With a little imagination and a lot of nerve, you can create a hilarious talent show act that blows away the competition. Don’t worry about whether you’re the greatest performer on the stage. Instead, focus on the audience and win their laughs with one of these crowd-pleasing ideas.
At amateur talent shows, less-than-perfect performances are part of the fun. No one expects you to be flawless. But plenty of rehearsing reduces nervousness and helps you enjoy your moment in the spotlight. The key is to keep things simple.
Head to Hollywood
Recreate a simple musical number from a hit movie. Audiences love to cheer for an underdog, so look for movie numbers that feature offbeat characters like favorite movie nerd Napoleon Dynamite. Repeat his goofy dance from the momentous school assembly scene, making it your own. Look the part -- make your outfit and hairstyle reproductions of Dynamite's original costume. Play Canned Heat by Jamiroquai as background music for your dance moves.
Study your character’s mannerisms and aim to capture the quirky details people remember from the movie. Encourage audience participation. If you can get the audience on its feet and rocking along with you, you've got the competition in the bag.
Hit the Pool
Faux synchronized swimming is an easy to stage comedy routine that focuses on precision and team work. Suit up a group of guys or girls in swimming gear, including googles and swim caps. Stretch a long piece of blue cloth across the stage to represent a pool of water. Line up swimmers behind the cloth as if they are standing in waist level water. Play classical music and stage fake dives, lifts and graceful swim strokes for a hilarious and memorable act.
Bring on the Zombies
Surprise the audience by convincing a group of teachers or coaches to show off their moves. Choose a well-known song with easy-to-learn choreography as with Michael Jackson's Thriller. Borrow Jackson's original choreography or come up with simplified movements of your own. The key element is to remain in character -- the performers should aim to be threatening and spooky.
Ask your dancers to imagine they have just crawled out of their graves and encourage them to adopt jerky, shuffling moves and stiff postures. Bump up the zombie factor with graveyard costumes and makeup. The audience will enjoy seeing their teachers shed their cardigans and channel their inner zombies.
Tune in Jimmy Fallon
If you have some genuine musical talent and an ear for impersonations, take inspiration from the Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon’s Wheel of Musical Impressions game. This act may be staged as either a solo routine or a competition between multiple singers with another person playing Jimmy Fallon.
Select a mash-up of childhood songs such as Happy Birthday, Old Macdonald or It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and write the song titles on index cards. On a separate set of index cards, write the names of several well-known music artists with distinctive singing voices -- Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan or Tiny Tim -- an odd bloke that appeared on the Tonight Show when hosted by Johnny Carson. Have the singers choose a card from each stack, then sing their selected song while impersonating the singer whose name they have drawn.
Debra Charlton is a theater director and educator with expertise in Shakespearean production and performance. She holds a doctorate in theater history and criticism from the University of Texas at Austin. Charlton is the author of "Holistic Shakespeare: An Experiential Learning Approach," as well as numerous articles on theater, performance and pedagogy.