Monday, February 9, 2015

AGT (America’s Got Talent) auditions…changes in Season 10

While attending the auditions to Season 10 today, I noticed a few changes to the process, so I figured I’d share them, and point out a few things a lot of people seem to miss. I’ve only been to the audition in Seattle (actually Tacoma), so these might not apply elsewhere.

1. During the paperwork phase, pens were provided freely, so everyone could focus on writing their info.

2. The exact questions on the form (in case you want to plan your answers) are:

a. Stage name or group name

b. Briefly describe your talent

c. Age or age range of your group members

d. Occupation

e. City of birth and residence

f. Title and artist of the song performing to at this audition

g. How long have you been doing your act and how did you learn it?

h. What is your dream?

i. What obstacles have you overcome in pursuing your act?

j. Talk about your biggest supporter?

k. Why is this talent important to you?

l. What other talents do you have?

m. Have you ever auditioned for this or any other talent competition reality show?

n. Please list any additional interesting information about you or your act that we should know.

3. Here’s the actual form. Note that the lines are fairly small, so if you want to make the producer’s life easier (more about that in a second), copy the questions to your favorite word processor, type in your answers, print and bring with you to the audition:


4. The audition start time was 8am, as opposed to 9am in 2012. I showed up at 6:45 and was no. 52 in line.

5. At least part of the time, The performers were not separated to singers and other, and the audition wasn’t 1:1 for everyone. I was part of a group of 6 that were brought in as a group, and stood in line against the wall, and called up by the producer one after the other to the center of the room to introduce ourselves and perform. I know some other folk who were seen 1:1, though.

6. It was made clear to us that decisions will not be done today, but later, and if we passed, we would get called or emailed within 3 weeks.

7. The 2012 process was a bit messy, but this time around things seemed very finely tuned. Putting aside the 75 minutes I came early, it went pretty smooth and I was done and out by 9:30.

I forgot to mention this last time, but at the audition, the performance is limited to 90 seconds, which isn’t a lot. This doesn’t include the introduction, and it’s not enforced too strictly (as in, the floor doesn’t drop at 91 seconds). However, I strongly advise rehearsing and timing your performance, and aim for 80 seconds to give yourself some buffer. If you end up slipping to 100 seconds, it won’t hurt, but you should risk out-staying your welcome and appear unprofessional.

Another tip I can offer for AGT is that the supply is HUGE. They literally need to screen thousands and thousands of people and thin it down to a few hundreds for each city with the celebrity judges. You might be a great musician or singer, but being good alone doesn’t come close to cutting it. That’s what the form is about…finding people with some sort of distinction. The production likes sad stories and stories of overcoming great difficulties in life (related to the performance or not). There’s also preference for other stand-out talent (weird looking, strange behavior etc). The producers need to give the celebrities the best, but also the worst…people they could make fun-of on national TV. You can’t just be a little out of tune to be among that group…we’re talking crazy hair-dos, weird hats, crazy behavior or voices, mentally-ill behavior patterns etc. Another thing they like is people who will evoke emotions with the viewers, so being cool, well-mannered and polite is not it. If you cry easily, look very nervous or afraid, frantic or super-excited, that’s a bit Boone for your chances. Another thing to keep in mind is that even those who do get to perform in front of the celebrity judges may not end up onscreen. A typical audition day for the judges is 10-12 hours, during which they see around 100 people, but only a fraction of those end up on the broadcast (typically about 15-20). Those who are shown are usually those who are known to have moved-on to the Vegas/NY day step, plus a few others and a handful of terrible/crazy/stupid acts.

Regarding the form and readability – the producers will use what you write to help them pick out the outstanding performers, so writing effectively and clearly is key. If you got a sloppy hand-writing, slow-down and write CLEARLY. You can also pre-print the info as I suggested above. If you write sloppily, the producers will most likely just move on to the next guy, so you’re basically screwing up your chances completely. This is THE place to write clearly.

For comedians, especially, I can offer the following advice:

· You’re performing in front of a single person, who may or may not be interactive. This is VERY detrimental for comedy, so prepare with a friend (to sit 10 feet away and look down at the desk). This could help you keep your balance and not lose yourself.

· The room doesn’t have a Mic, which is very unusual for us used to holding the Mic or using it as a prop. Practice without a Mic for this one.

· The pressure could make the best performers forget their setup, even if it’s only 90 seconds. Prepare a cheat-sheet. Some like to use the back of the hand, but whatever you prefer, as long as you have SOMETHING to back up your human memory.

· Making comedy work in 90 seconds is VERY tough. Many comedians only do 1 or 2 jokes in that timeframe, but keep in mind the producers don’t have the time or willpower to get invested in a story. Keep your jokes short and plentiful. Figure out a way to make them 15-20 seconds, if you can, so you can cram 6-7 jokes instead of 2.

· In addition to funny jokes, try to create some memorable character for yourself…something to stand out as a “personality” rather than another set of jokes.

· Keep in mind that you’re auditioning for a family-friendly show, so make sure your material is clean enough for national TV. That usually means less funny, but these are the rules of TV.

Good luck!

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