Mostly, the show's take on show choir rings true. But a few things aren't quite like they were for this former high school singer.


 

True confession: I was in show choir in high school.

All. Four. Years.

I did jazz hands for class credit. Dressed in a bow tie/cummerbund combo that matched the girls’ outfits, I looked like part of a huge, acne-inflicted, braces-wearing wedding party. And instead of singing any of the day’s popular hits (Duran Duran, the Cars, Madonna), we crooned painfully out-of-date renditions of “Fever” and “Get Me To The Church On Time” because they appealed to our core audiences of retirement home residents, our parents and company Christmas parties that couldn’t afford better entertainment.

And I had a blast.

This was a class where I got to dance with girls. People paid money to see us perform. And even the most delinquent of our juvenile singers earned B grades.

So I’m digging the new Fox television show “Glee,” about a teacher who rejuvenates his career and life when he sponsors a high school glee club. The socially awkward wannabe American Idols and Broadway stars populating high school halls are the heroes of the story.

And it’s about time. Show choir has an image problem. Instead of being seen as an incubator for tomorrow’s vocal music talent, it’s usually portrayed as a refuge for non-athletes, the geeky and weird or (worst of all) ridiculously earnest kids whose only talent is butchering harmonies.

Sure, my high school show choir had its moments of cacophony (and things aren’t always smooth on “Glee”). But you know what? I think more people remember high school like “Glee” than like “Friday Night Lights.” Not everyone was an athlete or a cheerleader. Not everyone was cool or popular. And not everyone knows by age 16 that music is an amazing creative and emotional outlet that you can enjoy for the rest of your life, long after your knees give out.

So I’m all for “Glee,” created by “Nip/Tuck’s” Ryan Murphy (no relation). The music is tight, the writing is quirky, and it’s a kick to see the music kids getting their own show.

Mostly, Ryan Murphy’s take is similar to what I remember during my Reagan-era stint in show choir. But a few things about “Glee” aren’t quite like I recall. Let’s take a look from an insider’s perspective.

RYAN MURPHY’S “GLEE”

1. Football star secretly wants to sing, upsets status quo by doing both.

2. Cheerleaders audition in secret attempt to destroy suddenly relevant glee club.

3. Only losers, geeks and the deluded join glee club.

4. Kids sing recent hits by current artists (Kanye West, Amy Winehouse) alongside 20-year-old songs (Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”) they might know only if their parents know how to work an iPod (One character asks, “What’s a ‘Luftballoon?’”).

5. Egos roar when girl with great voice balks at singing harmony or backup vocals. “I’m Beyonce, not Kelly Rowland!”

6. Cheerleading coach, accustomed to being the star of the school (her squad was on Fox Sports Net!), viciously schemes to destroy glee club because the club’s startup money came from her ridiculously generous budget.

7. Glee club teacher puts in crazy hours after work for this extracurricular activity.

8. A character exclaims: “There is nothing ironic about show choir!”

9. As long as glee club doesn’t cost the school any money or cause him any stress, the principal secretly enjoys seeing the cheerleading coach taken down a notch.

BRIEN MURPHY’S MEMORY

1. After complaining for two years that his football teammates teased him for being in show choir, our best baritone quit.

2. Cheerleaders — who knew something about dance — choreographed many of our tunes.

3. Homecoming queen my sophomore year? Show choir member. Homecoming king my senior year? Show choir member. Boo-yah.

4. Lacking a major TV network’s financial resources to pay royalties on current songs, we sang pre-1960 musical theater tunes, 1950s pop hits (“Come Go with Me”), and zillions of songs arranged or written by Kirby Shaw, who was always featured on the cover of the sheet music in a maroon-tinted photo wearing a shirt that appeared to have been fashioned from a checkered tablecloth. We would have preferred to sing “Don’t Stop Believing.”

5. I wanted to be Daryl Hall. I was barely John Oates.

6. Not once did a faculty member belittle us for singing. But every story needs a villain.

7. Show choir teacher had us in class an hour a day, but she still put in crazy hours after work.

8. True story: My brother’s dog’s Facebook page (you heard me right) recently dripped with irony with this status update: “Show choir made me the man I am today.”

9. Our principal attended many school events. But I only recall seeing vice principals at show choir concerts. Hmm ...

The State Journal-Register