I wanted to get up early and leave my place by 6am. I had trouble sleeping and didn’t leave till after 7am. I woke up in a unpleasant mood but reading all the well wishes from my friends put me right back on The Happy Track. Throughout the day I kept a very positive mood, actually smiling far more then a normal day for me.
The auditions were in LA on October 23 (when I went) and the 24th. The day was NOT the performance auditions that are shown on TV, but a private tryout in front of two or three screeners. The goal is to take the perhaps 3,000 people that tried out over two days (I was #667) and screen them down to perhaps a few hundred that can go in front of the celebrity judges and audience on TV in a few months.
However the crowd shots of people trying out were filmed on that day, and I was repeatedly called by the producers to be at the front of the crowd of several hundred for almost all the shots, thanks no doubt to the purple jacket and hat. I was standing right next to the host Nick Cannon as he would say things like “welcome back to the show, look at this crowd” and the camera would pan out. They also called me over for an interview where I held the “Official Happy Ron Songbook” in front of me as they asked me questions about happiness, “My name is Happy Ron and I’ve got talent!” So when they have the “LA Auditions show” expect to see a lot of me whether or not I actually get to perform.
The crowd as pretty well behaved I thought (with a few loud exceptions) and the whole thing was very professionally run, considering the chaos of having so many people. I arrived at around 9:30 and I ended up waiting a total of 10 hours to play, most of that time in a huge room with 500 other people. Most people seemed relatively normal, there weren’t as many apparent weirdos as I thought there would be, but the ones that were there got plenty of attention. There were at least TWO Michael Jacksons, a female Elvis (“Elvis’s lost daughter” apparently), and a guy who put on a full gorilla suit as he walked into his audition, what he did during it, I do not know.
For my audition I was called into a room with 3 other people. The room had great sound and the atmosphere was relaxed. However they did have a timer and told everyone we had exactly 90 seconds (I heard for some of the other tryouts people were told they could play longer). I was allowed to perform the whole of “Pitter Patter” (which probably ran 10 second over) singing and playing guitar. Since I essentially had ten hours of waiting to “warm up” I think I did a great job on the song. The judges (and their apparent assistant) smiled a lot when I played and seemed to enjoy it. They did not film me. The other 3 people that tried out with me did well I thought
They said they would call me back within a month. What are my chances? Well considering how much attention they gave me before I even tried out (with two different producers deciding to film me) and how well my audition went, I think my odds are good. But we’ll see.
I didn’t run into anyone I know there (surprisingly) until I was leaving and I ran into Michael Sullivan, one of my co-writers for “Terribly Happy”. I drove home and saw Steve Poltz and Bushwalla play at the Belly-Up. A great way to end a great day.
A year or so ago someone casually suggested that I try out for America’s Got Talent. The idea seemed overwhelming to me at the time. It actually made the Happy Man…. UNHAPPY! Then last week I watched my first episode. As I watched and imagined myself on it I felt very stressed out, and actually went to bed a little shook up. By the second time I watched it… Happiness was restored and I started writing down my thoughts. After 80 hours of watching the show and then going to try out here is what I have learned.
My “35” America’s Got Talent Lessons
- “Don’t Stop Playing!” even if buzzed or audience boos,you might win them over and judges may still vote yes
- Stay Happy! Sometimes even acts that aren’t very good get put to the next level because of great energy
- Do what you know and do best. Don’t try to do what you’ve never done before in front of millions of people!
- Be unique but good. There are lots of great performers but the ones that different will be remembered.
- Don’t argue with the judges/audience (unless you are REALLY sure they are wrong). Poor losers never prosper.
- Turn nervousness into excitement: they are actually two sides of the same coin
- Be grateful! Performing is such a honor that so few people get to do, never forget that win or lose.
- Breathe, Breathe! If you don’t breath you die!
- If the judges disagree, listen to the majority and/or the ones that vote FOR you.
- Edit you songs down to less then 90 seconds, go over and you can be disqualified!
- They (almost always) applaud at the end. Even if they booed, they almost always show respect at the end.
- Look at the audience. Interact with them.
- Be real. People love the seeing something real in a very phony business!
- Chose the right song! Or better yet write a great song and perform it. So many acts don’t do either!
- Always listen to Howie Mandel he seems to be the happiest, most balance judge, fair and yet FIRM!
- Know who you are. Don’t let anyone make you into something you’re not.
- Have a story, one that’s real. Everyone has a story, the more motivational the better
- If you make a mistake, keep playing. Poise after problems can be very impressive
- Don’t bad mouth the other contestants. Doesn’t help and makes you look bad and it just ain’t nice
- Playing it safe is the least safe thing you can do.
- Some people will love what you do, other’s won’t. Focus on those who do and don’t hold grudges against those who don’t.
- Be spontaneous (where you can). The secret to being unpredictable is to never know exactly what you are going to do.
- Don’t take your SELF too seriously. But of course take your craft seriously.
- From the moment you get out of your car, you’re on stage. The judges/public often hear about what goes on behind the scene, so treat people with respect.
- Be BIG. Turn UP, way up, the emotion, the sound, the quality. Bigger then life is memorable.
- Put the time in, WORK WORK (but have fun doing it). Successful people always put the time it
- Draw strength from the people that have supported your talent in the past, audience, friends and family
- Read all the FAQs about the audition process and do what they say!
- PLEASE, PLEASE don’t take your shirt off (unless you are hot).
- Audience or no audience for each performance? Makes a difference so prepare!
- Don’t complain about how difficult the signup process is, you were told in advance and nobody wants to hear it.
- Wear a belt and tight clothes. You’ll be bouncing around and don’t want to reveal anything.
- Arrive early for the tryouts, but expect to be there all day.
- Do not take pictures during the tryouts, you can be disqualified!
- Consider how much stuff you bring to the tryouts, you’ll have to lug it around a lot!
Wish me luck!
More from San Diego’s generous and uniquely talented Happy Ron:
Happy Ron’s Website
This article is a composite of two articles written by Happy Ron –
Copyright (c) 2010 Happy Ron
Used by permission. Songwritersmarketplace.com (c) 2010