America's Got Talent seems to exist because it plays on people's dreams that someday, something will snatch them out of obscurity and give them the attention they've always wanted for their talents. Most people have no idea what that actually entails--they just have this vague idea that being famous for their talents is desirable and means lots of money (neither of which is actually necessarily true).
Without people's dreams, and the idea that it might be them on TV next year, the show would fall flat. So a huge part of what they do is open the door to let anyone come in and audition--and make sure that everyone knows they are welcome to come wait in line and take a shot at escaping their mundane (or downright miserable) life to whatever dream they have of fame and fortune. So they show lots of shots of Middle America waiting in line, and talk a lot about who they discovered at what open audition.
What they don't mention is that they also actively seek out and invite people to audition for the show--perhaps thousands. What they also don't mention is that many of the people who make it onto TV and then through to the next rounds are already professional performers who have "paid their dues" (been working their acts publicly on stage for 10 years or more). Many of the acts we see on TV are people Tim knows from Vegas, where they've been performing on the Strip successfully for many years. At least one winner had been working with an agent who does Talent Development for many years before he hit America's Got Talent (I know that because it was the agent moosebutter was working with for a while).
And many of these people--the already-semi-famous and the invited-to-audition--don't stand in line all day and wait. They don't sing with 10 other people in the room. They get a special scheduled private audition time.
The statistics I know they keep that I wish I had are how many people get on TV who come from the cattle call audition, and how many were of the other categories--the professionals who just haven't broken from the regional into the national market. I am so curious--how many people who get through to the final rounds were invited to audition? How many have already performed in Vegas? How many have over 10 years of experience? I'm thinking the answers would be close to 100% on all questions, but I don't know. All I do know is that most of the people who make it into the later rounds handle both the microphone and the stage in a way that says, "Lots of experience."
In other words, I'm not sure the average American Dreamer has any chance at all. I've begun to wonder if that's all just part of the show--a really fancy marketing device, rather than a real, legit audition. I mean, if they're selling dreams, they have to let people dream to sell the product, right?
Nobody's ever going to show me those numbers, though.
I just wish I could see them.