Whiffenpoofs invent a cappella, sing for network TV, are repaid with PERSECUTION

Every year, 14 dudes dress up in butler suits and sing for the fine men and women of Yale. Sometimes they even deign to croon for the lowly plebian masses. They call themselves the Whiffenpoofs. And, for some reason, they seem shocked when people make fun of them.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Whiffenpoofs appeared on the nationally televised Sing-Off competition on NBC. They appeared in their coat-tailed tuxes. They wore white gloves. They sang Michael Bublé. Along the way they got teased, then eliminated. (Maybe it had something to do with singing Michael Bublé?)

What they took away from the experience was that people just wanted to fixate on the Ivy League thing.

The Whiffenpoofs were invited on the show without auditioning. I think they felt confident about our ability to be on the show because the quality of Whiff groups tends to be at least decent, and because even if we were bad, we would have still had the image they were going for. As you can image, the “feel” of an Ivy League group in coattails was a lot of what they were going for, and I think that came across really strongly in the first episode’s intro.

(UPDATE: Quote per Whiffenpoofs business manager Daniel Turcza)

Sure, sure. Of course the media is going to make a big stink out of anything involving Ivy League affiliations. (Just ask Columbia.) But the Whiffenpoofs basically poured gasoline all over that fire – and in a way so as to make themselves as unlikeable as possible – during their introductory video on the Sing-Off’s season premiere.

First, musical director Stefan Weijola claimed that the Whiffenpoofs invented a cappella, which is both false and just incredibly snooty. Then, for anyone who didn’t already think the ‘Poofs got their jollies from playing out Victorian cosplay fantasies, first tenor Brennan Caldwell said this:

My favorite thing in the world is to dress up in my tux. I feel so inordinately powerful.

Humility fail.

The rest of the time, anyone who spoke was basically just repeating the same self-fellating manifesto: “Everyone is expected to be good. But people expect the Whiffenpoofs to be super fucking awesome – like, curing-cancer-and-transfiguring-gold-from-lumps-of-cheese-whizz-whilst-singing-Cole-Porter levels of awesome. Cuz, you know, YAAAALE.”

After the jump: The Whiffenpoofs perform, everyone makes fun of them

The first week, they sang “Grace Kelly” by Mika. And it was actually pretty decent! Ben Folds called Caldwell’s lead of the song “sassy.” (But in a good way!) Then things took a turn for the “We would rather make fun of you than praise you.” Whatshername from the Pussycat Dolls started called them “little penguins” for the tuxes. She continued along the lines of, “What just happened, you friggin’ weirdos.” In the end, she said she liked it, but the wheels were clearly coming unhinged a little bit.

Then, as no good deed – or complete deviation from the truth – goes unpunished, the dude from Boyz II Men just started tearing into Wejiola for claiming the ’Poofs were the Jesus Christ Superstars of a cappella. Which was fair.

The following week, the Swifferpoofs performed “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Bublé, and basically squandered whatever remaining good will they held on to, because Michael Bublé is just awful. In accordance with proper decorum, they were then teased mercilessly.

First, Pussycat Dolls called them gay. Then Boyz II Men said their leads were weak. And Ben Folds said it reminded him of Broadway. (He meant it to be nice, because Ben Folds is incapable of being mean, but Bublé plus Broadway equals something at the very least embarrassing.)

Said Turcza:

There were some comments during the actual show that were much more inappropriate[then what aired], actually, but they edited those out for the TV version.  Nothing we saw really fazed us.

And, that’s fine, but you have to admit that it wasn’t the ’Poofs finest hour. Maybe next time leave the ego, if not the tuxedos, at home. And, for the love of god, drop the Bublé.

  • http://twitter.com/Trace_Urdan Trace Urdan

    The television viewer saw the storyline that the producers wanted them to see. If you train a camera on anyone (esp a 20 yr-old) long enough they will say something regrettable. NBC wanted them to appear snooty and out-of-touch and so they did. End of story.

  • http://www.unequally-yoked.com Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, Peter; Victorian cosplay rocks! Steampunk forever: http://www.dollsofcolor.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Steampunk-Lincoln-steampunk-1038417_600_750.jpg

  • Eli

    Dan Turcza looks so incredibly pompous in the first clip.

  • Mr. Peabody

    Well, I say let the hoi polloi have their a capella. Yale will always be first in gentlemanly club life!

  • cole porter

    a cappella. two p’s, two l’s.

    • Anonymous

      Whoops. That’s correct.

  • Marcus

    Sadly they did come off as snooty. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch when one of the members felt the need to “conduct” the rest of the group, I wonder if he noticed that none of the others were even paying attention to him?

  • Marcus

    Sadly they did come off as snooty. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch when one of the members felt the need to “conduct” the rest of the group, I wonder if he noticed that none of the others were even paying attention to him?

  • Chelsea

    The whole “inventing a cappella” comment was arrogant and snooty, I’ll agree with everyone there. So naturally I was happy when Shawn verbally smacked Stephan in the face for his rude comment. The judges comments I did not find to be as judgmental as everyone else seems to think. But good points about editing have been brought up, so I just take it all for what it is and let it go. And overall, for a group of 14 twenty-one year old guys I think they are all pretty decent. They have their moments, sure, who doesn’t? That shouldn’t be held against them though. I think that they are a group of fun, intellectual, and talented young men. Good for them, Good luck to them all.

  • Anonymous

    They have their moments, of course, that does not work? This should not be considered appropriate. I think they are a fun group, intellectuals and young talent. Good luck to them, good for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    I think they are a group of fun, intellectual, and talented young men. Good for them Good luck to all.

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