Sometimes I do things on a whim because, when it really comes down to it, I think pretty highly of myself. I don’t want to come off as a stuck-up, self-promoting asshole but sometimes the shoe fits…
Seriously though, I like to think I should try things because, “you never know.” I think I need to trademark that for New York Lottery so I’ll go ahead and consider myself protected.
And since I play the guitar and have sung in the shower my whole life the next logical step was to try out for America’s Got Talent where I would sing for people – who will be JUDGING MY WHOLE EXISTENCE ON THIS ONE PERFORMANCE – for the first time ever!
Let me clear that up.
I had never sung in front of ANYONE EVER before I tried out for America’s Got Talent.
Not at a backyard BBQ, not in front of my fiance, not even in the mirror. I WAS AFRAID TO SING IN FRONT OF MYSELF!
I would have a hard time listening back to what I played when I recorded myself for that sole purpose.
That’s how much performance anxiety I had surrounding my vocal abilities.
But there I was waking up at 4am to head into the city where I ended up on a shady looking block that had a street light every 300 yards or so. Not the ideal location for a person trying out for America’s Got Talent but a great location for someone looking to commit a mugging and/or a murder.
Just when I thought I was in the wrong place it turns out America’s Got Talent likes to really throw people for a loop when they go to audition, making sure they have the moxie to go through every aspect, even if a part of that is fending off a hoard of homeless people looking for any type of human connection.
I find the correct location, which appeared to be an abandoned mental hospital spanning all of 9th Avenue, entered, and got to say the words “I’m here for an audition” for the first time in my life. It’s a weird thing to say when you know you’re going to fail miserably but still hold a glimmer of hope because there is always the “bad auditions” and maybe I could get on TV that way.
My plan was not well thought out at this point.
It’s interesting to stand on line with people who feel they have something truly remarkable to show the world. For a moment there I thought I had a gift that could resonate through people and invigorate them enough to vote for me to win the competition.
Some – I’d say most – had visions of grandeur. Clearly needed to be slapped down by someone who didn’t give a shit about them. The type of person you applaud for because they had the audacity to get on stage and give people their all. So, in that case, it was actually somewhat heart warming. In my case I knew I could carry a tune but some of these people were so out of the musical spectrum that if they sat at a piano it would transform into a human and run away to save itself from the pain and suffering these people would put it through.
What they don’t show you on TV is that you have to sit in a room with a bunch of people you don’t know for about 3 hours until they call your number. Most people don’t mind this part but I’m kind of an introvert – two points about that, 1. I’m starting to get out of my shell and 2. I hadn’t thought about the whole “be crazy and get on TV” portion of this competition – which means I didn’t dance and sing and talk to people as much as other people. In fact I was so nervous that even when I was practicing to audition I would keep it quiet so other people couldn’t hear me.
I was clearly mentally prepared to make it beyond the audition portion and to perform IN FRONT OF THOUSANDS in person and MILLIONS over the airwaves.
They call my number and I make my way to a pseudo staging area where we end up being put into a line like in kindergarten and ushered to a room that was reminiscent of where Joe Pesci ended up in “Goodfellas.” That’s also a great reference because, like Joe, I totally didn’t expect to be murdered when I stepped in there.
I performed, not like I did 300 times in my head where I blew away every person that watched me and was immediately ushered to join Dave Matthews on tour.
I guess that’s my dream.
So I didn’t perform the way I wanted to and I wasn’t called to make the show but it was a lesson that took me many months to learn, it’s worth putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation and to succeed you really need to give it all you have and practice, not just assume you’re going to be amazing at something right away.
Also, word to the wise, it’s never someone’s FIRST time performing in front of someone “besides their family” EVER on the show.