The Magic of Michael Hartney’s Grandiose Choir Teacher
2016 was a very, very bad year no matter how you slice it. In tough times, comedy is often a form of escape that people turn to when they need comforting. With that in mind, we asked our contributors to pick the one piece of comedy in any form that they turn to when they really need cheering up. We’ll be sharing their choices throughout the week in a package we’re calling “The Best Medicine.”
Staged acts rarely translate when filmed and put online. The audio levels are usually off, the camera angles limited, and the magic of seeing it live, in-person, just isn’t there. Recently a friend showed me a bootlegged version of Hamilton, but I couldn’t watch — it felt like I was viewing the Sistine Chapel through a keyhole. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and Legs for Days’ 2014 sketch “Girl in Choir” is a unicorn.
Legs for Days was one of UCB’s best and longest-running Maude Night teams, featuring powerhouse writers & performers like Above Average’s Dan Chamberlain and Red Oaks’ Ann Carr, amongst others. This wonderful sketch, co-written by Katie Simon, features the incredibly talented Michael Hartney as an overzealous choir teacher announcing which students made the cut. The sketch is more than a standard song parody — its rewatchability lies entirely in Hartney’s choir teacher’s grandiose, spotlight-stealing, entirely unnecessary performance. I witnessed this sketch live and still watch it every few weeks. The video comes as close as can be to capturing the pure joy the actors and audience are experiencing as this sketch progresses. After seeing Hartney put Alicia Keys to shame, it’s no surprise he recently finished up a lengthy stint in School of Rock on Broadway. “Girl in Choir” is sure to drown out any politics talk over the holidays as it inevitably replays in your head over the next 24-48 hours.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.