Have you heard of PowerPoint Karaoke?

What is PowerPoint Karaoke? Unlike regular karaoke where people attempt to sing songs that are probably familiar to them, at PowerPoint Karaoke–otherwise known as Battledecks–a person has to present a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation that he or she has never seen before, ideally with hilarious results. According to Wikipedia, PowerPoint Karaoke originated in Berlin in 2006. Here is video from a Battledecks competition at South by Southwest (SXSW)  in 2008:

When my friends Brad Stephenson and Gayle Pazerski posted an invitation to a PowerPoint Karaoke night they are hosting next month I was both intrigued and saddened. I was intrigued because I have suffered through many PowerPoint presentations that embody the Edward Tufte maxim “PowerPoint is evil,” so the idea of using PowerPoint as a means of entertainment seems appealingly cathartic. I was saddened because Brad and Gayle live in Pittsburgh and are selfishly hosting PowerPoint Karaoke in their home city instead of mine.

Even though I won’t be able to attend I wanted to learn more, so I asked  Brad and Gayle a few questions about their PowerPoint Karaoke plans. (Brad provided the answers, so don’t blame Gayle if you don’t like what you read.)

Brad, Gayle and Bigfoot at Fallingwater
Brad and Gayle are so cool that Bigfoot shows up in the background of their selfies.

What made you want to run a PowerPoint Karaoke event?

I heard about PowerPoint karaoke being a conference event several years ago. Didn’t witness it or participate, but the mere idea always intrigued me, and I thought that having participants who are used to thinking on their feet — like improv artists — would make it extra super awesome.

So, you haven’t ever participated?

I’ve never, ever done it. This is a first for, I think, everyone involved.

Where will the slide decks come from?

Gayle and I will be creating the PowerPoint decks. We discussed the idea of grabbing actual decks, but I think it will be more fun to throw some incredible curve balls at the performers. We will likely throw in some real slides that we pull from actual presentations though. If we do, they will be the worst of the worst.

Really awful Powerpoint slide
Brad found this stellar example of PowerPoint slide “design” on the Internet.

Who controls when the slides change?

The slides progress automatically every 15 seconds.

Will there be beer?

Arcade Comedy Theater is BYOB. So … absolutely.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Okay, so who is going to make this happen in Chicago and invite me? Seriously, someone, please do this.

As for the lucky people of Pittsburgh, are you brave enough to present a random PowerPoint presentation in front of a live audience? Do you want to watch others stumble through such a presentation? If so, join Brad and Gayle for the Electric Slidez PowerPoint Karaoke Throwdown on Saturday, June 8 at 10 p.m. at the Arcade Comedy Theatre at 811 Liberty Avenue. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students.

Electric Slides Powerpoint Karaoke Throwdown

Brad added that “Arcade Comedy Theater in Pittsburgh is really making amazing things like this possible. They have created a space for any kind of event that makes people laugh, and I think that’s extremely valuable.”

See, potential Chicago PowerPoint Karaoke venues? See how much the people will love you? Do this. Do this now.

Brad and Gayle are both contributors to the comedy site ActClassy.com. Click there to witness their tremendous silliness. They also day jobs…at least until their PowerPoint Karaoke DJ careers really take off.

Finally, if you appreciate poking fun at PowerPoint presentations and you don’t already know the brilliant PowerPoint Gettysburg Address created by Peter Norvig, now head of research at Google, you really need to see it here.


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