Sunday, February 15, 1987
The Miami Herald
BANG THE TUPPERWARE SLOWLY
DAVE BARRY Herald Columnist
When I die, I want my obituary to read as follows:
"Dave Barry is dead. Mr. Barry and his band, the Urban Professionals, once performed The Tupperware Song before 1,000 Tupperware distributors."
This is the truth. We really did perform before 1,000 Tupperware distributors, and they gave us a standing ovation, although in the interest of accuracy, I should tell you that just before we performed, they also gave a standing ovation to a set of ovenware. But I don't care. This was without question the highlight of my entire life. Probably you want to hear all about it, starting at the very beginning.
As you regular readers may recall, The Tupperware Song is a blues song I wrote about 11 years ago to perform at a major Tupperware party that went on for several days and produced minor head injuries, but also resulted in the sale of vast quantities of Tupperware. Although the song was a large hit, after the party it pretty much languished. So last year, I wrote to Tupperware headquarters, located in Orlando, Fla., right next to Gatorland, an attraction where (this is true) alligators jump into the air and eat dead chickens hung from wires, and I told them (the Tupperware people) about my song, and they invited me to perform it at a meeting of Tupperware distributors from all over the country. Of course I said yes. A break like this comes along once in your career.
So I formed a band, the
Urban Professionals. I chose the members very carefully, based on their ability
to correctly answer the following question: "Do you want to go to Orlando
at your own expense and perform before Tupperware distributors?" (The correct
answer was: "Yes.") Using this strict screening
procedure, I obtained three other band members, all highly trained journalists. I'm the lead guitar player and singer and also (I'm not bragging here; these are simply facts) the only person in the band who knows when the song has started or ended. The other members of the band just sort of stand around looking nervous until I've been going for a while, and then, after it penetrates their primitive musical consciousnesses that the song has begun, they become startled and lurch into action. Likewise it takes them up to 30 seconds to come to a complete stop after the song is technically over.
The only other normal instrument in the band is a harmonica, played by Gene. Gene has been attempting to play the harmonica for a number of years, and has developed a repertoire of several songs, all of which sound exactly like Oh Susanna! "Here's another one!" he'll say, and then he plays, Oh Susanna! He plays it very rapidly, totally without pauses, as if he's anxious to get back to journalism, so if you tried to sing along, you'd have to go: "Icomefromalabamawithmy
and pretty soon you'd run out of oxygen and keel over onto your face, which
Gene wouldn't notice
because he'd be too busy trying to finish the song on schedule.
The other two instruments in the band are actually Tupperware products, played rhythmically by Tom and Lou, who also dance. How good are they? Let me put it this way: If you can watch them perform and not wet your pants, then you are legally blind. For one thing, they both are afflicted with severe rhythm impairment, the worst cases I have ever seen, worse even than Republican convention delegates. You ask Lou and Tom to clap along to a song, and not only will they never once hit the beat, but they will also never, no matter how eternally long the song goes on, both clap at the same time. On top of which you have the fact that they do not have your classic dancer's build, especially Lou, who is, and I say this with all due respect, the same overall shape as a Krispy Kreme jelly doughnut.
When we got to the Tupperware convention center, we became a tad nervous, because (a) it turns out that Tupperware is a large business venture that many people take very seriously and (b) we had never ever practiced as a total band. The bulk of our musical preparation to that point had consisted of deciding that our band outfits should include sunglasses.
Fortunately, the Tupperware distributors turned out to be extremely peppy people, prone to applauding wildly at the slightest provocation. They especially loved Lou and Tom, lunging around waving their Tupperware products in what they presumably thought was unison, looking like The Temptations might look if they were suddenly struck, onstage, with severe disorders of the central nervous system.
After we got off the stage,
Lou announced that it was the most exciting thing he had ever done. Gene kept
saying: "A professional musician. I'm a professional musician." A
Tupperware person came up and asked if we'd be willing to perform again, and
of course we said yes, although I am becoming concerned. Tom has announced,
several times, that he thinks next time the dancers should get a singing part.
I can see already that unless we hold our egos in check, keep this thing in
perspective, we could start having the kind of internal conflicts that broke
up the Beatles, another very good band.
The Tupperware Song (mp3)
The Tupperware Song (real audio)
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