Black and white photo of comedian Adam Grabowski

Behind the Screen: An Inside Look into Comedy, Competition, and the Entertainment Industry

Written by Emma CrowE

Your whole life has been about making it to this stage. Your hands tighten around the microphone as you step out onto the black tiled floor of your future. Spotlights flicker on, warm your skin and blur your vision.

You kill it on the stage, get a standing ovation and move on to the next round. You’re living the life, on the precipice of all your dreams, only to get an email a few weeks later saying your act is too similar to others. Your audition footage never airs. How do you move on?

Adam Grabowski, four-time Collegiate Comic of the year and former contestant on America’s Got Talent, gives CWU Hype the inside scoop about being a comedian and competing on America’s Got Talent.

From College to Career

Comedy isn’t the type of career people simply fall into. It takes a healthy balance of natural humor and practice to become a successful comedian.

Grabowski has always loved entertaining people. As a teen, he discovered how his humor drew people towards him. While he has enjoyed comedy since he was a young kid, he didn’t officially pursue comedy as a career until his senior year of college. On the precipice of graduation, Grabowski decided to use his psychology degree for good. What better way to help people than to make them laugh?

Grabowski Comedy

Comedy can take many different forms, and each comedian has their own flare. Grabowski prides himself on being a socially conscious comedian. He describes his comedy as “observational and relatable.”

The #SAYITANYWAY campaign is Grabowski’s way of bringing awareness to mental health and providing a safe space for everyone. The emphasis is placed on treating others like human beings and being kind to one another.

When asked why he started the #SAYITANYWAY campaign, Grabowski says, “So many people deal with unnecessary BS every day in the name of social pressure, marketing manipulations, and close-mindedness.”

Grabowski takes his role as a socially conscious comedian seriously. He’s not interested in making jokes at the expense of others. Grabowski says, “I cannot and will not go against my morals in terms of equity, empathy, understanding, love, reality, and camaraderie.”

He continues to bring awareness to mental health during, and outside of, his comedy shows.

The College Circuit

There are several paths comedians can take when it comes to where they perform. Grabowski sticks to the college circuit, having performed over 800 college shows at the time this story is released.

So, what makes the college circuit different than other comedy venues? Grabowski places importance on the fact that college audiences are still growing as people.

Other venues are filled with people well into their careers who may be too tired to interact with the material. It also helps that students typically get into the shows for free. Grabowski lists “paying too much for mandatory drink minimums” as one of the many reasons club venues don’t cultivate attentive audiences the way college shows do.

Behind the Scenes of America’s Got Talent

Now for what you came to this story for, America’s Got Talent (AGT). When asked about how he ended up competing on AGT, Grabowski says, “More like competing against AGT.” The show is not the welcoming environment it has been presented as.

Years ago, Grabowski competed on AGT. His performance went over well, eliciting a standing ovation and a pass to the next round. However, the footage of his audition never aired.

He received an email a few weeks after his audition informing him that he would no longer be moving on to the next round. AGT decided they had too many acts similar to Grabowski’s, and that was seemingly the end.

AGT reached out to Grabowski for years before he agreed to audition again. He performed on season 11 of AGT and was eliminated during the Judge Cuts. Grabowski summed up his experience on AGT in one word “traumatic.”

With his AGT days behind him, Grabowski stays focused on his college shows and mental health advocacy. He says his favorite part of his job is connecting with people, and he is able to do that on the college circuit in a way he couldn’t through the screen.

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