We could’ve been in the final.
All we had to do was sing the famous first words of Total Eclipse of the Heart into a microphone and we would’ve been in the final. But we got too excited. We counted our metaphorical chickens before they had metaphorically hatched. We got too excited that we knew the words to the song, and forgot to actually sing the words to the song.
“Get off the stage,” said presenters Tim and Gendle, as Bonnie Tyler jumped in to sing her part perfectly on time, what with her being a recording and all.
The stage was exited. A chance to become a legend and reach the final of Famous First Words, destroyed.
Famous First Words is exactly that - the opportunity to become a legend for about 15 seconds, or slightly longer if the audience like the song. It's described as the boozed-up lovechild of Don’t Forget the Lyrics and X-Factor. And it's not karaoke.
Basically, Tim and Gendle stand on the stage and play the introduction to a song. The first one in the audience to shout out that they know the song then raises their hand and gets to go up on stage. Tim and Gendle then restart the song, and then the person who raised their hand gets the chance to try and sing the famous first words.
Basically, Famous First Words is just a really good night out. It’s on at 11pm and Tim even quips at the start of the show “you’re free to leave and go to the bar and come back at any point”. It’s definitely acceptable to turn up intoxicated. It’s probably expected to turn up intoxicated. We definitely have a hell of a hangover right now.
The show started up in London and has become quite the cult hit. The Edinburgh crowd wasn’t quite as numerous as the turn out down South, and as a result, it maybe took the show a little longer to get going as people came to terms with exactly what it was.
But once it did get going, the atmosphere was great. It’s rowdy, it’s feel-good fun, and it’s impossible not to get dragged into the narrative of the show; the controversial song restarts for certain audience members but not others, the drama of the judging, the searing tension in the room when a song comes on that everyone knows but no one can quite pin down. It's great, and you will recognise every song that plays, even if you don’t know the first words right away.
At the start of the night people were possibly a little timid as they came to terms with exactly what was happening. By the end of the night, having watched person after person come on to the stage cockily, and either smash it and live out their wildest dreams, or slowly crumble and die, normally going down with a flurry of protests, the room was awash with aws, ahs, booing, cheering and more overreactions than a drunken pantomime.
We had nailed Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and Jimi Jamison’s ‘I’m Always Here’ when the final song of the night came on and gave us the last opportunity to get that third point and reach the final.
Our hand was up first. We knew the words. The stage was set. But the pressure was just too great.
We failed to achieve legend status that night at Famous First Words. But maybe, just maybe, we'll get the chance again, some time in the near future. Don't miss it while it's here for the week.
Guilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), 11pm, Aug 5-13