Ryan meets a little kid named Kayden Stevenson, who is actually 16. He looks cheerful and happy, but he reveals that he has cystic fibrosis and thus a life expectancy of 35. Now what the hell am I supposed to do with that? Make a crack about how he's the only person who has ever auditioned for American Idol as part of a midlife crisis? I don't envy the judges if he turns out not to be a good singer. We see him at home hooked up to a breathing machine and he says that the upside of having a terminal illness is that he can do everything when he's young. Well, because he has to. Good on him for looking on the bright side, even if it is illuminated with a penlight. He sings "I Wish" and has kind of a high, thin voice like young Michael Jackson but not as good. Still, his is an inspirational story, so they chat him up a bit and tell him yes, unanimously. So there goes several months of his unnaturally short life. Nicely done, judges.
Ryan gets ready to wrap it up, telling us there were 45 people going on to the next round. But the footage suddenly stops in Kayden's mid-jump, making us think for one terrifying moment that he's already dead. But no, it's just that there's one more auditioner. A long, blonde-haired figure in female clothes is shown from behind in a way that tells us immediately that it's a man dressed as a woman. Sure enough, that's exactly what it is. A man named Steven Tyler, in fact, who does a whole bit for them in character using a falsetto before tearing off his wig and tearing out his fake boobs. The judges laugh as though this is the most hilarious thing they've ever seen and not a desperate, Stephen Baldwin-style grab at a few more moments of reality-show exposure. Alas, Steven Tyler is not going to Hollywood, not least because he's over the age limit by... oh, a number that has an exponent in it. But they humor him by giving him a fake golden ticket to use as a prop, which he carries out of the audition room before sticking his wig on Ryan's head. Everyone involved in this show must miss him so terribly. Next week, we're going to Hollywood, so we can start missing the audition rounds. Or at least try to.
M. Giant is a Minneapolis- based writer with a wife, a son, and a number of cats that seems to have settled at around two. Learn waaaay too much about him at Velcrometer, follow him on Twitter, or just e-mail him at m.giant[at]gmail.com.