There was an open call audition for THE Apollo Theater’s “amateur night” Sunday morning in Harlem, doors open 10 am. The first 300 acts were to be seen for auditions. MOST comedians wouldn’t see the point of auditioning for Apollo but I’m not here to think like MOST comedians. I knew I wanted to go from the time I found out about it. My friend, Talibah (shout out to Tatalicious) and I had planned for us to go together. After she informed me that she will no longer be able to go, this and for many other reasons that Saturday night before the auditions I was apprehensive to be brave enough and go to the audition.
Now! I had already committed to a performance at a comedy show the same Sunday afternoon in Jersey for 4 pm. So in order to successfully get through the audition and get to the performance on time I needed to be at the audition bright and as early as possible! It was getting late… Hours of sleep slowly counting down. Before I laid my head to sleep, I set my alarm to wake up early in the morning but not so early, hence the apprehension, and based on how I felt I would make my decision on the morning.
Morning comes and I wake up DETERMINED more than ever to make this audition! Where did this determination come from? Shaking My Head thinking to myself, “I wish I felt this way last night!” Being that it was morning time I was still a slug, so it was a late start but I didn’t let that deter me from getting to Harlem. Out the door on a mission I go straight to the BUS STOP (its a recession)…. It takes FOREVER to come! I have no cash for a cab and all I keep telling myself is, “Im not going to make it, I should’ve left earlier”. The bus finally comes TWENTY minutes later and I hop on ready to start my journey from Brooklyn to Harlem.
Now the plan was to read “Eat Pray Love” on the way and possibly start writing a script for class but just like every person on the subway I ended up sleeping the entire travel(don’t try this at home). I finally arrived to 125th street two hours later and was relieved to have been a little rested from the nap. I was ready to tackle this audition line. But FIRST I needed food and a vanilla latte with soy, hold the foam please and thank you. So I stopped at Starbucks and while I’m at it I thought it would be who of me to figure out which direction the Apollo Theatre was in. The cashier tells me and explains how people were lined up from 10 pm the night before! Wow! Just imagine if I did have the determination the night before, I would have been in line as well.
Anywho I leave and head to the Apollo Theatre and arrive there at 8:15 am. The line reaches back to the first corner. I make a right. The line reaches to the second corner. I make another right. The line reaches two more blocks and finally comes to an end. I have found my place in line still uncertain as to what I have gotten myself into but determined to stay as long as I possibly can. I look around for friendly faces. I see a black female with an afro. No. What about the hispanic guy with the headphones on…? NO. Okay…! Well there’s a white couple hugged up to keep warm (sidenote: I thought white people didn’t get cold!) but No. It wasn’t until an Asian woman then a black mother with her daughter arrived after me that it seemed okay to strike a few questions and friendly conversation.
We get the talking and we all agreed that we definitely will make the first 300 acts however the woman said her friend auditioned last year and was here for 8 hours. I grew worried because I didn’t have 8 hours but I didn’t let it defeat me. The wait was LONG!!!! Corner after corner I was freezing myself off! I needed gloves, a scarf, hat , and a winter coat!!! Instead I had on some destroyed jeans(aka open slits for wind exposure), a long sleeve shirt, a vest, and my cute little leather jacket:-/ I don’t what I was thinking! Wait. Yes I do… I was thinking “girl you better look cute for this audition and you never know who you may meet (the single mentality in me).
Finally I approached the last corner to see the actual Apollo theatre sign and it feels good! Took a few pics and thought about what this experience has been already and what it could turn out to be. I get to know a few people in line who all agreed that I looked like a singer:-) That made me feel good. Honestly the “look” of a comic isn’t the best compliment so I’ll take the singer look any day! (That’s messed up)
The people in line were fun and interesting! Did I say it was cold?! Anyway there were middle school aged steppers providing entertainment. High school emcees beat boxing being silly, an elderly church going woman clapping to the beats of her gospel playing in her head and then there were the conversations(uh oh)… The Asian lady explains to me how she’s been in New York for seven years working as a bartender intending on pursuing her dreams as a singer however was swallowed by the amount of responsibilities when she agreed to become bar manager. She has two kids who she recently released custody over to her husband in Japan so she can pursue her passion! It’s real out here yall, her story was so ridiculously inspiring, I will NEVER EVER have kids! Lol I spoke with people from all over New York and few people who travelled from out of town, exchanged a few business cards… this was great!
We finally reached the barricades closest to the Apollo Theater’s entrance and I could smell a victory or at least the heat of a warm building…. Then a group of six individuals squeezed themselves in the front. PAUSE. Were they suppose to be discreet? Four adults, a child and a young teen thought it was okay to jump the line because their “friend” were holding spaces. What was even more surprising was that no one in line said anything. The first security guard approached the situation and asked what was going on but then naively accepted their response, “Were with her”. PAUSE again. You can’t be with her if you are a different act! I took a deep breathe…. held my head in the air to feel the cold breeze against my nostrils and reflected on what a day it was… then I smiled, aimed one hand in the air and yelled….. SECURITY!!!!!!!! Im just saying what would Eddie Murphy do?! A different security guard approached me and heard my testify…. still no one else spoke up! I had to turn around and literally almost bully the others behind for them to speak up. A shame. Finally the 6 people were escorted out the line(VICTORY) and my pressure was up! BUT I didn’t let that defeat me, I finally went inside (said a woosaw), received my number, and entered the stadium of the Apollo Theatre. I was number 239!!!! that means I was 61 people short of the cut off. But I made it!
I spent two more hours waiting in the stadium; thats all I had left on my clock before I was due to head to Jersey for a performance… BUT It was LIVE!!! hundreds of people! Sounds of singers warming up, emcees busting flows, and dancers loosening their muscles to music from their ipods. Great atmosphere of passion and dedication. I didn’t want to leave!!! Even though I felt disappointment for not being able to stay and audition I had a commitment. My mother taught me, “YOUR WORD IS YOUR BOND”. You are only as good as your word. Its a law of ethics, a value that cannot be compensated for. So I bid a silent farewell to Apollo and headed for my show.
I learned a lot Sunday. After I thought about everything I realized what I was missing. I was missing the 100% EFFORT! The determination was there but not 100%. The ability was there but not 100%.
Im learning…. this is a journey for me. A lot of times I notice we go through the walks of life but miss out on the most of it because of the way we think…. Sunday I allowed myself and other’s apprehension to effect my efforts. Im pleased to have gone and gotten so far and was able to experience the cake (the story) but unfortunately I missed out on the icing (the audition). So don’t limit yourself and prohibit you from receiving that “icing on the cake”. Thats why I say GO HARD or GO HOME! I know what to expect next time….. 100%
In simple words: Claim your icing on the cake!
Much love and wreckless living,
please note: this would have been that much great if I was sitting in a bubble bath with soap bubbles in between my toes. See! I need to claim my icing….Next Time! follow me on twitter @aminahimani