“I’m 36, white and driving a taxi, this is clearly not the first wrong turn I’ve made,” said a comic trying out for “America’s Got Talent” on Monday (Apr. 8) in New York.
The stand-up comedian, Jimmy Failla, works as a taxi driver. He had a very short routine about how white people are very specific in taxi directions and black people are not.
As he spoke about his ability to speak English and the difference between white and black taxi passengers, Mel B, a new judge on the show, buzzed to eliminate him.
Some of the audience — which Zap2it was a part of — booed — generally white men, and some, generally black women, applauded — when the Artist Formerly Known as Scary Spice registered her opinion.
It was a fairly typical response during the auditions because the warm-up comic encourages the audience to cheer and boo the judges. In March, a Louisiana audience also responded with displeasure when Mel B. vetoed Lagniappe, a popular New Orleans brass band.
Mel B explained during and after Failla’s performance: “I just don’t find him funny.”
As for the three other judges, Howie Mandel also rejected the comedian, though he later said he thought Failla was humorous. Howard Stern called Mel B.’s own sense of humor into question and Heidi Klum said that people do — and should be allowed to — make jokes about differences between the races.
As with a number of acts, the judges debate for a while, and Mel B stuck to her response, saying that his act was offensive. On Thursday (April) she reiterated via her spokesperson that she stand by her original assessment.
“America’s Got Talent” returns for its eighth season on Tuesday, June 4.