Comedian Adam Grabowski Talks America’s Got Talent, Controversial Judge Cuts Act (EXCLUSIVE)
Comedian Adam Grabowski was one of the top comedic talents from America’s Got Talent 2016, earning a rousing ovation with his audition performance. The guy came across as a total charmer who lives out of his car, and has a serious dedication to comedy, touring relentlessly to such an extent that he hardly ever gets to see home. However, Grabowski hit a bit of a snag in the Judge Cuts round, as a joke about “Food Pervs” appeared to have bombed pretty hard. Or did it?
Knowing that reality television employs tons of editing trickery, I was naturally curious. And when the opportunity arose to actually interview Adam about his experience, I saw a chance to see just how much of the supposed Judge Cuts disaster actually happened.
This was a pretty fun interview for me, as I thought Adam was a really cool guy, who was not only completely open about his America’s Got Talent experience, but also readily capable of admitting his own faults with the routine. Overall, he was pretty classy in his approach to how he was portrayed on the show. Hell, I’m not sure I would have been as chill.
Check out my exclusive interview with Adam Grabowski below:
Why did you decide to audition for AGT? Why now?
Actually, they saw me three years ago when I was showcasing for a conference to book colleges in Atlanta, and the producers came and talked to me. I actually filmed three years ago. I went in front of the judges. I got three yeses, and they put me through to the next round. But then they just never — they were, like, “Well, we’re not going to air it, and you’re not going to be in the next round.”
Yeah, the way the show works, they have more people go up in front of the judges than actually get shown or that actually get to the next round. And then, later, they pick the ones they want to actually go.
Yeah, there are a couple of acts that mysteriously disappear between getting three or four yeses and then going to the next round. And I always wonder what happens to those acts.
There are even more acts that had that happen, who don’t ever have anything shown. That’s what happened to me three years ago. So, since I did it three years ago, and it went well, and I got passed through, I’ve been on their list for the last couple years. So they reached out to me this past year, and I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
So Simon would have been the only judge who hadn’t seen you before?
Yes. But you gotta remember. It’s been three years, and they’ve seen thousands upon thousands of acts, and they have amazing entertainment careers. So [the other judges] don’t remember. And my hair’s a little different, so there’s no memory.
So what was the audition process like? When you got brought on, was there any sort of pre-screening or material to approve?
Oh yeah, everything had to be pre-approved, because it had to go through legal. So when I do my Disney jokes, we actually had to change some of the lines, because I actually sing the song. Like The Little Mermaid joke, I joke about how she just got her lady parts, and she’s like [to the tune of “Part of Your World”], “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? / Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?” But I couldn’t say that because I’d be singing the song on TV, but that has to do with copyright laws and songs.
Was there anything from your audition that you wish had been shown but wasn’t?
I wish the full first round would have been shown. What they showed was great, and the reactions were real. In a Twitter video, they showed one of my Disney jokes, and on TV, they showed another one. But I did six movies, and each one had two jokes in it. So there’s probably about twelve jokes in the first round. And then, in the second round, all of the punchlines got edited out. Every punchline.
So I suppose that’d be my next question: where were you going with the judge cuts routine before things sort of got derailed?
The thing is, they didn’t really get derailed in real life. When I said [my food joke], the judges didn’t react, but the audience did. I was making my comments about how “Have you ever been to a meal and heard your date make a noise for a dessert that she’s never made for you?” Then I casually bring up how I took this girl out for dinner, and for dessert, she says she got salted caramel creme brulee. And then, when I say that quietly and deeply into the microphone, the audience made the noise, like “Ohhhhhhhhh”. And then that’s when I freak out on them! I’m like, “You just made the noise! How many of you are having a food perv moment right there?”
That’s the fun part of the joke, but when they take away the audience making that noise, it looks like nobody reacted. The room isn’t just the five judges, it’s the five judges surrounded by 700 people. So when you do stand-up, you can’t just tell it to five people, you have to tell it to the room. The way the judges reacted to me at the end, and the way they were acting towards me, was real. But in terms of the audience not getting anything, or me giving up on the joke, I didn’t give up on the joke. I did a full two minutes. But they only showed about thirty seconds.
Were there any other jokes in the routine?
Totally. I joked about how you can talk about food in ways you couldn’t talk about other stuff. You could watch someone walk by with cinnamon french toast, and be like, “Oh my god, get inside me right now. I need that in my mouth.” You know? You can’t say that about things that aren’t food. I go down that process. And then, when I started listing the foods, that was for the audience. And they started making the noises!
So there was a sort of call-and-response element to it.
