and Michael Bubles.

We have to grow weary of karaoke eventually, right? And when we do, the epitaph, courtesy of me, is ready to go:

Karaoke, the entertainment phenomenon that launched absolutely nobody into musical stardom, died today after an unexpectedly long life. No cause of death was given, but it had been in failing health after professional singers and songwriters threatened to stop making music altogether.

Reached aboard his tour bus, Garth Brooks greeted the news with a giddy, “Yee haw! I realize ‘Friends in Low Places’ is about a drunk guy showing up at his ex’s wedding, but that doesn’t mean you have to be drunk when you sing it,” the country superstar said. “I mean, you have to be somewhat sober to sing, ‘the last one to know, the last one to show, I was the last one you thought you’d see there.’ It doesn’t work after your buddies buy you three tequila shots and dare you to take the stage.”

Adele responded with her trademark English bawdiness.

“You know why I’m standing on this stage and you (expletive) people paid $1,500 a (expletive) ticket to see me?” she asked a sold-out Caesar’s Palace crowd. “Because I know how to hit, and hold, the (expletive) high notes on ‘Someone Like You’ and you don’t. Don’t ever (expletive) forget that!”

John Travolta issued a written statement: “I only wish Olivia Newton-John were alive to realize sorority girls and bachelorette parties will never again have the opportunity to butcher not only the lyrics and the tune of ‘Summer Nights,’ but also the choreography. This is a proud day for everybody affiliated with ‘Grease.’”

Taylor Swift appeared upset by the news but told a football stadium full of fans that she was actually shedding tears of joy.

“For all you teenage girls out there who have ever arrived at a karaoke party two hours before it started, nervously wrote your names on the sign-up sheet, and then waited another 90 minutes before belting ‘Style’ from the depths of your diaphragms, you can stop now.”

“Here’s how it’s SUPPOSED to sound,” she added.

Services for karaoke are pending; organizers are trying to find a day when the world is not engaged in another unexplained phenomenon that shows no signs of abating.

For one day, could the world put down its pickleball paddles?

Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad and the recently released The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian, available at Visit Greg on the web at

© 2023 Greg Schwem. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Like laughing? Check out more Schwem, Boomer articles on laughter or the baby boomer humor of Randy Fitzgerald.

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