I do not know why I like the television show America’s Got Talent. Sometimes I picture myself on a stage doing what I love to do the most: entertaining people with mathematics. But it wouldn’t really work on the stage of America’s Got Talent. The audience makes its judgment in the first five seconds of a performance. There is no way I can teach a new math idea in five seconds.
Back to the show. I especially like the auditions. I noticed a strange correlation between what people say before their performance and what happens on the stage. In short, if a person brags that he/she has the greatest talent and that the judges will be blown away, the performance is likely to be pathetic.
My first thought was that the producers were editing it this way in order to boost the drama of the show. Now I wonder if it could be something else. Perhaps people who do not have much talent need to build up their confidence to appear on the show. And, vice versa, people who have talent can afford to be modest.
I didn’t see the same correlation when I watched Britain’s Got Talent. Could this tendency be a part of our American culture? After all, the message that confidence is all we need to succeed permeates the whole culture.
A pre-stage interview with one of the contestants on the show was especially telling. She said, “I could be the next greatest act in America, because I have the courage, the self-esteem, the confidence, the faith and hope and belief in myself.” Talent wasn’t mentioned at all.
Yesterday I had a nightmare. I was on the stage of America’s Got Talent and Piers Morgan, my favorite judge, was questioning me:
Piers: Do you have a talent people will pay for?
Me: Yes, I do.
Piers: What is it?
Me: I sing so badly people will pay me to stop.