People don’t flop onto their sofas to watch NBC’s Americas Got Talent (AGT) because they hope to learn about their marriage. But, in a way, one could.
With celebrities like Howard Stern and Heidi Klum, AGT woos 11 million viewers. We watch the bids for love and attention, the dismissals that follow, and the body-trembling joy when at long last someone’s inner oddball is embraced. Yeah, almost like a marriage.
Contestants walk onto the stage. Let’s just say the stage is your relationship. The AGT camera goes aerial, giving reality to how small any of us really are as we seek connection or approval. A second camera pans the onlookers, who stand to find you out for better or for worse.
Riding imagination and terror, the tiny contestant on the giant stage says his or her name into the mic. Howard, Heidi, Howie, or Mel B reply, “What are you going to do for us tonight?”
Yeah, just what are you going to do for us?
Moment to moment in a relationship, we are each the judge, the onlooker, and the contestant. If we’re kind, we try to mostly play the role of AGT host Nick Cannon.
It’s easy to hang out in the roles of judge and onlooker. There’s no risk. No vulnerability of rejection. No work in honing your skills and courage. Please me, and I’ll tell you if you’re good enough. I’m sorry. It’s a no.
The camera now zooms in on the contestant’s face. As onlookers, we spy the faintest quivering of a lower lip. The vulnerability. The performer croaks “thank you” so that he can escape the stage. But, like a relationship, we can’t escape the stage so easily. An AGT cameraman follows the diminished person backstage, like living with someone, no where to hide really.
As the camera goes backstage, we stretch-out on our sofas and think, “Oh, man, that poor bugger. What was he thinking anyway? I’m so glad it’s him and not me.”
Yet, non-stop, we are contestants in our relationships, even if we think we are not. We humans long to feel lovable and capable. “You, my friend, got talent!”
Usually, Heidi Klum’s and Howie Mandel’s friendly “It’s a yes from me” can make any of us soar. While we know that softening our own internal judges is the core of self happiness, a relationship becomes a real-life stage where we make bids for love and attention. We look to our partners, the ad hoc judges, for positive recognition. A smile, a nod. Just as much, our partners unconsciously and consciously experience us as judge of their value, too. So, give a nod. A smile. And, all along, we hope that the onlookers, meaning ourselves and our mates, will be compassionate as well. No booing.
Enter the playful host, Nick Cannon. Be like Nick and you’ve got a marriage that you want to be in. He puts his arm around contestants’ shoulders reassuringly. He encourages the judges and onlookers to go easy. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, so that contestants can find relief in not taking themselves too seriously either. You and your partner center stage as host? Now, that’s talent.