I’ve been thinking of all these talent shows on the air these days.

Of course it all started with American Idol. Then there was The Voice. Then America’s Got Talent, and now there’s X Factor.

It’s a really good gig, if you think about it.

But not for the participants!

One of the things I do when I’m watching a show like this, is that I ask myself, “What is entertaining me?”

That is, “What is appealing in what I’m watching? And why am I watching it?”

I’ve only watched two full seasons of American Idol–from auditions to finish, and two seasons of America’s Got Talent.

I watched the season when David Cook won and then the recent one where Scotty Mccreery won.

And for America’s Got Talent, I watched the season that Terry Fator won and the most recent one when that Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. guy won.

And I’ve come to a conclusion.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who wins. Winning doesn’t ensure success.

Just look at American Idol. Only two of their alumni have gone on to be big stars: Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

It’s too soon to say for Scotty Mccreery but David Cook has been a big disappointment!  One hit wonder.

I have a different theory for Terry Fator.

He comes from the trenches!

I know how he feels to be in a venue way at the back of a fair and almost get heat stroke!

When you’re that *hungry* you don’t take a chance at the brass ring for granted.

The reason that Fator is successful is because he *worked* for it, and continues to *work* for it.

But you don’t really see that with so many of the other contestants.

I was watching X Factor last night and they showed them partying up a storm, and as I was watching them tossing back drinks, I just thought, “You silly fools!”

Now’s not the time to celebrate!

Now’s the time to get some rest so you’ll be fresh tomorrow!

And then you see some of the ones that had been partying hardest collapse when they get eliminated. One guy was shouting, “I have no life! I have no life!” And I thought, “Yes you do!” This is NOT the end of the world!

But I feel sorry for the children!

Eleven and thirteen year olds should not have to build a career at that age! Time enough for the dog eat dog world that is the entertainment business!

As for the ones that were partying. They don’t get it.

This is work.

When I write a story it’s not about any kind of lifestyle I’m trying to achieve!

It’s not about fame or fortune!

Some of my best work has been completely ignored!

It’s about the work! It’s about pushing myself and my artistic expression, to write something amazing!

Getting back to the talent shows, I think that part of the fascination of them is the fact that the economy is so lousy.

Susan Boyle would not have been so successful if she hadn’t been lampooned by the video guys before she walked out on stage. Did you hear the frumpy music they were playing while they filmed her stuffing a donut in her mouth, talking to the interviewers and then walking out on to the stage?

It was a build up of sorts, but as it turned out, a red herring.

And when she opened her mouth and blew them all away, it wasn’t just the beauty of her voice that made the impact. It was the whole scenario.

And her song choice. “I dreamed a dream…” From Les Miserables couldn’t have been better suited!

When did this happen? At the height of uncertainty in 2009 after all the bankruptcies and people were losing their shirts.

Why did people react so much to her?

I asked myself that very question even as I watched her on youtube a number of times.

It wasn’t just her voice!

After seeing so many talent shows one thing I’ve realized is that there are a LOT of very good singers out there. And Susan Boyle is NOT that exceptional.

It was because she was ridiculed and we’ve all felt that way at times. But she rose above it. She exceeded expectations and in the process she gave HOPE!

Hope at a time there was none.

And perhaps many who were watching her, thought if she could so defy expectations, then perhaps they could too.

In fact I’d dare say that the power of that narrative was so great, she’s still riding its after effect.

Saw her on Oprah, and she sang some song I can’t even remember the title of, standing there her hair all coiffed, strapped into a dark evening gown, looking like a stuffed sausage. She seemed to be girdled so tight, she couldn’t even move in that silly dry ice fog they had floating around her.

Very little of the dowdy (but charming) lady that first took my breath away was left! She is now just another singer.

So what is the success of these shows?

It’s profiting off the raw talent of the hopefuls!

David Cook did his best work ON THE WAY to winning American Idol. His rendition of Eleanor Rigby took one of the weirdest songs the Beatles had ever written, and gave it meaning. I mean what the heck does ‘keeping her face in a jar by the door’ even mean???

Susan Boyle gave her best performance AUDITIONING for Britain’s Got Talent!

Same with David Archuletta, who’s another flop finalist.

Once the competition was gone, these artists couldn’t construct a new story vehicle so they could rise higher. And that’s too bad.

And then there’s Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. who just won this year’s America’s Got Talent. And he beat two top notch, world class dance troupes to do it too!


Because of his back story!

He was a poor black man singing Sinatra style! Used to wash cars for a living, but had been homeless at one point.

Could you have asked for a better rags to riches story???

I have to admit that at first I was not rooting for him.

I thought the dance troupes of Luminato or Silhouettes would win, but in the final show when the dance troupes trotted out the same old same old, Landau performed a coup by singing Sinatra’s My Way. Of course it helped that he killed it!

Knowing what we knew of his story, was it any wonder that he surged to victory? And again, at a time when the economy is mired in hopeless recession???

He even brought a few tears to my eyes, and after he finished singing it, I thought, “Yes, I do hope he wins.”


And I have high hopes that he will not disappoint, because he’s probably even hungrier for success than Terry Fator!

And he’d better be hungry for it. He’d better work hard because he’s only got one further chance to impress.

Talent just doesn’t seem to be enough any more.

And that’s actually the main reason why I won’t be auditioning for Canada’s Got Talent.

I don’t want to give away my ‘talent’ (such as it is) for free!

But of course I also don’t believe that a storyteller/stand up comedian can really win in a competition of this sort.

You’ve only got ninety seconds, and it takes a LOT longer to construct a really funny narrative on a stage in front of a live audience!

These talent shows are ideally suited to singers! 

Like ventriloquist singers and Sinatra stylists, who are hungry and have absolutely nothing to lose!