America may not have a functional government, a decent public transportation system, or a healthy collective BMI. But one thing we do have is talent in spades. And America's Got Talent will be looking for their latest and greatest in Miami on October 26 and 27.
Unlike lots of talent-based shows, for this gig, there's room for whatever bizarre skill set you happen to have. They're looking for anything and everything. And to prep you for your turn on stage, we spoke to executive producer Jason Raff on what to do, what not to do, and why a dude breakdancing in an inflatable cow costume was a win.
The stakes are high, people. You could score reality TV fame and fortune -- $1 million to be exact. Everyone from singers and dancers to comedians and contortionists have impressed audiences, so there's room for all kinds of crazy.
If you're looking for your 15 minutes of fame, pay attention to Raff's tips and get yourself ready to take the stage next week.
5. Look 'em in the eye.
Here, personality counts. So bring the energy and face your judges.
"When you're auditioning, in the same way as going for a job interview, how you present yourself and your personality is a big deal," Raff says. "A lot of people can sing or dance but how you talk to us, how you present yourself ... are you looking at us? Are you showing whatever energy you have? It's part of that star quality."
4. It's a less intimidating audition environment than most shows.
"We try to respect the fact that people may never have auditioned for anything in their life. We try to make sure they have a decent time. We're not scary!" he laughs.
Plus, he describes the entire audition environment as a laugh riot. "It's like the weirdest waiting room you've ever seen -- it's not like being at the doctor's office, there are people rehearsing, dancing. It's fun!"
3. Don't be mediocre.
Even bad can be good, Raff says (aka the break dancing man in an inflatable cow costume). But mediocrity sucks.
"The worst thing is being kind of mediocre. That's the worst feeling ever, they're not bad, they're not good ... but when someone comes in and plays their teeth for me, that's a good audition."
2. Surprise the judges - let your freak flag fly.
On this show, the surprise factor is everything. So skip the boring, predictable crap. Raff mentions the uniqueness of ventriloquist Terry Fator, the backflipping Olate Dogs (hint: dog acts also do well, he says) and recent champ Kenichi Ebina, the first ever solo dancer to take home the top prize.
"The one thing that the winner always tends to have is that there's a surprise factor -- something surprising about what they do," Raff says. "That surprise goes a long way. There's nothing better than traveling around the country, you're exhausted, and someone comes in and starts singing a song and you get goosebumps. That's the best feeling ever!"
1. Just do it.
If you've got anything, any discernible talent, throw caution to the wind and get your ass on stage. "Our show is different than other shows because it's open to any talent," Raff says. "People should just come out and try! It's only going to take part of a day, and how often do you get to audition for a TV show? Yes, we're going to judge you but not in a mean way. If you can do something unusual with your body or if you have some little trick that only you can do -- after auditioning hundreds of thousands of people, nothing is more exciting to me than when someone comes into a room and does something you've never seen before.
The auditions kick off at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday, October 26th and 27th. You can just show up unannounced, but the judges recommend you register online ahead of time.