Sunday, January 18, 2004

It's showtime

I'll be writing more about this in Isthmus in a few weeks, but I wanted to mention that I just came from the Civic Center, where auditions were held for an amateur competition on "Showtime at the Apollo," the syndicated variety show taped at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Some highlights:

  • A girl of about nine who swayed her hips and belted Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man." "Being good isn't always easy," crooned the moppet. It's freaky when little kids sing sex jams.

  • A young man who began a standup routine about pop music, blanked, started again and then wouldn't stop even when the judge asked him to repeatedly. I'm no expert on standup, but I believe this was an example of what is known in the business as "dying."

  • A 60ish man who tapped out Rossini's "William Tell Overture" on his cheeks. I don't think this act would be big at the Apollo, but he caused a stir nonetheless. He was wearing a sweater that had creases from a hanger.

    The judge, Vanessa, was a lovely woman. She was all business, but she was friendly to me and supportive of almost everyone who performed. I half expected Simon Cowell-like histrionics and derision, but no: a lot of compliments, a lot of questions, even some pointers.

    I found the auditions moving. I've been thinking a lot about music lately, why people like it, why people make it. I got a glimpse at the answer this morning: because it's fun, and it kicks ass. Keep rockin', kids. You may not make it to the Apollo, but you have a gift, most of you. Work it.
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