Friday, February 08, 2008

The Audition: The Part One

So last Saturday, I decided to take a break from my busy schedule of watching "The World’s Cutest Puppies" and washing my sweatpants to go audition for America's Got Talent. I’ve been doing standup for a couple of years and haven’t ever been urged to get offstage or pelted with handfuls of gravel, so why not give it a go? Gettin' on the tee-vee would be great exposure, could make it easier to score gigs in better clubs* and the show's winner gets a million bones, which might be enough to convince Hugh Laurie to make out with me. Also, this year’s host is Jerry Springer, giving me the chance to share a stage with him without being slapped, marrying a sailboat, or having sex with an elm tree.

I mistakenly assumed that since I pre-registered online, I’d just roll up at my assigned time, show my skillz and drive home in less time than it takes to assemble most IKEA furniture. Um…not quite. What they forget to mention on their site is that you’ll be standing in line with several thousand other pre-registered people, slowly snaking between lines of caution tape like the world's only Dreamgirls-spewing crime scene**.

I checked in, which meant that one of the megaphone-wielding men (think BeBop and RockSteady with polo shirts) skipped eye contact in favor of shouting "TAKE YOUR PLACE AT THE END OF THE LINE" in my general direction. My place was directly behind a twitchy fortysomething man who was wearing enough velvet to craft a dozen Elvis paintings.

“Hi! What’s your talent? Singing? Are you a singer? What do you think I should sing?” Black Velvet immediately yapped. I wasn’t sure he was talking to me since I was wearing sunglasses, headphones, and an expression I borrowed from Bea Arthur. “I just don’t know whether to do Michael Buble or Josh Groban? Buble or Groban?! I just can’t decide!” and he stomped a tiny, velvet-covered foot for emphasis.

“Either way,” I shrugged, because both of them remind me of waiting for the next available bank teller.

“Are you a singer”, a claw-banged woman swooped in and asked. “A singer? What are you singing?” If I got a buck for every time those questions were slung, I could’ve stuffed my wallet, skipped out of line and gone straight to Hugh Laurie’s place. “Oh. You're a comedian." She spat out the word like a piece of riblet gristle. "I'm a singer.” No shit. Other than me, everyone was a singer, leaving me disappointed that America didn't have other talents, like sorcery or arson or corpse reanimation.

A team of nicotine-scented production assistants worked the line constantly, handing out numbers and release forms, taking Polaroid pictures (Polaroids, really? Moving away from dagguerotypes for Season 3?) and barking “THIS IS NOT IDOL, PEOPLE!” in response to any question, whether relevant (Can I step out of line to pee? Where exactly would I pee? Since we're four inches apart, is the megaphone really necessary?) or not (Is Simon here? What’s the capital of Uruguay? I’ve forgotten, is this Idol?).

They’re right, though. It’s not Idol, because there isn’t an age limit. Unlike "The Show We Do Not Speak Of " who saves their auditions for the under-28 set, AmGoTa will see anyone with a release form and a Polaroid, as illustrated by the shriveled old bat behind me whose talent appeared to be just making it through the day without crumbling into dust.

Actually, the middle-aged set made up a larger percentage of the crowd than I would’ve expected, which made some chunks of the line completely interchangeable with the Housewares department at Sears. Are you here to perform, sir, or just to pick up a new Crockpot and a socket wrench?

By 2 p.m. I had inched closer to the door. BeBop spotted my Blackjack and bellowed “IF THAT PHONE HAS A CAMERA, YOU WILL NEED TO RETURN IT TO YOUR VEHICLE. YOU CANNOT RECORD ANYTHING YOU SEE HERE TODAY. THIS IS NOT IDOL.” Well, of course, because inside there could be nuclear prototypes and cloned embryos and maybe a fucking hula dancer. By all means, allow me to trek back to my car, lest I inadvertently steal a secret. I’ll detach my retinas while I’m there.

The morning had shaped up to be one of the longest of my life. At this rate, I would reach the hotel in time to audition for season 84. Old Dusty Springfield behind me has no chance. On cue--as if she'd intercepted my thought--she creaked her head towards me, coughed out a cloud of locusts and rasped, “So...are you a singer?”

To be continued...
UPDATE Continued here.

*Clubs where I may get paid in actual money instead of with handful of Chex Mix and a guest pass for DJ Thumper's All-Nite Ball-Nite Featuring DJ Scrote, DJ Pockmark, & DJ Limbic System
**After 6 hours of hearing horrid Jennifer Hudson impressions, I have written a coda to the song entitled “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going (To Bludgeon You With A Folding Chair Unless You Keep Squawking Out These Lyrics)”.


A Lover and a Fighter said...

I need to know what happened RIGHT NOW!

dmbmeg said...

I second what she said.

Holly said...

I resent the hell out of the Dreamgirls movie for taking a perfect audition song that you could pretty much guarantee no one else in the room would be singing and making it Idol fodder.

Nate said...

What Holly said, only I feel that way about all music at this point.

Can't wait to see what happens next. (This is some of the best writing you've done on this site so far.)

J-Money said...

L&F/DMB- Part the Second is coming soon. As soon as I repair the furniture my puppy gnawed as I wrote Part The First.

Holly- Wasn't Idol Fodder the name of a Ned's Atomic Dustbin album?

Nate- Thanks! One day my site will be like yours, where all of the writing is good all of the time.

Anonymous said...

I am more excited about this "to be continued..." then that time I watched "a very special episode of Blossom...."

Please...hurry back to us.


Kayleigh said...

Please hurry back to us is right! I'm hanging on the edge of my couch here! Thanks for taking us behind the scenes- I've always wondered how auditions like that go down.

P.S. "Also, this year’s host is Jerry Springer, giving me the chance to share a stage with him without being slapped, marrying a sailboat, or having sex with an elm tree."

Are you kidding me? Laughing so hard.

the boy who likes to... said...

So what was you auditioning for? Idol?

Rachelskirts said...

I was hooked from the minute you mentioned Hugh Laurie, and I was laughing every second after that. I am 100% in love with you and your blog! I want to go hug people! And smile! And adopt kittens!

Sadly, I have work to do. At midnight. Lamesauce.

(The work is sooo going to have to wait 'til I catch up on more of your blog, though.)

Scott S. Semester said...

Hey, late to the game on this one, but I wanted to add that I would totally watch "America's Got Arson," but only if it was hosted by Jerry Springer.