Twelve-year-old Trevor Burke has been on camera before, but never like this.
Today, Burke is scheduled to go before a full TV crew and studio audience at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J., for a taped audition for the NBC reality show “America’s Got Talent,” his father Joseph Burke said.
He and other hopefuls will try to get the green light from the show’s celebrity judges to advance in the competition in the hopes of earning fame and the $1 million prize.
Burke, a sixth-grader at Wredling Middle School in St. Charles, gets 90 seconds to do part of his stand-up comedy routine that he has honed over the last few years. Even though famous faces like Howard Stern and Heidi Klum are expected to be watching him, he doesn’t think he’ll get too nervous.
“Even though I’m still just a kid, I do know what I’m doing,” Burke said. “Definitely more than when I started out.”
Burke, a West Chicago resident, has come a long way in just a few short years. He first got into comedy by telling jokes at a talent show in 2010 while he was a third-grader at Norton Creek Elementary School in West Chicago. When that became a success, he began to try his bit at open mic performances in Chicago and Milwaukee.
Burke’s routine sticks to what he knows – his parents, teachers, school and gaming. He also has his share of inappropriate material like most comics, but he said he won’t use that for the taping.
Helping Burke along the way is his father, who’s also his manager. He’s the one that helps Burke refine his material. The elder Burke also filled out the lengthy paperwork that “America’s Got Talent” requires in order for people to be considered for the show. Contestants can get on the show by either auditioning online or going to an open call audition.
Joseph Burke said he turned in the paperwork in October, and then earlier this month a producer for the series called to ask if Burke was still interested in putting his son on the show.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” Joseph Burke said. “He’s on a very fast track.”
That track will still include school and homework assignments, which Burke said he tries to complete before traveling to work on a project. He has appeared in 17 short films, three feature-length films and two music videos.
Burke admits that sometimes being away from his mom and friends is hard, but he’s already learned to make sacrifices.
“I miss some stuff, I definitely do ... but work is work. I have a lot of fun,” Burke said.
At least one Chicago-area comic, Dobie Maxwell, thinks Burke will have staying power. Maxwell tours nationally and has performed on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
Likability is more important than being funny, and Burke has that, Maxwell said. Similar to Maxwell’s TV appearance, Burke will have the opportunity to reach millions of viewers and gain credibility quickly.
“This will give him a career,” Maxwell said of Burke.