Ben Folds, His Piano, And ChatRoulette

I am flat-out delighted. Delighted! But before I share, if you click play on that video or any links in this post, there may be some bad words. Profanity. So if you'd prefer not to hear any blue language, don't click on anything, ok? The story's still pretty good.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about this thing called ChatRoulette* — basically, a service that connects people logged on with webcams to one another, who then talk to each other, or not. It's taken off, and my beloved Ben Folds, piano and songwriting genius, logged on during a show in Charlotte and played songs about the various folks with whom he connected, in front of a live audience of 2,000. It is hilarious, a little awkward, and at times, absolutely heartwarming. If you fear the curse words and don't want to click, here's a little vignette from the video, which has Folds seated at his piano, playing beautiful improvised songs, with lyrics inspired by what he sees.

One of the users who pops up on Folds's screen is holding up a notebook, the only thing visible in the frame. On the page is a message, written sideways. Folds sings, "There's a note on a white piece of paper. What does it say? Is there really a person in there? Show your face if there is, show your face, if there is!" The page recedes for a moment, and a slice of face is seen, then quickly blocked again by the page. Cheers from the audience! Folds stands and cranes his neck, singing "Alright, I can't read sideways, I gotta play minor chords, gonna read sideways, 'If you turn your head I win...' Awww! You win!"

Folds goes on to implore the mystery winner to reveal his name. "Bobby" is scrawled on the page, and the crowd goes wild. "Bobby, oh Bobby, Bobby likes to play him some games he can win. I hope you win more!" It finishes up with a Bobby! Bobby! call-and-response between Folds and the enthusiastic crowd, and in the end, "Bobby," with a huge smile, reveals his face. "You win!"

I swear, my heart swelled three sizes. A billion zillion thanks to Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing for posting the edited video — I laughed out loud, multiple times at my desk, never a bad thing for a rainy Monday at work. For more on Merton, the mysterious Chat Roulette piano player whom Folds is emulating (or is...? I, for one, don't think so.), check out his YouTube page, PianoChatImprov.

*Ok, that link's safe — no cussin'.

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