In January 2014, for one night only, I performed a one-man show telling the story of my experiences in voice-acting. In it, I showcased the "People in my Cranium," the collection of characters that I have living in my head.

I personally refer to them as "the Peanut Gallery." 

You know how some people will say "Oh, I'm just talking to myself"?

Well, when I do that, I'm actually holding a roundtable conference with five main personalities, each of whom have their own unique take on what they see going on in my world.

You might be asking, Abner, are you right in the head?

To which I respond, I'm perfectly sane.

How, you might then ask, does the Peanut Gallery figure into my journey as an anison cover singer?

I believe they're the ones who finally put me on this path.

I say "finally" because I think this has been a long time coming.

Let me explain with a story and I'll start like this....

*   *   *

I never planned on being a singer.

Contrary to what some might be thinking, singing, especially becoming an anison cover singer, was never something I had planned from the beginning. 

It was never that dream.

According to 11-year-old Abner, I was going to be a best-selling sci-fi author. 


Just like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, I was going to be up there on those shelves with five, ten, fifteen, twenty-some-odd books. Some would be stand-alones. The rest, part of a series of one sort or another. I'd have one or two hitting the New York Times Best Seller lists every so often. 

But mostly, I'd make a comfortable living writing science fiction.

Through high school and college and afterwards I wrote three novels (unpublished) and a dozen short stories (four published). I took a brief detour into screenwriting and wrote three screenplays and six TV episodic scripts (all unproduced), then another detour into comic books, before jumping back into fiction and wrote what amounted to three more novels, two of which I self-published and sent off into the wilds of the Amazon digital marketplace.

Then Life took me in an unexpected direction and the door closed on writing.

And that's when the Peanut Gallery began talking to me again.

And I started to listen.

They'd spoken to me before, of course. Starting way back in high school. I personally think they're an internal manifestation of my high school friends who always cheered me on. 

It's the Peanut Gallery who, from the beginning, through little hints and nudges, steered me toward performing.

Let me back up a bit.

You see, before I planned on being a best-selling writer, I performed. 

At first, it was at family parties. Usually Christmas. We'd have a huge gathering at our house. Family, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbors. They'd pack our house, there'd be tons of food, and, as the evening progressed, there'd be a performance.

My sister and I would each play the piano. Then we'd crank up the karaoke machine and my mom and dad would take a turn. Then my sister. Then me. And afterwards, I'd recite "A Visit From St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore.

So even by the time I was telling myself I'd become a writer, the Peanut Gallery already knew about the performing, especially the singing.

Even more, they knew I enjoyed it. They knew I got a thrill everytime I got up in front of people, entertained them, and made them smile.

It was always one hell of a buzz.

So the Peanut Gallery would always steer me in that direction.

In 8th grade, they steered me toward performing in our school talent show. I played the piano, to the delight of my teachers and classmates.

In freshman year of high school, they steered toward auditioning for My Fair Lady. But I chickened out at the last minute.

As "revenge" for that, they made me invite my friends from high school to my birthday parties at home and inevitably, my mom would ask me to get up and sing. And because Back to the Future was one of her favorite movies, I'd sing my rendition of those two classics from the movie: "Earth Angel" and "Johnny B. Goode."

To the joy of my friends.

And it was this joy that led to a joint effort between friends and the Gallery in my senior year of high school.

Toward the end of October 1989, the Music Department announced vocalist auditions for that year's annual fundraiser, the Winter Dinner Dance. The minute they heard the announcement, my friends immediately rounded on me. "Dude! You sing. You should try out."

"You think?" I said.

"Just go for it!"

The Peanut Gallery echoed their sentiment.

So I auditioned.

Of the dozen who did, three were selected.

I was one of them.

During the first rehearsal with the band director, the two other vocalists, and the band director's wife (who served as our vocal coach), after going through each of the songs we'd be singing, the band director turned to me and said, "You know, you've got a nice voice. We're going to be auditioning for the Spring musical. I want you to try out."

The other two vocalists concurred. So did the director's wife.

The Peanut Gallery also concurred. 

When the audition announcement came up, this time the Gallery made sure I went by having me run into one of my fellow vocalists from the Dinner Dance who saw me, waved me over, and said, "You're headed to auditions, right? Come on, we'll head over together."

