Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Okay, so typing on my iPhone was completely maddening. To recap: In the story, I’m performing in a variety show in a theater at a huge housing community. This is the preliminary round, with the finals in a couple of weeks. Two people from my round will make it on to the finals. The winner of the finals gets $1,000, or as I call it, more money than I have made in Los Angeles (That paragraph would have taken me roughly 45 minutes on my iPhone).
I mentioned in the last post who my competition was. The way I saw it, my biggest competition would be the little girl, and the blind girl. I just thought they would both win the crowd over easily.
The show was patterned after America’s Got Talent, where there were industry judges who would give feedback after each performer did their thing. There was a guy who is on the board for AFTRA, a woman, and a British guy. Each performer had about four minutes.
The 100 seat theater is about half full when the show begins. I have two friends out there. There was Catherine, my friend who I met on the plane that works for the show Community, and Bill, who I just met on Saturday who is a college friend of my brother in law. No one else could make it of my friends here.
6:48. The first contestant is up. She’s singing some country song that I don’t know. I’m in the tiny backstage area. I’m quietly talking to the little girl who is performing after me. I’m trying to get in her head so she’ll screw up.
6:53. The first contestant is done and the judges are giving her feedback. They think she is awesome and that she has a real future. This would become thematic for the rest of the night.
6:59. I’m up! I walk out nervously. I can tell in the first 20 seconds of my set whether it’s going to be good or not, usually. I can’t tell so much tonight. Then, I start rolling. Everyone is into it. Since I always share when things go poorly, I think it’s alright when I share that things go well. This went really well. People are eating it up. By then end, the board member of AFTRA judge stands to give me a standing ovation.
7:04. The judges are giving me feedback and asking me questions. I step out of character to interact with them. In my previous life in Springfield, I did a ton of public speaking, even more improv shows, and a lot of hosting. Since February, I’ve been on a stage fewer than 10 times, and only twice since the start of June. You guys, I had forgotten that I am good in front of a crowd. I had just completely forgotten it. The roller coaster of confidence is crazy here. I thought I would be above that, but I haven’t been. Hey, it was a short set at a theater in a housing community, but it felt really good to be reminded that this is what I’m good at. Before I moved out here, I wouldn’t have understood that feeling at all.
7:08. I’m walking off stage telling the little girl, “Good luck.” It sounds nice, but I intend for it to get inside her head.
7:16. Phew. The little girl wasn’t that good. I silently cheer. One down.
7:25. Next up is Rusty Balls. Yep, Rusty Balls. He is the guy from New Zealand intent on wowing the crowd with juggling and whatnot. I’ve got to say, he was pretty darn impressive, but I had a hard time liking him by the time he was done because we were all supposed to do 4 minute sets, but by the end, he had done more than 20 minutes. Seriously. I’m sure he has a Google alert that will bring him to this website, but I don’t care that much. The judges think he has a career in the business. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about him.
7:55. Next up is the other comedian. She is a woman who just looks like she is funny, plus, she has mini bongos strapped to a belt around her waist. She is weird and energetic. She sings a song she made up about LA traffic. Her large contingent of friends are going crazy for her. The judges think she has a career in the business. I’m worried about her. The crowd votes determine the winner, and she has a lot of crowd.
8:07. The blind 16 year old girl is up. I’m concerned that she is going to get a lot of votes both because she is blind, and really really good. She plays a song she wrote on guitar. Please do not judge me for cheering against the eight year old girl and the blind girl. Everyone is competition here. This is Hollywood. Nevermind, it’s fair to judge me. The judges love her and are convinced she has a career in the industry. I’m worried.
8:15. The Beatle Hybrid. He looks like Ringo and George Harrison had a baby. He was a really nice guy in the green room and has only been playing guitar for less than a year. He has a really cool voice, and the song he wrote was so-so. The judges love him, convinced he has a career in the business. I’m not too worried about him.
8:30. The last contestant. The weird and strangely sexy girl singing Aretha Franklin. When I last saw her before the show started, she was crawling on the floor excitedly examining the inconsistencies of the carpet pattern while her dress strap was breaking exposing her bra. She brought her own keyboardist and the girl can wail. She was very good and, indeed, very weird. The judges love her and think she has a career in the business.
8:45. The host comes back out and it’s time to count the votes. Everyone gets to vote for one. I’m wondering if I brought enough friends. When they announce the contestants so everyone remembers, I look around at everyone all friendly like.
9:03. They bring all the contestants back up to the stage. Will I get the chance to win $1,000? Did I bring enough people? Will the random people vote for me?
9:06. The first person moving on to the finals is….The Crazy Sexy Lady who went last. I knew it. There is one slot left. It’s got to go to the blind girl.
9:08. It’s an upset…
9:08. The last contestant moving on is…
9:08. The Beatles hybrid guy. I had no idea he would be going. I think I could have made it through if I had more people come. Oh well.
Afterwards, I had a lot of people come up to me to tell me they liked me. I have not at my ego stroked in a long time. In fact it hasn’t been petted, or touched, or brushed up against, or glanced at for a long time. So, honestly, I really liked it. A lot of the random people there not to cheer for any one person told me they voted for me. One woman asked for my autograph. I gave it to her. I should have charged her for it.
I also talked to the producers of the show, who are British, so carry a weight of importance. They want to use me for future shows. I’m going to take a meeting.
The lessons learned:
-A show in a strange situation like this is actually really entertaining in LA. There is just so much talent wanting to get in front of people. In equal measure, there is weirdness. A show like this back home would have had far less talent and far less weirdness.
-My outlook can be changed from something small like this. Again, I wish I was less affected, but it just came at a good time. On my ride home I looked at the same life circumstances in a more positive light and I was reminded that I can do things well. I understand the dorkiness of that statement stemming from something so small, but that’s okay. I don’t write this to be impressive all the time.
-Karma will bite you in the ass if you cheer against a little girl and a blind girl.