American Idol, Season 10: Bring On The Tourette Syndrome Guy


I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about an American Idol contestant than I am about James Durbin. It’s not because of his voice, though his very Adam Lambert-y turbo-yowl could be entertaining in the context of the show. No: I’m excited because of his tearful confession, during his long video package, that he has Tourette syndrome.

Now. I don’t want to be an insensitive dick. I read Motherless Brooklyn. People with Tourette have a raw deal. But. We’re talking about a live TV show here. A live TV show that happens to be the highest-rated show in the country, and one that puts its contestants — to hear them tell it, anyway — through absurd amounts of stress. So there’s a pretty could chance that Durbin could bust out with sudden, violent outbursts of cuss words as the judges are reviewing his performances, right? I mean, that’s possible? Because that would be incredible. Even with tape-delay censors bleeping out whatever he says, we could be on the road to a real hall-of-fame TV moment here.

Durbin’s affliction is one of many things that made him cry during that video package. He also has a dad who died of an OD, and a small kid. One of his tearful admissions: He’s unemployed, and he sometimes doesn’t have enough money to buy diapers. Which, I mean, come on. You can get a big thing of 40 diapers for $13.99 at Target. You can skimp on other things before you skimp on that. Maybe Durbin should consider taking a break from buying whatever shit he puts in his hair so he can buy the goddamn diapers already. Durbin also has — no exaggeration– the single worst mohawk I have ever seen in my life. It is camp-counselor bad. It is Apl.De.Ap bad. It is Chris “Birdman” Anderson bad. I’m surprised he didn’t break down crying about how bad his fucking mohawk is.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Idol backstory as sob-happy as Durbin’s was, but tonight’s episode was awfully heavy on waterworks, perhaps to act as a counterbalance to that L.A. episode last week where the show just made merciless fun of everyone who crossed its stage. So we got Stephano Langone, who has scars from a bad car accident and who managed to tell his whole story without crying, always a big plus. (His Bruce Willis doppelganger father shed some tears, but whatever.) I’d like Langone a whole lot better if he didn’t grin spastically through “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, but then, insufficient gravitas is always a problem with this show. We got Emily Anne Reed, a tatted-up space cadet with a Zooey Deschanel/Starbucks-commercial voice whose apartment just burned down; the show helpfully offered stock footage of a fire, just to remind us of what fire looks like. (Randy Jackson told Reed that the show’s never had a singer like her, which I guess means we’re all expected to forget Lilly Scott ever happened.) And we got Julie Zorrilla, who comes from Colombia and who is apparently rich as fuck but whose story is somehow sad because something something war something parents are sad something. Seriously, that’s about all they gave us.

To me, the single saddest story was Clint Jun Gamboa, a braying imbecile who hosts a karaoke night in Long Beach and whose glasses rival James Durbin’s mohawk for sheer eyeball-abusing awfulness. During what must’ve been a 30-second audition, Gamboa found two opportunties to squeak, “Junebug in da hoooouse!” Gamboa’s video package worked hard to depict him as a fun guy, but just imagine going through life being that annoying.

This was, blessedly, the last of this season’s audition episodes, so the rest of the show will hopefully be dedicated to people who ostensibly show some talent rather than point-and-laugh mockery of mentally ill attention-seekers and the judges’ lame attempts to get their personas over. This is good. Another montage of terrible singers would break my brain. I still have no idea how this judging panel will work out on live TV. Randy Jackson is, at this point, seriously just grunting in response to auditions half the time, and he appears to be checking his Blackberry while people sing. Steven Tyler did this deranged-old-man routine a couple of times tonight, where he got very excited about the fact that he had a Beatles shirt on. And I’ve gotten to really like Jennifer Lopez, but she still asked at the beginning of the episode who would be the mean one. They still haven’t figured it out!

So as the audition episodes draw to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to shout out the guy who tried out for the show in a homemade Transformers costume. This guy’s outfit is elaborate enough that it actually allows him to turn into a car, and his wheels have a fucking motor in them, so he can roll around when he transforms. It’s fucking badass. He didn’t make it to the Hollywood round, sadly, but he’s still the man. If you’re reading this, Transformer guy, you’re the shit; don’t let Steven Tyler tell you otherwise.

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