The musical was Guys and Dolls. I got the part of "Arvide Abernathy" and got a solo in the second act.

In my first year at college, I saw that auditions were being held for Fiddler on the Roof and, recalling Guys and Dolls my senior year (and at the nudging of the Gallery), I auditioned.

This time, no go.

At first.

But two days later, I got a phone call from the director. "The person who originally got the role turned it down," he said, "and you were next in line. Would you like the part?"

I played "Yussel, the Hatmaker" and, while I didn't get a solo song, I did get a few lines.

Toward the end of the run of the play, our music director, who was also the choral director, welcomed cast members who were interested to come try out for any of the four choral groups.

Of course the Peanut Gallery jumped at the chance and, after the play had finished, they steered me toward the auditions. 

Two days later, I found myself standing in the rehearsal room that would be my "home" for the next five years. First, as a member of the University Singers. Then, concurrently with the Men's Chorus. And then, for a short time, with the chamber singers, the Polyphonics.

Just before I left college, another musical came along and, of course, the Gallery was more than happy to send me in. This time, I didn't have to wait two days and once callbacks were posted, I joined the cast of Into The Woods.

After college, the Gallery searched around for more performing things for me to do.

Now mind you, these were "side projects." All this time I was still focused on writing and the dream of being a bestselling sci-fi writer. 

Even the "side project" of voice acting, although when the opportunity to sing in a voice acting workshop came up, the Peanut Gallery flew into action. The class, led by a voice director for Disney, had a section on "singing in character." So I did. To the delight of the workshop teacher and my fellow students.

Then came the one-man show and once again, I "sang in character," to the delight of the audience.

After that, the Gallery continued its search for things to steer me towards.

Following a month or so of enjoying a live band (specializing in jazz standards) and some dancing at a local bar, I asked the band leader if I might sing a song as a special treat for someone. He was hesitant at first and asked for a sample. I gave him a short snippet of the song. The surprised look on his face said it all.

A few moments later, I sang "The Nearness of You."

I'd get invited up to sing again a few more times.

After the door closed on writing, the Peanut Gallery steered me toward stand-up comedy, drawing on my voice-acting and years as a nerd to come up with a nerd-centric routine that was part monologue, part one-man radio drama (very much reminiscent of my one-man show), and culminating in a final set that included (to my utter delight) four song parodies.

That set was supposed to be performed at Emerald City Comic Con in 2020 but, as we all know, the world changed that year, and the Con was cancelled.

In the following months, the routine eventually dropped to the wayside while the song parodies went in and out of mind.

Then in 2021, the Peanut Gallery took a different approach. 

It began with my livestream chat show ANIME SHIYOU!! in May, followed a month later by a mini-concert during the 'stream to celebrate my birthday. 

Then came the birthday song in honor of seiyuu Aiba Aina sung during 'stream that October.

This was followed in December by two BanG Dream-themed parody songs: "One Song More," a parody of "One Day More" from Les Miz, and "Ako & Mashiro in 'Little Dark Book'," a parody of Garupa Pico Fever episode 10 and Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana.

Then 2021 turned into 2022, and soon it was April.

Time for Sakura-Con and...well, you already know what happened there.

*   *   *

So, no, I never planned on being a singer 

But I guess I was supposed to be one all along.

Thanks to the Peanut Gallery.


Post Karaoke Open Mic Thoughts

Sakura-Con took place this past weekend and I chose to use their karaoke open mic as an actual open mic, in which I would try out material in front of an audience. 

Specifically, my set list from The Anisons of My Youth.

Minus the MC parts.

Mainly, I wanted to be in "full performance regalia" onstage to see how things would come across. A tech preview, if you will. 

Now I didn't get to do all the songs from my show, but I did enough songs to get a feel for audience engagement.

Here's what I found.

The "classic" songs went over well. 

I started with "Getter Robo" and that seemed to perk up the crowd, small as they were at that time of the morning.

After "Uchuu Senkan Yamato," an audience member yelled out "Encore!"

To which I replied: "I'll be back for one."

Next came "Runner" and I got some "arm swaying" from the crowd.

Then came the "power ballad"--"Ai Oboete Imasu ka." Adding the dialogue from the movie during the long mid-song instrumental went over like gangbusters. When I came off stage, one of the moderators (actually the audience member who called for the encore earlier) said: "That was epic."

