how about a community talent show this summer?

Hanging out with some friends last night, the idea of a community talent show came up. We were all in agreement that it would be worth doing, and most of us, after giving it a few minutes of thought, were able to offer up ideas as to what we could do. I said that I could write a short, 5-minute play with my family. (I’d like to do a really heavy dramatic scene.) Another friend said that he could perform a few songs with his wife and daughter. (They’ve only practiced once, but they recently formed a band called Animal Magic.) Another friend said that she could make an outfit for her dog and teach it to do a trick or two. As long as no one took it too seriously, I think it could be really good – especially if we were able to get older folks and kids involved… I wonder if the Dreamland Theater has plans for the weekend of Heritage Festival yet. If not, maybe we could shoot for then.

Just imagine how cool something like this could be here, in Ypsi:

Or, better yet:

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  1. Posted January 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Don’t do this to your daughter. Steve and I were just talking today about how I was permanently scarred by mother forcing me and several other children to dance on stage in tulip costumes in front of the whole village. (The following year, my mother sang a love song with another man, and I was sure she and my father were going to split up.)

  2. Brackache
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    The Richard Pryor / John Candy love child in the first video is really inspiring, apparently.

    I can make fart noises with my hands pretty good. That’s about it.

  3. ol' e cross
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Don’t listen to Hillary. My family and I been practicing for something like this and all the kids love it. Love it godammit.

    (You do know that there’s already a kids talent show at every heritage festival right? I’m assuming that’s where you got your inspiration?)

  4. Dirtgrain
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I’m in. Are the standards about the same as Karaoke night at the bar?

  5. mark
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been to the kids talent show during Heritage Fest, but, now that you mention it, OEC, I do recall that there is one… The difference, I guess, would be that this one wouldn’t be full of people who aspired to be on American Idol, as I figure that one is. I guess it would be difficult to police something like that, though. Our goal, I think, would be to have fun more than showcase technical ability.

    And thanks for the word of warning, Hillary. I just made a note to myself not to sing romantic duets with anyone other that Linette.

  6. mark
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know what happened to Gene Gene the Dancing Machine? Is he still with us, or has he moved on to the Gong Show in the Sky?

  7. Mark H.
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Mark, is talent as a performer going to be a requirement for the talent show you envision? If not, i could recite the names of the 44 American presidents, in order. A sure fire crowd pleaser!

  8. Dirtgrain
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I double-dog dare you.

  9. Julesabu
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Baaaaa da duh duh duh! Man, I loved me some Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.

  10. mark
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes, reciting all the Presidents would qualify, as would addressing the crowd as Elenore Roosevelt.

    And according to this website Gene Gene is still around, although he lost both of his legs to diabetes in 2001. Apparently he also had a cameo in the film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

  11. John D.
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    The Ypsilanti Heritage Festival Children’s Talent Contest is more of a show and less of a contest. This is due to the fact that all of the participants are compensated for their performances. It’s a nice, little, low key affair that usually takes about two hours and involves about thirty participants. Started in 1982, it has always been a crowd-pleaser and full of surprises. An adult event is not a bad idea and could be fun, even offer ‘token’ prizes. Organizing such an event would be a bit of work for someone to bring it all together, a major time commitment required to organize. WCC did a ‘students’ talent show recently, and it was quite successful.

  12. cross ole
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I can’t believe Mark Maynard just called all of our delightful kids “American Idol” wannabees. What an asshole.

  13. mark
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Yup. I’m a huge asshole. And I hate kids.

    I’ll stand by my comment, though. I’ve been to some talent shows and they can be excruciating. And, generally, as best as I can figure it, they suck because the people participating are trying to be “good,” which for them means sounding like someone that they’ve heard on the radio or tv. Maybe it’s impossible to guard against that, but I’d like to see people being silly and creative…. And, like I said, I’ve never been to the Heritage Fest talent show. Maybe it’s different. I’m inclined to think, however, that it’s not.

  14. ol' e cross
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Cross ole. I have to agree, Mark can be a bit assholy. But, I do like the idea of a showcase for Ypsi folk. And, I appreciate John D.’s comments a lot. I’ve enjoyed the kids shows a-many, but one issue (as a spectator) is the amount of time it takes between sets (to switch sound tracts and such). It’s cute and good with kids, but with parents potential needs for fancy electronics … it could get messy.

    How about an open mic/karaoke style thing that would be one location, all festival, where anybody could come up and perform? One mic, nothing more? How about a karaoke/open mic stage? Folks could perform as long as they wanted if nobody was waiting, and if somebody was, they step off and get back in line. Heritage Festival open mic/karaoke. Heh? Any takers?

