Would you put a live tarantula in your mouth for the biggest talent competition show in the world?
Neon Entertainment’s Magician Illusionist Joseph Réohm did!
As an entertainer I really try to take it to the next level and I’ll do almost anything for my art.This was the second year in a row that AGT producers approached me with a golden ticket an opportunity to skip the lines and walk strait onto the AGT stage!
I decided to go on the show this year with a magic group I’m a part of called The Surrealists (Spidey, Joel Meyers and myself). We made it to the Finale of TruTV’s Fake Off last year and thought AGT would be a great follow-up.
So, the producers ask if we could create a shocking act for the show. “Of course we can!!”. I called Spidey and we got to brainstorming. I thought of an idea of asking one of the judges to reach into a bag and tell us what they felt. Once they felt a rope and said “rope” we’d reveal that what was in the paper bag was a actually live snake and set it on the judges panel! Spidey says, “Perfect, I love it”
Spidey calls me back a few hours later and says, “Joseph, love the snake idea and we’re doing it, BUT that’s not all! We’ll create an act based around fears and we’ll end the act with a live spider coming out of your mouth that’s been there from the very beginning of the act!” Me, “NOPE! Not happening. No, no way!”
Spidey, “It will be epic!” Me, “Spidey, not happening, your name is Spidey, it’s your branding, you can put the spider in your mouth!”
Then we get Joel Meyers on the line and he says, “This would be so amazing! Why don’t you want to put a live spider in your mouth” Me: “Oh I don’t know Joel. Let’s ask like 100 people why they wouldn’t want to put a live spider in their mouth and maybe we can come up with a common answer!!”
Long story short I got the “short” straw and I was voted to do the spider bit as Joel would do the snake bit. I cringed and chills ran through my body every time I thought of it, but I also knew that this would create the biggest reaction that AGT has ever seen and the exposure alone would be priceless…
So I study all about tarantulas, watching tarantula videos and reading everything I can about them after all I was taking on a new pet, not just a magic prop. Let’s just say, sleeping wasn’t easy. I then buy a tarantula and have 4 weeks to train with it and get over my fear of spiders…
AGT producers were almost more excited about this act then we were, but no one knew just how crazy this would get! After a month of handling the spider, from letting it crawl on my hands and arms, to letting it crawl on my face knowing that I’d eventually have to put it in my mouth. The weight of the world was on my shoulders as Joel, Spidey and the producers were counting on this. The night before filming, was the first time I put the spider in my mouth as a test and my hands are shaking as I type this just thinking about it…
…The Surrealists are on the America’s Got Talent stage, It’s intense and we don’t want the judges asking me questions as I wouldn’t be able to speak, so Joel and Spidey go out to confront the judges without me. I’m in the wing and Nick Cannon is right over my shoulder. I hear Simon Cowell say, Ok start (that’s my cue to get the spider in my mouth). Spidey and Joel explain to the audience that there’s actually another member of the group. I put the spider in, but it falls on it’s back on my tongue and the legs are scrambling against the roof of my mouth, I gently spit it out into my hands. Spidey, “can everybody give Joseph an encouraging round of applause to get him out here” I try to reload the spider as everyone’s waiting on me but it happens again, the spider is on it’s back in my mouth with the legs scrambling, I gently get it out and the third time is a charm! There’s over 3,000 people, 13 plus TV cameras and the celebrity judges!
Spidey talks about fears, “Glossophobia the most common fear in the world the fear of public speaking, this is what Joseph suffers from”
Joel, “Xenophobia, the fear of the unknown. Mel B, put your hand in the bag and tell me what you feel.” She feels a rope and he pulls out a live snake and places it on the panel. Mel B freaks out, “WHAT THE F*#K!” and runs out the building.
Producers take about 5-6 minutes to convince her to come back and each one of those minutes felt like an hour with the tarantula in my mouth! Spidey has Nick Cannon come out to select a card. Each card has a different phobia written on it. Before Nick announces his phobia I make my way to the judges and Spidey say’s, “What if we told you, we knew what your phobia would be from the very beginning?!”
Joel says, “That’s right, we lied to you in the beginning of the act. Joseph doesn’t actually suffer from stage fright!” Music comes on and I slowly open my mouth letting the tarantula crawl out onto my hand and into a clear acrylic container. Mel B and Heidi Klum jump up and run, Simon with his jaw dropped and Howie freaking out with 3,000 plus people screaming with their hands over their mouths!
Producers asked us to create a shocking television moment, we thought we had a firecracker to create a reaction, no one would have ever guest that we were holding a stick of dynamite that created one of the most shocking and craziest moments in AGT history.
Check out more about Joseph on Social Media!