The way Magic Cyclops tells it, he only ended up appearing on Fox’s American Idol because he thought he was getting in an enormous line outside Invesco Field to purchase Broncos tickets. Remarkably, the truth behind his appearance as a booted contestant on a soon-to-air episode is even more ridiculous: Producers from the show got in touch with owners of 3 Kings Tavern who, on a lark, referred them to Magic Cyclops, Fort Collins’ veteran of confrontational comedy rock. They apparently skipped checking out his recently released discography, The Magic Collection 2000—2010, and just contacted him, and gave him a pass to skip the lines and get in front of judges. His magical rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie” was enough to earn him a spot in front of the celebrity tribunal who sent him packing, just as expected. While you’ll have to tune in to get specifics about his time in the spotlight, he spoke with The A.V. Club about the hard-knock life of a novelty musician.
The A.V. Club: How did the audition process take to the Magic Cyclops experience? You can be polarizing.
Magic Cyclops: The first audition I did, they group you and a whole bunch of people. Everyone in that group was looking at me like, “Yeah, there’s no way this guy’s going to make it.” As it turns out, I was the only one in my group that even made it. I think that had a lot to do with my Neil Diamond routine and the fact that I made the judges laugh.
AVC: You’ve always been in the vein of Andy Kaufman, where the joke’s primarily on the audience if they don’t figure it out.
MC: That is one of my heroes. It’s really funny to me that the reason that I’ve had to do what I’ve had to do is because the Denver comedy scene, for whatever reason, is very standoffish towards me. They haven’t accepted me into their tight-knit little group. I’ve been forced to play music clubs instead of comedy clubs.
AVC: Isn’t that more fun than playing comedy clubs?
MC: I have no clue, because I’ve never been able to play a comedy club. I’ve only been turned down. It turns out, the world of comedy is a lot more cutthroat than the world of music, and if you’re not part of their little clique, then they seem to turn their back towards you. I’ve been told by several Denver comedians that I would never make it in the world of comedy. That’s very close-minded. I think there’s different kinds of comedy. Because I’m not up there just telling one-liners or whatever, they don’t understand what I’m doing. The advent of Flight Of The Conchords and Tim And Eric made people understand what I’ve been going for this entire time. That kind of makes things better for me.
I’ve always been big fans of that stuff. I’ve always done weird Tim And Eric things. I was always really bizarre like that before anyone even knew who these guys were. It’s stuff that I like because that’s the kind of thing I’m into. It’s good to see things like The Mighty Boosh and weird TV shows. It kind of gives me hope.
AVC: Even when you were playing your first shows 10 or 11 years ago, audience members were hassling you because they didn’t understand the humor. You seemed to enjoy it. Is that part of the fun for you?
MC: It’s funny to me that people get so upset with what I do at times. Some people just can’t wrap their minds around it. Or just the fact that I’m one guy alone on stage makes me an easy target or something. It’s easy to poke fun of one guy, but no one’s going to go after a band. There are times when I enjoy it, and times when the annoying guy who yells, “You suck!” 4000 times in a row just makes you want to quit.
AVC: Did that prepare you at all for the American Idol experience?
MC: Yes. I had absolutely no illusion of becoming America’s next idol. I did what I did, and it was funny to do one. Being trapped in rooms with 16-year-old girls for nine hours was like if the DMV was inside a Forever 21 store. It was excruciating. They definitely make you work for it. Mentally, that was the most draining part of that. It was like torture, I guess you could say. Being trapped in rooms with no food or water. The one time there was food or water, you had to buy it and it was overpriced. That was disappointing. You have to be mentally tough.
AVC: Did your lack of any expectation of success make it more fun for you?
MC: Yes. I’ve had things thrown at me. I’ve been in fights because of what I do. Three overpaid celebrities aren’t going to hurt my feelings at this stage in the game. And Steven Tyler does look like a lady. It took every fiber of my being not to say that on camera.
AVC: Are you excited to see this episode broadcast?
MC: I’ll never watch it. I’m fine with never seeing it. It brings back nightmarish images of being trapped in between groups of high school girls talking about what they wanted to do with their millions and fame.
Look for Magic Cyclops’ audition on an upcoming episode of American Idol.