What are the odds of this?
A comedian auditioning last night for NBC’s 2013 summer season of America’s Got Talent performs well, only to be accused by judge Howie Mandel of lifting the bit from another stand-up comedian — who happened to be AGT’s warm-up audience comic that very night — and still receive a pass through the audition to the Las Vegas round. That’s what happened Thursday night at the Pantages in Hollywood.
Sounds like a case for Comics Unleashed. Or even TruTV. Which are credits both Frank Nicotero and The Greg Wilson share.
Here is “The Greg Wilson” performing a bit uploaded in 2012 about watching a couple fighting in the car next to him.
Sciretta witnessed a performance similar to this for Wilson’s AGT audition, which killed with the audience and most of the judges. But then, Sciretta observed:
“Eventually it got to Howie who opened with a strange question, paraphrased, “Did you write this yourself or are you performing someone else’s material?” Wilson on stage claimed that he created the bit himself, much like Howie created his own bits. He seemed very offended by the question. Howie seemed unsure how to handle the situation. Something was off. After one of the other judges prodded, Howie admitted that he had seen this same act before, performed by another comedian.”
And here is Frank Nicotero — the warm-up comedian for AGT that night (as well as for last year’s edition of The X Factor for FOX) — performing the guy/girl car fight during a club gig a few years ago.
Sciretta recounted what happened next:
Now I know this might seem too good to be true — like something that could have been orchestrated for television, but it didn’t feel like it. I can usually smell a set-up from a mile away. Everyone involved seemed uncomfortable, and the whole thing felt awkward and unplanned. If the producers were involved in a set-up, it seemed clear to everyone at the taping that Howie, the contestant and Nicotero weren’t in on it.
The AGT cameras tried to get Nicotero, who was off to the side of the theater, to come on stage. Nicotero was pissed and didn’t want to be on camera. There were a couple minutes of awkwardness as the producers scrambled to figure the situation out. Howie began backtracking saying that is is possible that two comedians could have come up with similar concept. He then backtracked further, saying the producers could edit this whole thing out if they wanted. Time was ticking so it was decided that the judges had to make a decision, they had to move on to the next act. The judges decided to judge the comedian based on the performance alone, and they agreed to let the contestant pass to the next round in Vegas.
The video cameras stopped and everything got even more awkward. The producers came over to the judges and had a discussion, unmic’d. Moments later, Nicotero went up to Howie at the Judges table and began screaming and ranting. He also wasn’t mic’d, so none of the audience heard what he said. He was visibly pissed.
Wilson hasn’t commented publicly or to The Comic’s Comic yet on the matter; his Twitter @TheGregWilson quiet since Tuesday. He told The Comic’s Comic via email over the weekend that he couldn’t talk about the matter, but maintained: “I assure you I will be fully and completely exonerated.”
Wilson currently appears as a commenter on TruTV’s World’s Dumbest… series, and has performed stand-up on Showtime’s White Boyz in the Hood, Comedy.TV and the aforementioned Comics Unleashed (he’s also appeared in roles on Modern Family and other TV series).
Nicotero did respond to the /film report on Friday. A letter purportedly from him began circulating on Facebook disparaging Wilson.
Nicotero, who has hosted the game show Street Smarts and the Yahoo! daily recap show, Primetime in No Time, did publicly write on his Twitter feed @FrankNicotero that “it wasn’t a set up” but added: “I can’t talk much more about it.”
His Tweets from today (which are replies to someone else, and not Sciretta or @slashfilm):
For what it’s worth, Nicotero’s online bio notes “you can also hear Frank as the voice of TruTV’s AMERICA: CAUGHT ON CAMERA.”