Karaoke Series: Monkey Pants, Tempe, Arizona
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Want to find an awesome karaoke place? Who doesn't? This series includes reviews of karaoke businesses visited by hybrid published author BC Brown aka Octocat.
The fact I love karaoke is definitely not a secret. In fact, it is one of the most well-known non-writing things about me. What some people don't know is that I am selective on which karaoke places I spend my time. For my karaoke experience, I want the whole shebang: song selection, crowd participation, atmosphere, food/drinks/specials. My karaoke series reviews businesses based on my karaoke experience. All facilities reviewed have been personally visited by me no less than 3 separate times before reviewing in order to be fair if the business was just having a bad/slow night.
(Disclosure: BC Brown has not received any reimbursement for these reviews. BC has not received any commission, discounts, or benefits for exchange.)
3223 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282
Karaoke multiple nights a week 8pm-2am.
Monkey Pants doesn't have the most robust song selection but does have staple karaoke tunes. The selection process is old-school requiring singers to put their name & songs on slips of paper & turn them into the KJ (karaoke jockey) Host. There have been multiple hosts depending on the night in attendance. Each has been professional although not the greatest at crowd management at/near the turn-in podium. (If you're small & polite, you get overlooked for a long time. Speak up or wait a long time to speak with the host.)
The bar itself is unique, if a little dated. The bar & "activities" area are separated a bit, so it is fairly easy to enjoy karaoke without disturbing those wanting to just drink & chat in the bar area.
Karaoke is held in the same very large area as the pool tables & dartboards but the two areas are divided. The best part of Monkey Pants karaoke is the dedicated stage that is space & well lit with couches, chairs, & even a fireplace. The stage, as well as the bar, is randomly decorated in odd pictures & novelties (like a full-size mannequin leg lamp designed after the leg lamp in A Christmas Story). Karaoke also recently updated their sound system, switching from wired microphones to wireless to allow singers to move around more & interact with the audience.
In addition, there is a large fenced off smoking area on the patio that can be accessed through both the front door to the bar & the karaoke area door. Monkey Pants has extended the sound system outside to still hear the music & if someone is called for karaoke, but you can't sing from out there (no screens & can't take the mic out there). Patrons can also take their drinks out into that area while they smoke, eat, or chat.
Depending on the night, Monkey Pants karaoke can be crickets or crowded. However, since this bar is part of the ASU Mill Ave scene (albeit a bit further south), the crowd is young & enthusiastic. Bar patrons often dance & sing along with more well-known & classic songs, & they applaud for everyone but go - if you'll pardon the pun - ape for anyone who is either wildly entertaining or can really really sing.
Drinks are reasonably priced & decent pours. Bartenders don't skimp on the liquor, & they carry a decent array of beer, including local craft brands. You can spend a fair amount of time trying to get waited on at the bar if it's crowded, however, so I make it a point to order two drinks at a time. If you are seated on the karaoke side, there are wait staff you can flag down to get drinks.
Monkey Pants has some excellent food. The fare is pretty standard bar & grill, but the portions are large & inexpensive. I eat nearly every time I go & have never had a messed up meal or poor-tasting one.
Specials: Monkey Pants has a nightly tradition called Shirtless Shots. It's exactly how it sounds - remove your shirt & get a shot. The special part is that the shot is free with participation. The special doesn't target based on gender & the staff is incredibly astute at making sure that no one is harassed who chooses to or not to participate.
KJs don't make a lot of money. Not at Monkey Pants specifically (I have no idea what the KJs there make), but in general. Most karaoke hosts rely on tips just like a lot of wait staff & musicians. It's the same at Monkey Pants. There is a prominent tip jar displayed but the karaoke host never asks for tips. However, the karaoke host is all in favor of "pay to play" tipping. In other words, if a person is willing to tip (& keep tipping) they can get themselves moved up in the rotation to sing more often. This pay to play tipping can & does favor the more cash-fluid university kids & their large groups in general. So if the night is busy & the crowd is mostly ASU-age kids, know you'll have to keep up with the Jones' if you want to sing more than once every couple of hours. (Seriously, I once spent 4 hours there & only got to sing once but the university kids each sang once an hour.)
Monkey Pants receives 4 Tentacles from the karaoke connoisseur, Octocat.
(3.5 if you go solely because you want to sing, aren't in a large group to sing multiple times doing duets, & aren't financially able to "pay to play" more.)
BC Brown is a hybrid published author with 20 years of experience in writing, marketing, & publishing. She prefers to write in the urban fantasy & fantasy genres but has published works in contemporary fiction, women's lit, & playwriting. She publishes writing-related videos on Youtube & streams live writing content on both Youtube & Twitch.
BC has an urban fantasy series, The Metaphysical Chronicles, available & a contemporary fiction novel, Karaoke Jane, available. She is an active member of the Central Phoenix Writer's Association in Arizona where she lives with her wife, 4 cats, & german shepherd mix dog. Most importantly, she is a fanatic about karaoke!