Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Judging talent contests and the odd buzz from being booed

At about nine o’ clock on Thursday night there is a very good chance I might be getting booed.

This is because I will, once again, be one of the three judges at the latest round of Komedia’s Bath’s Top Talent competition which may have some teeny, weeny, relation to a certain TV contest which kicked off in dramatic style on Saturday evening.

The Bath’s Top Talent event is a fun and revealing contest which showcases the wide variety of musical and non musical talent in and around the city.

Along with Chronicle reporter Felicity Crump and the editor of Venue Magazine Joe Spurgeon, I helped to judge the previous round which saw me face-to-face with two very memorable drag dancers, a Frank Sinatra sound-a-like and several other very enjoyable acts. We were not judging in the way that the X Factor/Britain’s Got Talent judges do as the vote very much belongs to the audience but we were there to make comments and it was amazing (and a little bit frightening) how attentive people were to our words of apparent wisdom.

By and large we were able to say nice things about most people and received a smattering of polite applause on occasions. However, as we all know now from so many TV competitions about singing, dancing and entertainment, it is when you make slightly critical comments that people really start to vent their opinion.

And it is especially notable that if the booze is flowing, the boos will too.

The weird thing is – and maybe this is where Simon Cowell started to make his millions – that when you do get a boo it is actually quite an interesting (and not altogether unpleasant) feeling. I felt my fellow judge Miss Crump, for example, seemed to enjoy being booed rather too much but I can see where it can get almost addictive. After all, it is often said that it is better to be booed and vilified than ignored and some talent competition judges clearly adhere to this principle.

As such, these competitions have become the new pantomimes – and the big bad wolf villains are the likes of Simon Cowell, Craig Revel Horwood and Jason Gardiner.

I can’t help feeling it is all a far cry from the first talent competition I remember watching on TV – Opportunity Knocks. Fronted by a man who, in hindsight, was more than a little bit strange (Hughie Green), this was a show that was light years away from texts and internet voting and where careers could rise or fall on how loud the audience clapped, thanks to that highly-unscientific “clapometer”.

The change started to occur when the ultra-cuddly Derek That’s My Dog Hobson (above) fronted New Faces and we had our first experience of judges saying negative things about artists. I seem to recall there was a national outcry at times about things Tony Hatch said but as we kept tuning in just to be offended the seed of a great idea was planted. X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing et al were later to watch that seed (the “controversial judges wind up audience for sport” seed), blossom into the most watched shows on TV.

So I really want to like everyone I see on Thursday night but if I don’t, please don’t boo me. Boo Fliss instead because she really likes it. Honest.


Melissa said...

Great piece, Sam! The Animal Disco will be there to support you on Thursday. Keep up the good work!

Amber Smiths said...

Talent Showcase - Upload your talent videos, participate in online talent contest and share your singing, dancing, acting, comedy, sports talent with world. Upload your talent videos to