Analysis: Previous experience

Thousands of people audition for reality TV. Few manage to distinguish themselves from the herd.

I distinguished myself from the herd on three different reality show-biz-audition shows. And yet the producers have failed at their job of turning my talent into entertaining TV.


Because producers always want to "get in on the act." If my act is that good on its own, just imagine how great it will be if they pull the puppet strings!

Unfortunately, I do not react to string-pulling as their experience informs them most puppets should react.

American Idol

There was a big mess of silly versus serious. The cattle-call judge when I sang silly that I wasn't what they were looking for that season. A cattle-call producer said he didn't care what I sounded like, he likes my look so he put me through to the next round. So I did what I thought they wanted, I kept my look and changed from silly song to serious song. Nigel "hinted" that I should sing silly, but I had no reason to look for hints (and good reason not to sing silly) - so it was a mess and I never made it on Idol.

If I had an inkling of guilt that I was playing-the-system, I would have looked for hints. No guilt, and Nigel's hint went over my head.

So I guess I was maybe/somewhat at fault, but the producers could have had fun TV if they had just honestly asked/discussed "What do you think of singing silly?" And I would have told them the story and we would have worked something out. But puppet pullers don't want to be honest, they want to manipulate, and that's why I am not an American Idol.

You're the One that We Want

My plan was to be the NOT John-Travolta-Impersonator.

My expectation was that the director would say, "You're a great singer/talent, but you're just too far from ballpark expectations of Danny Zuko."

Instead, the producers had the "mean judge" be overly harsh to me. They expected me to appeal to the director, who would give me another chance, and the "mean judge" would say "I respect the Tony Award winning judge so much, I'm now a big fan of the Darkwinner!" (This would help the otherwise-awkward-non-chemistry of people judging first time together.)

But it didn't occur to me that I should try to turn the director against the producer. I would never think to ruin someone else's career (Don't work with her, she's a difficult director who fights with producers!) just to forward my Broadway career. (especially when I was expecting exposure more than forwarding my show biz career....)

If they had gone with my plan of saying "not right for the part" - they could have illuminated how auditions work, and get to play some of my (funnier) sound bites for their show. (Instead they just showed my face in the "montage of people who also auditioned" - but they never broadcast my jokes/song.) Again producers try unsuccessfully to manipulate me, as if they hadn't learned that I don't screw people to get ahead.

So You Think You Can Dance

They did show 2 mins of my audition - out of context and badly edited to make me look like a loser to Nigel's calm. (That's so not what happened.)

Nigel asked me to take off my mask. I said "No, because you didn't ask nice enough."

At the time, I thought Nigel was deliberately being a jerk and asking what he knew was inappropriate. (Because he knew I was a fighter, if he gave me a reason.)

Looking back, I think Nigel might have become just crazy enough to forget that the mask was a joke, and that just because he sat behind the auditioning table, that doesn't give him power to ask anything he wants of auditionees. (So maybe we could have philosophized about "appropriate boundaries" for auditions - but that would NOT be intersting TV - and I doubt that anything I said would have changed his mind anyway.)

He could have went along with the statement I was trying to make (and get to air some funny sound bites I provided.) But he wanted to puppet me into a moral dilemma - and that didn't work out. (Mostly because there was no moral dilemma to be had....)


So for "Idol", it was a mess of serious-vs-silly. For "You're the one that we want" - it was turn-director-against-producer.For "SYTYCD" - it was remove-your- mask-and-give-up-individuality-to-conform-to-society-pressure.

I could have contributed fun TV to their shows, if they had facilitated my vision/contribution. Instead, they wanted to subvert my vision, and instead of producing fun TV, they wasted talent.

My hope for AGT is that their producers will be honest and try to facilitate what I would like to do. (I hope to have an honest conversation: "I am just doing serious for the cattle-call round of 2017, becuase 2016 failed. But for 2017, my preference is to mix silly and serious, like I did for 2016.")

For my part, I'll be more vigilant about "hints" about what they want me to do. (I get that they can't TELL talent what they must do, because that'd be unfair to other contestants.)

But I doubt I can predict their crazy or react like they'd expect. My hope is that if they decide to try to pull my puppet strings, they expect me to react with integrity. (On "Idol" they manipulated the situation so Carrie Underwood could show she was a good-person when confronted with non-good-living situations.) Mostly, I would like producers to work with me to facilitate my message, instead of trying to "beat me" and present me as something I am not. I'd just like a chance to share my talents, and frame my presentation to make the statement I intend.

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