In the lead up before the audition, Nick follows the prospective talent around in his sad-sack daily life. It is the type of sad, sappy personal story that is heart-breaking, hear-rendering and really good for TV.
The prospective talent, semi-disabled, was thrown out of his home at age 18.
“You seem like a nice guy,” says Nick, following the prospective talent as he hobbles down a back alley heading toward the homeless shelter. “Why did your parents throw you out of the house?”
There is swirling, string-based emotive music playing in the background.
The prospective talent says: “I was obsessed from an early age. When I was four, all I could do was play in the sandbox and construct cities. I couldn’t stop playing with my blocks as a kid. I had to finish the job on time.”
“But your parents had a problem with that?” Nick asks, with a concerned smile.
“At first they were very happy to see how interested I was in building. You know, most four year olds are into sippy cups and Sesame Street, not multi-span cable-stayed bridge models.”
“So you were a prodigy,” says Nick.
They arrive at the end of the alley and the prospective candidate assumes his place on the food line.
“Yes, but after a while, things went down hill. I didn’t want to talk to my friends. I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to participate in personal grooming habits. I just wanted to design bridges.”
“That’s your dream,” says Nick.
Now we’re backstage at the audition. The prospective talent and Nick are just behind the curtains. Out in the audience, a thousand representatives of America are waiting to be amused, awed and entertained. The judges have been particularly snaky tonight.
Nick says, “You’ve been waiting your whole life for this moment. You’ve been obsessed, you’ve struggled, you’ve lost everything as you relentlessly pursued your goal. But you stuck with it. It all comes down to this.”
The prospective talent says, “I’m ready. I can do this.”
Nick pats the man on the shoulder. “Good luck. We’re rooting for you. Go get ‘em”.
The prospective talent smiles and limps out onto the main stage and assumes his place at the microphone. Stunned and quiet at first, the audience soon erupts into a loud, sustained cheer.
Howard, one of the judges, says: “Welcome to America’s Got Talent. What do you do?”
The prospective talent says, “I’m a bridge designer.”
Howard says: “I see. And what are you going to show us tonight?”
“I’m going to design a bridge,” says the prospective talent.
“I see,” says the other Howard. “You are going to design a bridge. The process of bridge design is long, intricate, procedural and sort of dull. At the end of the design and construction, a miracle occurs when before there was nothing and now there is a bridge. But to get to that point, we all have to sit through years of nit-pickery and engineering/construction bullshiteeze.”
The first Howard says, “You bring up a good point, Howard” (referring to the second Howard). On this show, we usually present minute-long sappy tragic story arcs of redemption where hapless candidates audition in front of our brutal audience. The people want to see sword-swallowing. They want to see ball busting. They want to see farting.”
The second Howard interrupts: “Howard, I am sorry to interrupt. But you can’t see farting. You can only hear farting.”
“You bring up another good point, Howard,” says the first Howard. “So, bridge designer, what makes you think that America with its short attention span and low threshold for contemplation is interested in experiencing the tedious process and drawn out intellectual pursuit that ultimately results in the near-divine grandeur of creation of a bridge?”
“I don’t know,” says the prospective talent. “But I have a feeling tonight will be different.”
“OK,” says the first Howard. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”