Mike Super owes Howie Mandel one.
The Peters Township illusionist was going to be sent packing off “America’s Got Talent,” the NBC-TV variety show and talent competition, until Mandel, one of the celebrity judges, rescued him and made Super his wild-card pick.
“Howie said he likes that I’m an original,” Super said via email Monday afternoon. “That I’m taking magic in a new direction and giving it a story. Howie likes that everything I’ve done on ‘America’s Got Talent’ has been inventive and fresh. He likes that I’m not doing typical card tricks.”
Tonight, “America’s Got Talent” enters the semifinal phase with a two-hour broadcast starting at 9 p.m. on WPXI-TV (or WTOV-TV from Wheeling, W.Va.). Super is one of four previously eliminated wild-card picks who will be among the 24 semifinalists vying for the program’s $1 million prize and, perhaps more importantly, the exposure that comes with it.
Tonight, Super will be up against a couple of dance and acrobatic acts, comedians, musicians and even another magician. What does Super have up his sleeve – pardon the pun – to stand out in this crowd?
“For Tuesday’s show, I am going larger,” he explained. “As they say, go big or go home! I’ve invented a new illusion that has never been done anywhere. So I hope America responds to it.”
A native of Clairton and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, Super is not a stranger to TV or the pressure-cooker of talent contests. In 2007, he took home $250,000 after coming out on top on NBC-TV’s “Phenomenon,” which pitted magicians against one another. He also appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show and has a full dance card of live shows booked around the country.
Whether he wins or loses on “America’s Got Talent,” Super said the program has won him converts. He pointed out that, on Oct. 4, he has a benefit show scheduled at Trinity High School for Community Action Southwest (tickets for which can be found online at www.mikesupereventbrite.com), and a second performance had to be added, almost certainly because of the exposure he has recently received.
“The show just makes you relevant. It’s kind of like the ‘overnight success that takes 20 years’ cliche. The show puts you in the forefront of the entertainment world.”
And though Super is a polished performer, being nervous is “unavoidable.”
“Thankfully, I perform live in theaters for 2,000 people every night, so it feels similar. But there is the added pressure of live TV and having to be perfect in one shot.”