In the politically embedded television series, Boston Legal, the crotchety Judge Robert Sanders, played by Shelley Berman, was quite reverent for yelling out in courtroom settings, “Oh, poppycock!” What a statement! He could say the obvious without being crude or vulgar and he certainly made his point in predictably glib dramatic moments by behaving badly.
For the first time last night I witnessed Prince Poppycock perform on America’s Got Talent. Dressed to the nines, delivering the classic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Prince Poppycock was in his blue period and gave a dashing performance. The stage was brilliantly designed in blue and white windsoresque. His costume design, mime-styled blue lipstick , powder wig and heavily powdered makeup all screamed drama queen! Now whether he is a queen or not, I really don’t care. He puts Adam Lambert to shame as a consummate professional speaking to his audience for a specific purpose.
Prince Poppycock received a standing ovation from the audience and judges for his bravado. So striking in the delivery of every single detail, it was a sight to behold. That’s what great performance is about. The sort of thing that makes the audience perhaps a bit uncomfortable, but so breathtaking at the same time, one simply cannot stop watching. His pedestrian appearance is the antithesis of his stage persona. Quite simply he makes a statement. And he is speaking to the audience he’s been asked to address: Those who will come to Las Vegas shows.
Years ago, the same sort of reaction was emitted by the new singer, kd lang when she first appeared on television totally absent of any embellishment. Stark short hair, sans makeup, and barefoot if I remember correctly. Her voice was the only accessory necessary…and what a voice it is! She is a fabulous performer and took a risk to be like no one else. She did not want anything but her voice to capture attention, because she obviously knew she was that good.
Many, many years before that when there were only three network channels in black and white, Liberace was a very popular entertainer. Eccentric beyond anything most people could imagine at the time, he struck a resounding chord in brilliant performances. The reason: He was unforgettable. His talent was unquestionable, but as a solo pianist, he could not blend in with the rest of those soloists who appeared traditionally in tails with a bow tie. So he took his stage presence to the opposite extreme and yes, oh yes, he was outstanding in his field.
The search for truly amazing talent is so strong, people are looking for it everywhere. The masses want to be entertained. They want to be levitated above reality, for it’s a certainty reality really sucks right now.
Over different eras, the trend in attracting an audience went to the demographic it was intended for. The Beatles, though heavily entrenched in peace and love, took things to a level that was unmatched as far as appearances go. Nirvana addressed teens who shopped in thrift stores in the area where they lived. The most relevant industry in the region Cobain was from dressed in durable flannels and jeans for warmth and protection. The timber industry and sawmill environment in western Washington had a distinctly grungy look.
The bottom line is this: If you want to be noticed stand out! You simply cannot blend in with your contemporaries that are pierced and tattooed, dressed in T-shirts, jeans and sneakers. Those who are truly creative will set the stage for their careers that allow them to be noticed. Whatever it is that will allow you to be outstanding in your field is what you must seek out. Great music will always sell itself, but a well-designed performance will sell more than the music.