America’s Got Talent
Have you ever done anything out of your comfort zone? Due to my shyness, I normally don’t step out of that secure boundary. However, this year I did. After Season 12 of America’s Got Talent finished airing, I learned that they were having preliminary auditions in Nashville, TN., for Season 13, which is only about an hour or so away from me. It was then I got the wild-hair idea to order a ticket and see if I could get one. To my surprise, I received it. That was my first OMG moment. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “To go or not to go, that is the question!”
Now the next obvious question is, if I did go, what kind of talent would I do? I play a little guitar, but my fingers have more rust on them than a hundred-year old nail. What about a martial arts’ routine? Not practical. Though I held a 4th degree black belt in my younger days, that’s been too many years and two artificial hips joint replacements ago. How about dancing? No, it would take a magician’s magic for me to dance and not make a total fool of myself. Would singing be an option? Heck no!!! Sir Simon would have me arrested for the murder of a song, and he would be completely vindicated by others who heard me, so that is out. So what do I do? Only one answer comes to mind – POETRY! Hold on now, I know what you’re thinking. “Poetry! On AGT! Is she completely mental!” Probably, is my answer.
Now for the other big question, if I’m going to do with thing, what to wear? Do I wear a dress? No, I only own one and don’t care much for dresses anyway. Jeans and a nice blouse? That would be too ordinary. If I’m determined to do poetry, I need to stand out. I decided to dress as a character. But what character? The answer is obvious, since I paraphrased him earlier, I decided to dress as none other than the great bard himself – Shakespeare. I ordered a costume. When I tried it on, I thought, “Not too bad!” It actually made me look thinner than I am. Which is a good thing, for I’ve heard it said, television makes you look several pounds heavier – if I even made it that far, which I doubted.
A couple of months later, the day of the big audition arrived. Unfortunately, it snowed where I live and the roads were covered with visible and invisible black ice. To paraphrase the character I dressed as once again, as well as the postman’s creed, “To go? Or not to go? That is the question. Whether ’tis smarter to take a chance on ending up in a ditch, or brave the elements and carry on like a postman, through rain, snow, dark of night, etc.” I decided to brave the elements and arrived unscathed.
The number of people at the audition was mind-blowing. Before they opened the doors, there were at least 300 or more people ahead of me, and I arrived an hour early. Behind me, they were lining up quickly and in minutes there were just as many people behind me as in front of me with more filing in. In my mind, I was thinking that this line was going to take forever to get through, but as soon as the doors opened, I found the registration tables moved swiftly like a well-oiled machine. I didn’t have to wait but for a few minutes to check in and verify my paperwork.
As I waited for the next phase, which was the audition itself, I listened to and saw several people practice what they were going to do. I was impressed. At one point, I was standing with a group of people surrounding a young man who was singing in the middle while a woman taped it on her cell phone. He was very good. I watched two other people do their thing in the middle and then when the woman who was recording it on her cell phone said, “Who’s next?” I don’t know what possessed me, but I said, “I’ll go!” I get in the middle and shout, “Shakespeare is in the house!” I got a round of woot, woots, cheers and applause. I do my poem and literally get a standing ovation (since everyone is standing anyway). My costume also got several compliments throughout the day.
Finally, after about an hour or so, we’re lined up according to talents, such as sing, dancing, variety acts and so on. I go into a room with about 20 others to audition. That meant I was going to have a small audience as I performed. The judge told us that when everyone was finished, some of us might be called up to the table afterward, but not to think anything of it. Then the auditions began. Several of them were magicians. It was pretty cool to watch. Then it was my turn. I was last. Thankfully my tongue didn’t trip over my eye teeth and I was able to get through it without blowing it. As I was going back to my seat, I was thinking, that afterward, I would go out to eat somewhere in Nashville, but then I remembered I came dressed in my costume. I may have braved the audition as a 16th century character, but not the looks I would get in a restaurant. I could have kicked myself for not bring a change of clothes.
As I was waiting to be released to got home, the judge who I performed for thanked us and said we could leave, except for three acts. The first two people were called, and then, came my second OMG moment. My name was called. “Me! Really!” I thought. After all, I was just doing this for a lark; something different to do on a Saturday to have a little fun. Who’s going to pick someone doing poetry for AGT. Color me surprise. They ask me to stay and do it again in another room, which naturally I did. They told me not to read anything into this repeat performance of my audition so I didn’t.
After a long, but fun day ( 9:00 a.m. to 4:oo p.m.), I trek home. I didn’t think much about it, (you know that’s a lie, don’t you, lol) until a couple of weeks later, when I receive an email congratulating me. I’d made it to the first round of judges cuts (the taped editions). This was my third OMG moment!
I flew out to LA to perform before Simon, Howie, Mel B. and Heidi. Before that took place there was the backstage activities to do. To me, this was pretty awesome. The backstage production staff of AGT made this practically unknown author feel special; like a star. I was taped over and over, had pictures taken of me, had interviews with staff and other acts. To my surprise, in conversation with a member of the production staff I interviewed with, I learned that he went to the same Catholic Elementary school I attended when I was in the first grade, though many years apart. Talk about a small world. While back stage, I met some wickedly talented and very nice people.
Before the stars arrived to see the acts, I was asked to go out on stage for the first time for a mic check, and what I consider a dry run. Being on a big stage like that is daunting. Nervousness got the better of me, and I totally blow my little poem that I’ve only been reciting for over 25 years. It was embarrassing, but thankfully it wasn’t the real thing.
After that, more waiting was involved, but I had interesting people to talk with and the behind the scenes activities were enjoyable to watch. Then my moment had finally arrived. I was nervous and as I walked out on the stage to stand on the spot which was marked with that big, red “X”, I got to Simon, Howie, Mel B. and Heidi in person. As they asked me questions, my nervousness started to subside. I enjoyed interacting with them. There was some funny stuff said between me and them, especially with Simon, and it was a blast. I became comfortable on stage at this point and was asked to began my poem. Then as I thought from the beginning, the X-ing started.
When it was all said and done, I still didn’t know if my performance would make it on National TV. There were so many who auditioned and only so many of those performances could be aired. It wasn’t until the 3rd episode was about to air, that I was informed that I’d made the show. My fourth OMG moment. Even though it was just a cameo of my total time on stage before the judges, I’d still made it. Half my poem was heard to the point of my first X, I was able to say my name and that I was an author. That was more than most of the cameos got. Was I disappointed that my chance for a million dollars got thrown under the bus? Yes and not really at the same time. That million dollars would have enabled me to possibly produce my books to film. However, I had known from the beginning that I would never make it past the first round. I never dreamed that this adventure would have even taken me as far as it did. Would I try it again if they came to a nearby location again? One never knows. I just might. Not necessarily to win the million, but for a life experience and a repeat of the fun I did have. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
Here is the the Youtube Link of my performance:
If you’d like to read the poem in its entirety, its in my book titled, The Poet’s Moon. It’s called Spider Rap.