America's Got Talent

So, I don't usually watch "America's Got Talent," because UGH Piers Morgan, and UGH Howie Mandel, and UGH the exploitation of nice people blissfully lost in their delusions of grandeur, but I happened to see part of it last night, when I was introduced to a soft-spoken and baby-faced 32-year-old store clerk named John from Virginia (pictured at right).

He explained: "I've had a lot of day jobs to pay the bills, but what I really want to do is to be a singer. I've been singing my entire life, ever since I can remember, but I'm not from a musical family; my parents really didn't know what to do with me. When I sing, I'm definitely able to forget about my troubles, my day-to-day struggles. If I could be able to sing for a living, and quit my day jobs, it would be a dream come true."

Oh, Maude. He was so sweet, and so charming, and so earnest, and I desperately wanted him to be good. Even this shitty show couldn't set up a guy so seemingly decent and gentle for humiliation, right?

When John walked onstage, to the sound of a scratching record, he had transformed into Prince Poppycock, "the prince of a fantastical realm," clad in 18th-century French court dress and kabuki-drag make-up, to perform "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville. I held my breath.

The audience went wild. Sharon Osborne gave him a standing ovation. At home, I cheered for him. Howie Mandel, ever the helpful bozo, told him, "This is a show about finding great talent—and THAT was talent!"

I'm sure that people who are experts in such things are already aching to point out the flaws in his performance, but I don't particularly care that it wasn't perfect. It gave me chills and made me smile. I hope John feels like he is a singer today.

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