High on the list of ways to make a name for yourself is the phenomenon of ‘Talent’ Shows. Win or lose, well you don’t actually lose you just might not actually win; assuming there is a broadcasting element some degree of exposure is more or less guaranteed. Exposure can be a truly effective route to further employment.
One of the golden rules for anyone seeking a career in entertainment, in whatever department, is to try everything, jump at every opportunity that comes along. Like many others I never harboured any serious aspirations about winning, you can hope of course but for most people like me it’s all about getting exposure.
There can be a disappointing almost hidden side to talent competitions; it lies in what one perceives ‘talent’ to mean.
My own track record regarding talent competitions is something definitely well short of dazzling. (For another example see ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ elsewhere in this blog). This one was especially disappointing for reasons I’m about to describe.
The show’s organiser was one of the London based independent TV companies. They’d hired a very large room on the second floor of a huge building South of the river. My equipment was pretty much along the same lines as the stuff I use now only being a few years back, a lot heavier. Around the back of this building was a giant single gate opening onto a yard with a couple of loading bays for the building. The lift was a short distance away inside the building. Being on my own, it took me a few trips to get first to the lift, then into it with all the gear and then up to the performance area.
Across the middle of the room where the auditions were to take place a row of chairs had been placed for the judges. All the other acts needed very little space, look-alikes, novelty acts, singers and so on performing mainly over cassette tapes. To save any time-wasting I set up in advance behind the row of judges’ chairs so they had only to turn around to do their judging when my turn came.
For my audition I performed a rock version of Dion’s ‘King of the New York Streets’, which I thought went fairly well as it attracted plenty of applause from both fellow competitors and judges.
‘I’m in,’ I thought.
A mistake I’ve made in the past (some people never learn) was in failing to look carefully enough into the kind of act they might be seeking to include. Not surprisingly, only the winner of each heat would end up appearing in the televised final.
Reversing my route in with the hernia inducing equipment, I made three trips back down to the van. I had then only to get home and await the result. I’d seen all the other acts that had performed before I did and drove home in a fairly optimistic mood, thinking I must have been in with a reasonable chance.
After devoting the day (I had a day job at that time), petrol, lunch and so on, as well as giving what I thought was at worst a reasonably mistake-free performance, I did not succeed. Everyone involved of course has to devote this time and effort, it’s just a bummer to discover that it was really a waste of time to start off with.
The winner of this heat of the “Talent” competition was an elderly gent, stripped down to a purple vest. He had a largely bald head barring strips of white hair at the sides, and his act was beating his head with a tea tray in time to a recording of ‘She’ll Be Coming ‘round The Mountain’.
On reflection, maybe ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ doesn’t seem so bad after all…