BEST KARAOKE (2001)
Some might argue that there's something depressing about karaoke: It inevitably leads to tears of some sort, whether they be tears of laughter or of pain. But karaoke at the Poodle, under the wing of host Cary Carlson, goes a long way toward dispelling such notions. It's been ten years since the velvet-voiced Carlson, who may remind some slightly tipsy patrons of Kenny Rogers, plunked down his first wad of cash on a karaoke machine, and since then he's acquired a staggering catalog of more than 10,000 songs. Though it's hard to envision someone having the guts and the pipes to tackle "The Real Me," by the Who, some may be thrilled to discover 23 Merle Haggard tunes on the list. Whatever song you choose, Carlson's sincere charm lends an air of decency and legitimacy to the proceedings. On his list of do's and dont's: Don't swing the microphones by their cords; do follow the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have others do unto you). The Poodle provides a full menu and cheap drinks to help you garner the gumption to take a turn at the mic, and a host of video games and pool tables to retreat to afterward. And since Carlson hosts on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the drunken poseurs and irony thrill-seekers that other karaoke bars attract on weekends are mostly absent here.