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.
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.)
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.