A Macross Fan ran up to me as I started back to my seat, shook my hand, and thanked me profusely for singing that song.

"Fly Me To The Moon," the swinging Sinatra version, came next and I vaguely heard some "ooooh"-ing from the crowd.  "The NERV Orchestra!" at the instrumental break got a cheer. The applause at the end of this was punctuated by a couple of cheers.

Next, "Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan," with choice bits of choreo taken from the live shows. Got the audience to join in with some hand-claps. And the monologue at mid-song got some enthusiastic response.

When I came off stage, Encore Moderator said, "Epic, again."

I responded, "And there's the encore you asked for."

"I got two of them," she replied and gave me a thumbs up.

And now, a story...

*   *   *

A few people after I sang, Encore Moderator got up on stage and sang "Country Roads" from Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart. During the instrumental, she talked about her love for Ghibli films.

An idea came to mind but I noticed the morning session of open mic was closing soon and I had to duck out. So while another person took to the stage, I went up to Encore Moderator.

I said to her: "Will you be back here at 5pm from the afternoon sesssion? I have to duck out early now but I'd like to sing to you a song from a Ghibli movie."

She gave a small start in surprise, then said, "Yes, I'll be back here."

I then approached the other open mic moderator and asked how to get near the top of the queue at the afternoon session because I was singing a song for his co-moderator. 

"Put your name in the queue," he said, "and I'll flag it for the afternoon."

I did and handed over the mp3 of the backing track.

Just before 5pm, I got back to the room, grabbed a seat, and got ready. The Open Mic Coordinator recognized me from earlier, waved, and came up to me. "Hi Abner," she said. "We've got you going up second."

I said, "Is Encore Moderator here? I'm going to be singing to her."

Open Mic Coordinator said, "Oh. She went to get a snack."

"Can you put me on when she gets back?"


She went back to prep and I sat back to do some prep myself.

A few minutes later, someone walked up to me and said, "I'm here!"

I looked up. 

Encore Moderator.

"Sweet!" I said. "I'll have them put me on the queue."

She took a seat up front and I went to talk to Open Mic Coordintor.

The session started.

After two singers, they called my name.

I went up on stage, gave a short lead-in to the song.

Then I turned to Encore Moderator and sang "Ue o Muite."

I think she enjoyed it.

Story ends.

*   *   *

As I started "Ue o Muite," a quartet of Japanese girls sitting at the front row gave a squee of recognition and began to clap along in time to the music.


This is exactly the kind of thing I'd hoped to see. 

Now that the room crowd was much larger than the earlier session. the applause and cheer after the song was more pronounced.

And, as expected, the second session had a longer rotation interval. I managed two more songs.

"Enter Enter MISSION" earned hand-claps and chants during the song. This was the only deviation from my original plan of working my show; a friend who is a Girls und Panzer fan was in the audience and I'd promised I'd sing this one.

He got a big kick out of it.

I think the audience did, too.

Panzer Vor!

My last song was "DREAM SOLISTER" and this time, the audience really got into it. A cheer from the crowd when I said: "This one is about the little concert band that could." From the outset came the hand claps in time to the song. I led them in chants at the instrumental, then arm waves during the last verse. 

Honestly, I was trying to channel TRUE's 2016 Anime Japan performance of this song*

At the very least, I think I got the energy level nice and high.

Substantial cheer and applause afterwards.

Three people came up to me after and said they enjoyed it.

*   *   *

Eight songs. 

Technically, seven.

Roughly half the set for the show.

Overall, I think it went well. I'm pleased.

Audience engagement seemed positive, especially with the larger crowd. Hard to tell if it was positive because it was open mic and they're being encouraging or because they're enjoying the performance.

I'm leaning toward a little of both but hoping it's more because I entertained them.

I know for a fact, Encore Moderator and Macross Fan were entertained. Some friends who were in the audience (one of them Girls und Panzer Fan) were also entertained.

For the live, I know I want to check audio. I think there were some inconsistent audio levels and balance, easily fixed during set up. 

Also, turning up the audio on the monitor speaker. 

Staging: I moved within a roughly five foot area when I know I can spread out a little more to increase audience engagement and enhance "visual" variety. 

*   *   *


This can work.

I will bring this to stage. 

And I hope you guys will be able to come watch it.

*TRUE and "DREAM SOLISTER" at Anime Japan 2016.