Mary: I’ve always been surprised by how many people don’t go to Talent Search. It’s free, something wild always happens (this year included), the contestants are crazy talented, and going into this event I knew I wouldn’t have to hear the same Pitbull song 20 times in a row — something Air Jam can never promise you. The thing I love the most about Talent Search, though, is how the university treats it as the pinnacle of the Homecoming experience, despite being less-attended than almost any other event. From the programs to the projections on the walls of Emens, Talent Search pulls out all the stops from start to finish, and I respect that.
Noah: In my last three years at BSU, I’ve only been to Talent Search one other time. It was one of the most impressionable events I’ve ever attended. Let me set the scene: a young man takes the stage and claims he is a magician. Next to him is a long tarp, covered end-to-end with shards of glass. I connect some dots, I’m getting nervous. This young man then calls up a volunteer to suffocate him with a plastic shopping bag, claiming the lack of airflow will allow him to walk across the glass unharmed — something about the heart pumping blood slower. At this point, I’m shaking. This young man then walks across the tarp several times, no visible laceration in sight. But, he doesn’t stop there. Oh, no. The young man lies down in the glass and rolls around. He won Talent Search that night, and I was never the same. Needless to say, my expectations for this year’s show were high.
M: I don’t remember the guy’s name, but if John Mulaney played Eminem on an SNL sketch, he’s what it would look and sound like. Just picture that. The second host, senior Honors student Phylisia Donaldson, killed it of course. As she has once said in a class we have together, “I don’t play games.” And she didn’t.
N: Talent Search dared to do something most shows don’t have the guts to do: separate the co-hosts from time-to-time and spare us on the constant banter. This gave us the chance to see each host solo and together, and I appreciated the variety. Phylisia was funny, personable, and professional: a dream host all-around. Chris Ulm also did well and was always ready with a good one-liner, but like Mary said, that resemblance was uncanny.
M: Hands down the top act of the night for me was The BSU Jump Ropers*. They were the only performers who got me to put my phone in my pocket so that I could give them a proper standing ovation. And the ovation at the end wasn’t even the first time their act moved me to my feet. The flips, splits, and other tricks were a huge breath of fresh air in what was otherwise a ballad showcase for the Department of Theatre and Dance.
N: Have you ever seen that gif of Michelle Visage reacting to Roxxxy Andrews’ wig reveal on RuPaul’s Drag Race? If not, you’re not only missing out on a key reaction gif, but the best visual representation of me during the BSU Jump Ropers AND the duet between Terica Anthony and Michael Hassel. That’s right, I have two. Mary covered the Jump Ropers about as perfectly as one can, so let me say a few words on this duet. That. Chemistry. Was. Out. Standing. First, these kids came out onstage holding hands. Second, Mr. Hassel had the greatest pastel blue suit I’ve ever seen. Third, they invented harmony that night. Between locking eyes while singing to each other and perfectly blending their voices, I was basically transcending corporeal form.
M: Terica and Michael truly made the whole audience feel their sexual tension, and God bless them for that. They were really good!
N: Paige Matteson, a junior musical theater major and the winner of the night, wowed us all with her rendition of Gravity. The range and control in her voice, paired with her stage presence, was unmatched. Those notes were crisper than a freshly-picked apple from the Minnetrista Farmer’s Market, henny.
M: I mean, anyone who can effortlessly nail a Sara Bareilles song is a goddess in my book. Huge congratulations to Paige. That being said, my jump rope baes got robbed, so jot that down. Also, if I could make one suggestion about how the awards are given out, I think they should run them Toddlers and Tiaras beauty pageant style: if you place in your age group (category) you can’t win Ultimate Grand Supreme (the whole thing). But I guess if Taylor Swift can win two big category Grammy Awards for 1989, a girl I will probably never see again having two Talent Search trophies is something I can live with.
N: I’m so happy for Paige!! I don’t know where these performers find the confidence to get onstage and share their talent with us, but it’s so inspiring to see. While I personally enjoyed the chemistry between Terica and Michael more, Paige is an undeniably excellent choice for a winner, and I’ve dealt with harder losses before. Most of them involving Beyoncé and a Grammy.
M: Like Noah said above, I am forever in awe of anyone who 1) has a talent, and 2) is brave enough to share it with the world. That’s why spending my summer nights watching America’s Got Talent with my parents wasn’t really that big of a bummer. As for Talent Search, it can now be added to my rapidly-growing list of “Things I’ll Never Do Again Because I Graduate In Two Months And Don’t Want To Talk About It Thank You.” I don’t want to talk about it, thank you.
N: I’m so glad that the exhibition performer was not the magician. I could not handle seeing that magician again. Magician: if you see this, your performance will haunt me forever, for better or for worse. To the baton twirler, our actual exhibition performer: if you see this, you killed it, and we all appreciated your determination. Also, what Mary said.
*Actual affiliation to Ball State University athletics unknown. Probably just three friends who like to jump rope together and attend Ball State.