I approached a man with a white beard in a white suit, carrying a big bag. “Hi, and what talent are you auditioning?” I asked with a friendly smile. He told me he specializes in French African Gibberish. His drumming and voice are so loud, it was said he could be heard 1/4 miles away! He lives in an Ashram… “Good luck – you are one cool dude,” I retorted, and got back in line.
After an hour, I knew I should get some lunch. The food cart just outside the line was doing quite well, but it didn’t look too appetizing, nor did the porta-potties. So, I introduced myself to the young man in front of me and told him I’m going out for lunch and if he would like a sandwich. He hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and said he would if it’s my treat, and my choice. Ray is a rapper from the Bronx. Joe stood behind me. He worked for forty-something years for the railroads, leaving his home in Deleware on Monday and returning on Thursday, making the most of every weekend with his wife. He loves working and doesn’t want to stop, that is unless he got chosen to move to the top of America’s Got Talent with his comedy. Joe declined my offer of a sandwich.
Off I went to a deli two blocks away that also had clean toilets! I returned to the line, that was now winding around the block, finding my friends easily since they didn’t move forward all that much. I gave Ray an egg and cheese sandwich, and ate my tuna sandwich on the curb near my place in line. A ‘ripped’ break dancer with his bare chest exposed, greeted his high school buddies standing a few people behind me. They started taking about moves so i joined the conversation, learning a technique called rope pulling: You pull the top with one hand and the other arm moves in that direction. Very cool looking.
After getting through security, we were herded into one of four areas. One area at a time was released to visit the registration desk. During this time, I saw some new faces…a beatboxer who was phenomenal, twins named Kelvin and Melvin that did cap tricks, and another guy who did sneaker tricks. I also met a 6th grade singer accompanied by her parents, a 7th grade violinist with his two brothers and parents, and oh so many more. At 5:30PM, our herd was released for the registration tables, and I got out of the dark coldness into a warm and very crowded building. I searched around for an empty chair and sat next to a 25 yr old opera singer, a Josh Groban type, who discovered he could sing while driving the distance to get radiation for a sarcoma in his leg. His dad said, we will just sing our way to and from the treatments. And his voice was born.
The AGT 2013 winner Kenichi Ebina greeted the crowds…I ran over and got a pic with him! He is an amazing dancer and it’s worth watching his dance that won him his own show on a Las Vegas stage…plus one million dollars!
By 7:00 PM, my number was included in the next 50 acts called. I was grouped with dancers and together all 10 acts entered the room with for part one of the audition. Several of the guys shook the judge’s hand. She had sanitizer on her desk for good reason. I decided to just say hi. The first thing Lisa said was an apology for the long wait. I thought it was thoughtful of her to acknowledge the ridiculously long wait. Then, we each had 90 seconds to show her our talent. The tap dancers, the rollerblader, the Nigerian dancers, the break dancers, hat trick guys, sneaker trick dancers…and me. As we left the room, an assistant tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to wait. I returned to the room and Lisa told me how much she loved my energy, my message, my style, and she was recommending me to meet the directors. I entered another room and filled out more papers. I would go on, but I signed a paper that doesn’t permit me to share more information publicly.
The bottom line is that despite the long lines, the day was one of the most memorable I have had in a long time. You may find me rocking in a chair in my 80s and this day will be one of those I reminisce about; the people, the talent, and dreams.
If you ever decide to audition for AGT, go on a Sunday morning, or late in the afternoon on any other day. Also, they don’t tell you this, but bring plenty of snacks and your cell phone charger.