  15. Posted January 26, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    If the problem with the other show is people trying to be “good”, and you’re really trying to get people to be silly and creative, then calling it a “talent show” may not be the best idea.

  16. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    mark, this is far easier than either you believe or others have stated. You are way ahead of the game here because you have a vision of the show that is easily communicated. Invoking “The Gong Show” and talking about the performers not taking themselves seriously will help set its direction. A true variety/talent show is a beloved American pasttime and a perfect complement to our quirky little burg.

    You need only:

    1) A venue.
    2) Dates.
    3) A/V equipment (lights, sound, etc.)
    4) A host (me).

    You hold open auditions supplemented by your creative team’s recruiting. Here’s the cool part, because it’s not in an “open mic” format, you get to choose the show line-up. You control the spirit of the thing by casting it with an iron fist (yeah, great imagery). Hey, it’s your vision. Make of it what you will, but MAKE IT. Don’t just let it happen.

    I’ve done tons of performance-centered fundraisers for Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and they can be a real hoot for everybody without a ton of effort. You just need a strong leader (you) and some energetic performers.

  17. Robert
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I have absolutely no talent whatsoever, which is really quite rare and remarkable. To go through so much life as I have, and not develop a single demostratable talent is an accomplishment well beyond almost any actual talent I could have picked up. If there is a way I can go up on stage and prove it to an audience, I’d be happy to. It may be the only time any of those people would get the chance to actually see in person such an incredible oddity…a story they could tell their grandchildren.

  18. Paw
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    All you have to do is sit in a chair under a spotlight and start talking about black helicopters, Robert. Your paranoia is unparalleled.

  19. Dirtgrain
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    “. . . people would get the chance to actually see in person such an incredible oddity…a story they could tell their grandchildren.” Something freakish, like Benjamin Button. You could put Ypsilanti on the map.

  20. John D.
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Curt, you left out fund raising and publicity. All this stuff doesn’t come for free, you know.
    …and Mark, be wary of making to many assumptions about things that you know little of. To be safe, assume no-one knows anything.

  21. Mark H.
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I like Curt W’s snappy summary of what would be required to make this show of talent a go. A simple plan, and a will to execute it, and some publicity and marketing talent (which Ypsi’s one and only Mark Maynard has).

    I am unsure of what it might gain from being part of the Heritage Festival – whose crowd is largely very different folks that the Ypsi residents. Do it a week or two before the Festival, or some other time of the summer, a stand alone event, that would work better, I think. But others would know better than me.

    The point is for it to be a uniquely Ypsilanti kind of talent show – local flavor. Not a cookie cutter type event. Open to all ages for performers? Outdoors or indoors?

    And i think it has to be a produced show – that is, a set of performers, planned out and auditioned in advance; a show that starts at a certain time and ends a certain time later. An event with a start and an end — something that the whole audience that stays thru it experiences together, rather than a randomness of performances that are seen on a hit or miss basis over a period of days.

    My 2 cents. A lovely idea, Mark.

  22. mark
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I will add this to the list of projects.

    And I am, for the record, sorry about slagging on talent shows. I just don’t want to sit through a bunch of people pretending to be other people… There are, of course, exceptions, however – like in that video I included from Good Times. If it’s done in the right spirit, stuff like that can be brilliant.

    More to follow.


  23. Posted January 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Paw, now that you mention it, it does occur to me that I do have one talent I could perform at the show. It’s a magic trick. I can make an audience disappear.

    And don’t be so coy, Paw. It was only a few years ago that you people in Ypsilanti would have laughed at the suggestion that there is such a thing as a real Sasquatch. Now look, you have one blogging from right there in your town and living amongst you like any other regular person might.

  24. ol' e cross
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    And i think it has to be a produced show – that is, a set of performers, planned out and auditioned in advance; a show that starts at a certain time and ends a certain time later.

    With all due respect Mark H., that doesn’t sound like random chaos and random chaos is precisely what gives the Heritage Festival its enduring charm…

  25. Luke Bison
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Yaah. It’s better to audition. That way we’re guaranteed unbiased quality rather than whatever riffraff crawls up out of the gutter.

  26. Posted January 28, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Elenore? Not even the Turtles spelled it THAT way.

  27. Posted June 16, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Well if anyone wants to try out an act, Dreamland is now hosting a open mic once a month. Looks like every last Wednesday of the month. Check out for the schedule.

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