Yeah, and the fun part is that when you start listing food, people forget that I’m telling a joke. Like, they just want me to keep listing the foods until I name their food. And I reference that! It was all on the topic of food because I like to stay with one theme, but there was something around eight to ten jokes that weren’t shown. But I’m very happy for the experience, and I learned a lot from it. I could have done better, and I know that. And I know that it didn’t go as well as I would have liked it to. And it’s okay that the judges didn’t like it much. I can’t be mad about that! They’re doing their jobs! And that’s okay if they didn’t like it. I just wish they had shown the joke as it happened, so that people at home could get it.
Yeah, it’s sort of half the story. But hey, it’s still exposure, and it’s still a different kind of experience, I suppose.
Definitely! And people have been very nice, by the way. I only get one or two messages where people are mean. But mostly everybody says “I got the joke” or “You’re very funny, keep going” or “I want to see you live.” So all the outreach has been positive, and the experience has been positive.
And have you had any chances to be home more often, or are you still living out of the car?
Well…. [Laughs] I’ve been able to stop at home. My sister is about to have a kid, so I came back to Illinois for a little while.
Thank you! I’m a first-time uncle, and it’s my only sister! But yeah, I moved to LA, but then I had to come back here for some shows. I go to West Virginia [on July 19] for a show, and then I go to New York City to do some shows for the weekend. Then I go to LA to film something for three days, and then I’m back in Chicago. And then I go on tour. So it’s been just as crazy as it’s always been. Because [AGT segments] are shot a while before they air, I did the show amidst doing a four-month, 90-college tour.
And that’s a record for me! And a record for the college market. It was crazy. It was great, and it took a lot of discipline to survive that. But that was pretty accurate, the car thing. I live out of my car when I’m on tour. But I sleep in hotels!
Well hey, you have a nicer wardrobe in my car than I have in my closet, so let’s be fair, now.
Always discount! Always on sale! I don’t like full prices. [Laughs]
So what’s next for you?
To just continue touring like I do. I have fifty colleges booked for this fall, in addition to doing more things in Los Angeles and getting involved in more projects. So it’s just more clubs, more touring. The point of it is to do more stand-up, which I have been doing, but hopefully with a larger audience, and being able to be involved in more projects that are fun, like TV and writing.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your AGT experience?
Yes! The performers that are there are all good people. They’re all talented, even the ones who come across that they didn’t do well. They’re still talented. And maybe it was because it’s a difficult thing to do, or maybe it was because it’s an act that wasn’t as easily received. But some of those audiences have been there for five hours before you perform for them. They’re there for an hour beforehand, and then they’re in the audience for three and a half hours before you even get on the stage, because there’s a lot of TV production that has to happen. You know, when they hit that Golden Buzzer, which was super exciting, they had to clean up all that confetti. So you get these people that are talented, but iof you perform for an audience five hours after sitting there, not everyone is going to be ready for comedy or funny hip-hop. After five hours of sitting there? Their audiences are very nice and awesome, but it’s just hard to be somewhere for that long, on those long shooting days.
Any plugs you wanted to get in?
For sure! And thank you so much for asking my side of it. I wish the conversation could just be a celebration of being on the show, so sorry if it seemed like it wasn’t that. Because I was glad for the experience.
Of course! I wanted to know what your end of it was, because I know there’s a lot of editing that goes into reality TV, so there was probably a lot we didn’t get to see. But judging from interviews, it seems there are plenty of people who seem to have a positive experience on the show, even if things don’t go all that well.
I think that’s because people tend to be forgiving. And then we move on. So I’m hoping most people will just remember the good that they saw, and that I was on there, and not the awkward silence that was added in. I mean, the judges still weren’t having it, but that’s okay. It really is.
As for plugs, my website is AdamGrabowski.com. And check out my tour! I’m going to be in Chicago, performing at the Laugh Factory on August 2nd and 3rd. And then the WIP Theater on the 4th in Chicago. And then I’ll be based at the Burbank Comedy Festival at Slappers, performing August 15th, 16th and 18th. And, the thing I want to plug the most, is my YouTube channel so people can see the Food Perv joke and watch the Disney joke, because you can see it how it is. You can see the full joke!
Awesome! Thank you so much for talking to me!
I appreciate you asking! And thank you for asking for the full story. Because TV time is limited, and there’s a lot that can’t be shown. And it’s cool to be able to share. Like, all those other acts that were there? We were there for a week. So those people, I’m good friends with now, and I talk with them regularly. So it’s a great experience.
I’m glad you were positive on the experience overall. And I wish you the best of luck on your tour.
Thank you so much!
The Judge Cuts on America’s Got Talent continue this week on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8/7c.