Monday, June 17, 2013

That One Time I Went To The America's Got Talent Audition & What I Learned About Writing

So, a couple of months ago, they were filming auditions for America's Got Talent in NYC. And tickets were free.
My sister and her friends needed a chaperone (almost 18 isn't 18), and so I, as the OLD FART big sister, got to accompany them.
DISCLAIMER: nobody checked ID's. Nobody cared.
But I love my sister and her friends (she has good taste) so I was totally okay going.
She took it as a win to Project-Get-KK-To-Stop-Hermitting, so it was a win for all.

I had never been to a taping of any TV show, so all of it was super new for me. Besides the part that I got to watch auditions of some seriously talented people, I got somewhat of a backstage view on the taping of TV shows.

Before taping started- all kinds of people were running over that stage. (Too bad I don't have a picture of the parade of sweepers. That was awesome.)
And while I learned many, many, many things at the taping (it was four hours long. There was plenty of time to learn things), here are a few of them. Coincidentally, they can all be applied to writers and creators.

1. It always takes a village.
You think Mel B's hair is that perfect? She had three people working on it between each act. Personally, I would have LOST MY FREAKIN MIND WITH ALL THE PEOPLE TOUCHING ME ALL THE TIME, but she's used to it. Howie had his head shined. Everyone's makeup was touched up between takes.

The judges!
You may see a finished product, but rarely does it have the amount of work you think it does.
And more importantly, there is always a team of super wonderful people behind the wings.

2. You can't just say you're the next star of AGT/whatever, you need to back it up with proof.
Honey, by going on the show, we know you THINK you're the greatest thing since sliced bread. But confidence when backed up by nothing is just misplaced ego.
3. Sometimes, going the tried and true path will get you nowhere. And sometimes stretching TOO far out of your comfort zone will get you nowhere.
Don't try to be exactly like the last person who won. Copycatting will not get you anywhere. Be yourself. Conversely, don't try too hard to be SO SUPER DIFFERENT!!! Because then you're focusing more on being different than on the actual content, which will ultimately flop.

4. Know your audience.
Know what they like. It's okay if everyone isn't in your group of audience, but make sure that those who are are the ones who LOVE what you do. (Marketing tips FTW!)

5. You've only got a limited time to make your impression.
On AGT, you've got a minute and a half. With writing, you've got the first paragraph. Your Twitter bio.
In short, not that much time or space.
Take time to make sure your first impression is a great one.

6. Show them the most exciting part. KNOW what the most exciting parts are.
One of the biggest disappointments of the night was a group of musicians- they were practicing onstage before the taping began, and they were really awesome. But then when they actually performed, we realized that the bit we saw was the only good part. They had potential- but it was hidden in all the boring parts that if we hadn't seen it before, we never would have known.

7. Everyone's idea of talent is going to be a little different.
There's singing, there's dancing, there's instrumental. Finding a way to make them uniquely magical is where you'll shine. Finding a way to leverage your talent and your ideas into something uniquely magical will bring the peoples to your door. Complete with cookies and chocolate and admiration. And booze. Because. 

8. Sometimes they'll laugh at the beginning, only to gape in shock at the end.
Example: This weird creepy guy who suddenly was floating in air (Special Head).
NOTE: this is not something you should rely on, because while it may get cool, there will be that part that remembers the weird in the beginning. (See #6)

9. You may think you're telling one story, may think you've got one message and what winds up happening is it's a completely different message- but one you needed to send the world.
I'M DYING TO TELL YOU exactly which act I'm talking about, but they haven't shown it yet, and I know they will, and I don't want to go all spoilery on you.
Because it is magical, beautiful, and earth-shatteringly inspiring.
It involves two boys and a hoop.

10. Sometimes, they might say no. And that's not always a bad thing.
Exhibit A, of course, being Lindsey Sterling.
For those of you who don't know who Lindsey Sterling is (please remedy that right now thank you), she's an incredible violinist-hip-hop-dancer. She didn't end up winning AGT, but she has a significant audience of crazed fans.
(Comprised of many people, including writers who use her music as background when they write.)

11. Talents can be expressed in all kinds of bizarre ways. But please, for the love of God and all things that are holy, please don't recite erotic poetry.
Really. Please. Please. Please.
Just.... don't.
I'm still traumatized, and therapy don't come cheap.

12. If you work hard, maximize your talent, know who you're talking to and they know you're talking to them? You'll be going to Vegas, baby!
Yeah, that one is pretty self-explanatory.

I finally watched the first episode last night, and thankfully, my goofy mug was not plastered all over the internets for the whole freakin' universe to see.
Fame and fortune will come a different way, I suppose.

Happiest of Mondays!

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