By Samantha Brandbergh
An audience flocked to the Cavalla Room for the second annual Rider’s Got Talent to watch 13 hopefuls show off their talents and help choose comedian Colin Coyle (freshman digital media major) as this year’s champion.
Contestants competed for a chance to win a cash prize of $250 and to perform at Family Weekend this week. This year, the competition was judged by comedian Emma Willmann, and season three of America’s Got Talent’s Xclusive and America’s Got Talent season 8 contestant Leon Etienne. The winner was chosen by the audience.
“This year was definitely a step up from last year,” said Andrew LoBrace, coordinator for student programs. “Hearing the positive feedback from each of the judges showed that we are a university filled with talented students. My favorite part about the whole event was the laughter from the audience when Colin was performing. He seemed like a true star.”
Before the contestants hit the stage, the audience was entertained by one of the celebrity judges, illusionist Etienne. He put on an entertaining set that consisted of card tricks, turning a drawing of a circle into a bowling ball, and converting an empty bottle of Coke into a full can, which got the audience involved and left them stunned.
As for the students, the night was filled with talent including dancing from Andrew Lee (senior marketing major), Madison Csuzmadia (junior elementary education major) and Nicole Alvarico (sophomore accounting major); piano playing from Nicholas Binner (freshman business economic major), and comedy from Coyle, whose stories of his dad and “Free Hugs” T-shirts earned him standing ovations from two of the judges. Greg Peck (sophomore chemistry major) bucked the trend, as the only spoken word performer at the show. Although he got two “X”s from the judges before he was finished and did not advance into the next round, the audience was left wanting more.
After the first six contestants performed, the second celebrity judge, Willmann, took the stage. She has appeared on networks such as Comedy Central and will be featured on a show on Oxygen starting in December. Her hilarious set — filled with jokes about her dyslexia, the small town she grew up in, and Ellen Degeneres — left the audience in stitches.
The last seven contestants included comedians Kamalika Sharma (freshman global supply chain management major) and Zane Birnie (freshman business administration major). This was Sharma’s first time doing stand-up, but it was Birnie, who made light of what life is like being legally blind, who went to the next round.
After all the contestants had graced the stage, the third and final celebrity judge, Xclusive, Season 3 contestant on America’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance, performed for the audience. He opened up with a hilarious comedy set, then paid tribute to Michael Jackson in a story-telling fashion, incorporating music, dance, and comedy. His unique and high-energy performance was well-received by the audience.
Now, it was time to decide the winner of Rider’s Got Talent. The audience was in control of who the winner would be. Attendees got slips of paper with each contestant’s name, and a keyword to text in their vote. After the judges gave the contestants pep talks and advice on how to forward their careers and talents, the votes were in. It was announced that the runner-up was dancer and contortionist Mikaela Batts (freshman digital media major), and the winner of Rider’s Got Talent was Coyle.
“It was a tremendous feeling,” said Coyle. “Everyone in the show was so talented and to be selected by my peers means a lot.”
When it comes to comedy, Coyle says it would “be a dream come true to be able to perform stand-up for a living.” Colin has been doing stand-up for two years and has performed at open mic events in Philadelphia. He says that comedy will always be a “very big part” of his life.
Students and their families will have the pleasure of seeing Coyle perform again at parent’s weekend Nov. 7-9.
Printed in the 11/5/14 edition.