NYC | This is my Sorry for 2013

I was told I should lead with Ruben Studdard, that he was the most exciting part of this story.

I inadvertantly left out this important detail at first when gabbing with my girlfriends at brunch last week about Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. This task was suggested for my 28 Things by David (who accompanied me to The Moth).

#18 Go to Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater

Ruben Studdard (winner of the second season of American Idol) was the special guest star at opening night for this season’s Amateur Night. He sang amazing renditions of two classics, Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” (which the woman next to me got a little too into) and Luther Vandross’ “Superstar.” To answer your first question, yes, this is what he is doing with his life. To answer your second question, yes, he still looks the same.


About an hour before Ruben came on stage, Rohan and I walked into the Apollo Theater on 125th Street in Harlem and immediately felt like we were at a bizarrely themed bar or bat mitzvah. A DJ was on stage and people were standing in their seats dancing emphatically to terrible music from the early 2000s. Then four people were invited on stage to participate in a dance competition. It was all fairly awkward, and just continued being awkward when the host of the show, Comedian Capone, finally came out. He wasn’t as funny as he thought he was, but I have to give him credit because I think I’m funnier than anyone else thinks, too.

The premise of Amateur Night at the Apollo is six performers each week, first place continues on in the competition, winner is crowned during the last week, and he or she receives $10,000. The audience is allowed to boo the competitors off the stage if necessary and the winner is voted by the most applause / loudest noise at the end of the evening. Before the competition began, there was a showcase of youth talent, where two 13-year-olds and one 11-year-old each sang. The 11-year-old was my favorite performer of the night and the one I cheered the loudest for. The crowd was told not to boo the kids so that we didn’t crush their spirits, although I hope people wouldn’t have even without the warning.

The actual adult competition had a male rapper, a male saxophone player, a male singer, two female singers, and a female singer with a guitar. No one got booed off the stage completely, but people were booing at least during the rapper and the female singer with the guitar. If I had to pick someone to win it would be the saxophonist, but I have to say, I wasn’t that into any of them. One of the male singers won. I had been expecting to hear the next Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, or Mariah Carey, all who performed during Amateur Nights before being discovered (although presumably, not on the same night). I would have even settled for the next Ne-Yo. Unfortunately, the performers were not up to my impossible-to-meet standards.

Erin was not impressed.

White House photo | Pete Souza


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