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Richard Morris attends a new kind of comedy night, PowerPoint Karaoke

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It could be a typical scene from any comedy night, anywhere. A slightly nervous person takes to the stage as the crowd, well-lubricated with alcohol, settle down, waiting to laugh and heckle. The performer grabs the microphone, ready to make the most of his brief slot. There’s a palpable air of expectation as both performer and audience wait for a screen at the back of the stage to load up a PowerPoint presentation.

If the ending of that last sentence foxed you, you’ve obviously never enjoyed a night of PowerPoint Karaoke. The premise is that plucky volunteers get up and ‘present’ slides which they have never seen on a subject they very possibly know absolutely nothing about. Subjects, although often concerning technology or business, can range from Thai fish to rural farming. The audience is free to laugh, heckle and ask questions - although anyone doing so should be aware they may be nominating themselves for the next presentation.

Since emerging from Germany a few years ago, PowerPoint Karaoke has become an international phenomenon, with events held in the US and the UK. And now it has reached Leeds.
Dominic Hodgson, who organises the PowerPoint Karaoke night at Mr Foley’s on The Headrow, explains its appeal. “The point of the evening is that you never know what to expect - you can give the same presentation to different people and each one will have a different style or knowledge on the subject, or lack of. It’s made pretty clear that the audience will be supportive no matter what the presentation style and if I hear anything negative‚Ķ well they’ve just volunteered themselves for one of my more ‘challenging’ PowerPoints.”

It might all sound a little esoteric - an in-joke for office drones desperate to blow off some steam - but, in the best tradition of open mike nights, anyone can get up and have a go. “At the latest Leeds evening, we didn’t get that many geeks; it was mostly co-workers of a few geeks who had no idea what they were letting themselves in for,” says Dominic, a self-confessed geek. “As the evening went on and people got more relaxed - and drunk a little more, of course - people got into the idea a bit more and we had some really funny presenters.”

For details on the next PowerPoint Karaoke night, check www.wheresthegeeks.co.uk, a site created by Dominic listing events nationwide for out and proud geeks and the geek curious.
Mr Foley’s Ale House, The Headrow, LS1 4ED, 0113 242 9674

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

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