Hot Lixx Hulahan vs. America's Got Talent
Two months later…
Shocking only to my mom, I did not win America's Got Talent. But since all participants on the show signed non-disclosure agreements ($10,000 fines per infraction) I was pretty tight-lipped about how things went down. I waited eagerly but silently to see how I would be nationally lambasted on primetime network television. I was also prepared to be cut entirely.
For the weeks leading up to the premiere episode I was told I appeared in numerous teaser commercials, so my hopes were high enough that I broke my NDA and sent out an email to all my friends and family warning them that I might be on TV. It pained me to know that I was actually encouraging people to watch television but the whole notion of what I did was silly enough that I felt justified.
Ari and his fiancée invited my girlfriend and I over to his house to watch the first episode together. He needed some company (and some drinks) to bare the occasion. After a sushi and pizza dinner we sat down to watch. And here is where we got a better understanding of how "reality tv" works.
This first episode was dubbed the "Dallas" episode. Jerry kept refering to "everyone here in Dallas" as if he were actually in Dallas. He was not. He was on the same stage in Burbank, CA that we were on. The stage was the same stage as ours only instead of a big neon CHICAGO there was a big neon DALLAS. They even showed the door to the studio with its big CBS Studios, Burbank, California emblem. The program started with footage from outside the Dallas convention center where lines of people waited for their chance to get in for an audition. The show is then seamlessly cut to make it look like those people walk straight from their audtion to the stage in front of the studio audience and judges.
This editing technique explained why we were supposed to wear the exact same outfits we wore to our first auditions.
It must have been decided that Ari and I's group was going to be from Chicago, hence the big "CHICAGO" sign on our stage.
So Ari and I figured out pretty quickly that we weren't going to be on this episode (helped by the fact that our friends back east were angrily calling and texting us when the show finished airing out there). No, if we made the cut we would be on the CHICAGO episode even though we never stepped foot in Chicago.
When I got home there was an endless collection of upset, bitter phone messages and emails from people who felt I owed them 2 hours of their life back. I apologized profusely to them all and told them, "Don't hold me to it, but if I am on the show it will probably be the "Chicago" episode."
Two more weeks go by and the Chicago episode finally airs. I have been in all the commercials leading up to the airing (ha, AIRing) and even people who had no idea I was on the show are contacting me and asking about it. I feel pretty strongly that I will be on, hoping that my response to Surly Brit (my 'hook') will ensure me some airtime (ha, AIRtime) (sigh...).
So nine months of auditioning and interviewing and answering cell calls at work and flying around with a sombrero all came down to this fantastical performance on America's Got Talent, posted here in it's entirety:
Did you catch it? I was the guy playing air guitar for .8 seconds.
After seeing myself in the opening credits (where that clip was taken) I kinda felt like maybe I was gonna have a larger roll on the show itself, ya know? I watched and watched but after a while I started to get that sinking feeling, like I was going to have to send out another apology email to everyone for enduring 28 minutes of commercials and 15 minutes of distinctly unclever put-downs. I knew my time had passed when I heard Surly Brit judge tell someone else they were the stupidest act he'd ever seen. They cut his comment made to me (I recognized the inflection and pauses) and applied it to someone else's performance, just like how they edited the opening credits to make it look like Sharon told me I had the worst sounding guitar.
Ari's performance, on the other hand, was showed almost entirely (with only a few edits that actually make him look like he bombed even harder that he did). Thankfully though, the guy who received the most air time on the entire episode was a guy who broke stuff with his butt:
So that was it. All that preparation and anticipation, for 30 frames of TV. It is interesting to consider how much money and time they spent just on me, let alone the hundreds of other people that also got as far as I did.
I guess the easiest way to assess whether or not an experience was worth it is by answering the question "Would you do it again?" And I would totally do this again. Totally. Sure, I was disappointed that I didn't get much airtime and even moreso by the fact that I encouraged people to overlook what an awful waste of time network TV is, but I still had a blast and made some good and interesting friends. And free travel is pretty hard to wag a finger at.