If there is anything you could criticize about me and my career, it’s that I’ve taken SO LONG to get known… That’s the main reason that I entered the America’s Got Talent competition, so that I could finally  get properly introduced to the population and move up and out of the category of “I’ve seen that guy…”

To be honest, it’s my fault.  (But you knew that.)

I have suffered all my life from, not stage fright, but mis-estimation of effort. 

When I first started my acting career in New York, it was really only a short time before I was in the top percentage of actors working in voiceover and commercials.  And it wasn’t really very hard to do, I just had to keep performing and promoting myself to casting directors and anybody else I could think of, and the word spread.

It helped that I was in my twenties, of course.  Who doesn’t want to watch a twenty year old act silly on TV?

I had a blast, and everything seemed to move along inexorably, or what I think inexorable means–unstoppable.  (There, I just looked it up- that is what it means.  Phew!)

I guess you could say at a certain point I took my foot off the gas.

Now, here I am, nearly the oldest person (there’s a comic who is my age) in America’s Got Talent, Season 8, still doing the impressions that got me attention back in the 80’s and got me started in my “promising career.”

I’m getting tired of promising.  Now I just want to deliver.

Some things about being a late bloomer are working to my advantage, though.  I’m much more knowledgeable of how big TV events are produced, I’m not fazed by celebrities, I know the catalog of mistakes one can make onstage, (although new ones develop hourly) and my youthful enthusiasm is still intact. 

So, all in all, I guess I’d rather be me, an experienced talent who still has yet to be put to the acid test, than a younger, infinitely more energetic and appealing, attractive, youthful and zesty, twenty-something (or younger) but with no real clue as to what the whole thing really means.

Like I have a choice!

Once again, I’m very grateful to my mom, Marion– my first mentor, who at nearly 85 is still zesty, youthful and interested in her career and in creating her world.

A confession: when I was younger, I did have a goal of being as well-known and beloved a performer as Marion by the time I was forty or so, the age she was when Happy Days really took off.  I was pretty sure I was heading inexorably to that target, no problem.

Well, we know what happened to that target.  Mis-estimation of effort! And the fact that Marion is a truly incomparable, incandescent talent in a league of her own who would shine brightly in any age.  What an inspiration.

So, we shall see if a late bloomer like me can thrive in the garden of AGT, or if the new, fresh crop will capture the attention of all the bees and get all the water and sunshine and fertilizer and… oh, enough already.

America’s Got Talent, Tuesdays at 9/8 Central on NBC.