Cabaret is an interesting and individual art form. My personal opinion is that it should either be a well-crafted, insightful, themed one-woman/man show, OR a rockin' theatrical concert that seamlessly moves from beginning to end with very little banter.
Having witnessed numerous cabaret acts in the last two years of my life, I can say pretty confidently that the bullets listed below are six significant don'ts. Please take them into serious consideration, if you are contemplating performing your own cabaret.
1 - Don't belt an entire song. No matter how vocally skilled you are, ain't nobody gonna wanna hear that. Prove to your audience that you can tell a story through your singing. Save those climactic and earth-shattering notes for when they really matter, for when you will get the most bang for your buck. Plus you don't want the audience wondering if you're developing nodes as you try to sing your own belt-tastic rendition of "Under the Sea."
2 - Don't shit on other performers. Sure, a joke made in good taste that isn't spiteful - that can be funny as long as we can tell you're kidding. However, if you're genuinely mocking one of your peers, well you just look insecure and desperate. I mean c'mon, be original and find something else to scoff at - the state of our U.S. Government for example.
3 - Don't talk about your sex life. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't want to hear about how you lost your virginity, felt weird, and now - here's the song you wrote about it. I guarantee you've written an incredibly uncomfortable hook that goes something like, "all night by candlelight," and you wanna know how that makes us feel? Awkward as fuck.
4 - Don't throw things into the audience. Glitter, candy, Barbie Dolls - don't throw your personal props into an unsuspecting audience. First of all, your aim from stage is inevitably terrible, you can't see anything, and you will probably hit someone in the face, and then you or the venue or both could be sued. Or more specifically - what if I'm enjoying a nice, warm bowl of butternut squash soup? I don't want glitter in that shit. If you ruin my $12 bowl of soup, I might hate you.
5 - Don't call out your band for "messing you up." Chances are you are the one that messed up, and trying to publicly pin it on your MD or band is just tacky. Not to mention DIVA. Take the flub on the chin, and keep it movin'. If you do have to start a number over and you do it with a smile, we will absolutely find you a million times more charming. No performer or performance is perfect, so don't let a slight mistake result in an onstage blame-game.
6 - Don't look miserable. I mean this one is pretty damn obvious. If you look like you want to cry or have your eyes stabbed out with teeny-tiny forks, we will know that you are despising every second of your performance. This makes us feel sad, and taken for granted. We, who love you, shelled out a substantial chunk of change to watch you perform, so please don't look like you want to die. Don't make us doubt how cool you are. Have fun, give us the time of our lives, and make us want to come back for more. We know you have it in you.