Apollo Theater: Calling all Amateurs

The Apollo Theater stage has been graced with music legends such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and, of course, Whitney Houston. It was also where Ella Fitzgerald started her career after she won an Amateur Night as a teen.

But Amateur Night at the Apollo isn’t always a “winning” environment for those on the stage.

“If you like them, what are you going to do,” Capone, a comedian and the Amateur Night host, said into the mic.

There is a mixture of cheering, clapping, whistling.

“If you don’t like them, what are you going to do,” Capone asked.

A long, collective, drawn out “boo” fills the theater.

Contestants vary from singers, dancers, beatboxers and spoken word artists. One performer during the Amateur Night on Feb. 15 sang Boys II Men “I’ll Make Love to You.” There was an awkward twang in the chorus as if he accidentally made it into a country song. Before he was able to start the second chorus, the theater unleashed a chorus of boos.

It’s loud, but a new app developed for iPhones and Androids help audience members voice opinions amidst the cheering. At a recent Amateur Night, Hyo-Jin Kim won first place for beatboxing. His mouth sounded like a raging nightclub that had both a DJ and drum line.

During most of his performance, there were bursts of cheering. The app, which is free to download, has a function similar to Twitter. One user, Kathy Luo, posted “Wow the Korean guy rocked the house!”

The performers can cause you to tear up from laughter because they’re that bad, or give you chills because they’re that good. And since the theater is of intimate proportions, no seat is too far to hear or see the travesty or majesty that comes out on Amateur Night.

Tickets can be purchased on the Apollo Theater website.