The Apollo Theater: where stars are born and legends are made! If you never heard this phrase on television growing up, I’m so sorry; you missed out on what was probably the best talent searching show in history. “Showtime at the Apollo” was the pinnacle of reality television and talent scouting for over 20 years. If you loved classic R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop music or stand-up comedy, you would’ve been glued to the TV on Wednesday nights. You would’ve stayed up after “Saturday Night Live” to see this. You would’ve stayed tuned after “Soul Train” to catch the show. “Showtime at the Apollo” needs to make a comeback and here’s why.
The Hosts: ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ always had the best hosts for the show. Remember Sinbad? He started it off, followed by Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Lawrence, Mo’Nique, and Steve Harvey. If Steve Harvey is the host, the show will be good! Cue classic intro music:
The Guest Performances: Only the best of the best got to perform at the Apollo and once you did, you’ve made it. Legendary performers like James Brown, Luther Vandross and Jimmie Walker to urban performers like TLC, The Notorious B.I.G. and Chris Rock have graced the Apollo stage. Those performances were like Total Request Live (TRL) for the urban culture. My personal favorite has to be this Boyz II Men performance…
The Amateur Nights: A tradition at the theater on 125th Street is to hold Amateur Night. Anyone dreaming of making it big would audition and put their skills to the test. This is what made the Apollo Theater so popular. Check out these killer performances!
The Tree of Hope: Keeping with tradition, the Tree of Hope was a symbol of good luck at the Apollo. It formerly stood outside the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem. When it was cut down, the Apollo took a chunk of it and sat it on a pedestal for performers to rub for good luck. And trust me, you needed it.
The Crowd: There were no judges at the Apollo. No Simon Cowell, no Randy Jackson, no Howard Stern, no nothing! The crowd was the judge. If you didn’t bring your best talent or material, you were booed off the stage.
The Sandman: Not only were you booed off the stage, but a comedic hobo known as “Sandman” would come out and wipe you off the stage. Oh yeah, It was like that in Harlem, New York.
If it makes you feel better, many big names have been booed. Seriously, who booed Lauryn Hill, Dave Chappelle and Tracy Morgan?!
“Star Search,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “American Idol” don’t capture the spirit that “Showtime at the Apollo” had. On Friday, March 6 at 8 p.m., we’re bringing that spirit to PAWS. Showtime at Towson is our version of the Apollo! You be the judge! The event is hosted by Barack Obima and features DJ Hav Mercy. Come on out and revive the show! Tickets are available in the Union Box Office.
-Jared M. Swain