I Went to a High School Talent Show

This past week I watched the engaging and disturbing docuseries Quiet on The Set, about the awful and in some cases, criminal exploitation and abuse that went on during the Golden Age of Nickelodeon (as I said on this week’s legendary episode of Rain on Your Parade podcast – at 11 years old I was enjoying In Living Color, so I am not sure how children could enjoy the offerings of Nickelodeon, but alas, this was mere foreshadowing of the comedy stupidity that would come to define present day society).  So after watching all four episodes, I thought, “what better place for an unmarried, childless, struggling entertainer to go to than a local high school talent show?!”

Full Hassan Minhaj disclosure – my girlfriend’s nephew was in a rock band participating in the talent show, so it is not as funny or creepy as my set up would have you think.

The show took place at the Glen Ridge elementary school.  Despite the wealth of Glen Ridge, apparently their high school does not have a large auditorium on its campus proper and uses the elementary school across the street (this is particularly galling when you consider that A THE graduate of Glen Ridge High School is the GOAT, Tom Cruise.  The only other factoid I know about Glen Ridge High School is that in the late 1980s a group of Glen Ridge jocks sexually abused a developmentally disabled girl (the first book I read, for pleasure, so to speak, in college was Our Guys – an absolutely tremendous book about that shocking case, which forever imprinted Glen Ridge in my mind in a way that even Tom Cruise could not undo with 40 movies and many more thetans).  So, with that on my mind I went to see the talent of Glen Ridge High!

Piranha performing under a sign that I thought about cropping to make for a controversial social media story.

I will not disparage any of the acts, which other than a dance troupe and a gymnast, were all musical.  I was largely impressed with the talent, and when not impressed with the talent, the courage to be mediocre in front of kids and parents.  My girlfriend’s nephew is only in 8th grade, but played drums in a very competent rock band named Piranha. I would have awarded them 3rd place, but they did not place at all.  Their music evokes Green Day and I was particularly amused by their bass player, who seemed furthest along in his rock identity and enthusiasm (a sort of Flea energy with Buddy Holly look… glasses, he wore glasses).

First place is where the judges and I agreed.  I am assuming the girl was a junior or senior and performed really well at the piano, even doing a non-cliche version of Feeling Good, a song that I have grown to hate due to its overexposure in commercials, singing contest shows and Michael Buble.  She seemed to have the talent and poise of someone who has ambitions and parents willing to fund them.

Second place went to a duet that was good (both were good, but one of the singers might have won first if she was solo – a voice of incredibly clarity and tone and other things that might make me sound like I know what I am talking about).  But here is where I had a big beef with the judges.  There was a small child – I do not know if he was an elementary school kid allowed to compete in the high school show, or if he is just a sort of Gary Coleman-Webster type kid because when I told him after the show that he was great I was alarmed at how small and young he seemed.  Well what he did was perform Piano Man on the piano, with a harmonica in his mouth. His harmonica looked like orthodontist head gear because of his age and size and he was great.  I kept thinking, I cannot do either of those things and he is pulling it off well, and had the savvy to pick a song right in the wheel house of the 40 something judges (I am only saying that to make me and my girlfriend feel better – we were probably older than at least two and possibly all 4 of the staff/teacher-judges.

After the show I felt myself projecting my own indignity and frustration on him, but the kid seemed very happy to talk to his friend and take compliments from giant strangers.

Third place went to a good singer who I had disqualified because she sang the song Never Enough from The Greatest Showman, a song so schmaltzy that the only thing that could ruin it more was having videos released of corrupt New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez singing it to his accomplice then-fiancée as he proposed to her.  I, in fact, have had enough *drops mic*.

So that was my night at the Glen Ridge Talent Show – and on an unexpected positive note – almost all the kids (and parents) were off their phones!  Perhaps that is the key to keeping the youth off screens: make everything about them and their friends.

  • Warrene Williams

    Much as I enjoy your videos, I think you should visit more talent events and write about them. This was hilarious but it could have been longer! Pitch a book deal! I’d buy it.

    1. J-L Cauvin

      Glad you liked it! I do review books, movies, concerts and other things in the course of my blog, videos and podcast so hopefully you will follow those – cannot promise too many youth talent shows though 8)

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