With the rise of the phenomenon that is American Idol, millions of Americans out there seem willing to stand in front of a panel of judges with the fear of being shot down in flames. But during the auditions for the pilot of a new reality TV show called Chance of a Laugh Time last Saturday, Sep. 22, at Santa Barbara’s Victoria Hall, there was certainly plenty of talent and no flames to be seen. The auditions were held to provide talent for Unity Shoppe’s annual December 15 telethon. “Because we switched the broadcasting from KEYT to Cox Communications Channel 8, we really needed a way of bringing the public’s attention to our new station,” said Unity Shoppe Executive Director Thomas Reed. “This is our brand new concept on how to do that.”
The auditions were judged by a celebrity panel of judges including comedian Chris Bearde of The Gong Show, local magician Mark Collier, actress Angelina Rodriguez, and actor Scott Topper. The decision of who is talented enough to go on the telethon rests on the shoulders of the viewers. Some of the acts included musicians like the blues act of The Troubadours with guitarist Tom Petra and bassist Jeannot Mahaa. Other unorthodox acts like Kitt the Hoop Dancer and the silhouettes of Connie Steketee also performed. All forty acts that took place on September 22 will be culminated into a four thirty-minute episodes that will air on Channel 8. And while their whole act might not make it in everyone that showed up will have their time in limelight in one of four 30-minute episodes that will air on Channel 8.
The auditions will also be available on the Unity Shoppe website for those who don’t catch them on TV. After watching the acts, viewers can go online or call the Unity Shoppe hotline and vote for their favorite act. (Each dollar being one vote.) All of the money raised by this show will go directly to the Unity Shoppe in its mission to aide in the distribution of food and clothing to help prevent homelessness and welfare dependency.
But the telethon won’t be the end of the line for some of the contestants. “We’re really serving a dual purpose. We’re raising money to help people through Unity Shoppe and discovering talent,” Reed said. Talented contestants will have a chance of going to Hollywood to appear on one of Chris Bearde’s new comedy shows. For some of the contestants these auditions could be their big break, but only time will tell if they can make it in the ruthless television industry.