Local comedian Don McMillan, 62, made it past the audition round on the 17th season of “America’s Got Talent.” McMillan received a yes from judges Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel, an idol of McMillan’s.
Growing up, McMillan was always cracking jokes with others and watching comedians on TV, such as Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and George Carlin.
“Some would say since I came out of the womb,” said McMillan, in reference to his time being a comedian.
McMillan’s interest in comedy was spiked at 17 when he went to a comedy club with a friend of his who had signed up for an open mic. After watching him on the stage, McMillan thought, “anybody can do this.”
However, McMillan didn’t go straight into comedy.
He became an engineer and even worked his way up to a manager position. Outside of work, he would indulge himself in the comedy scene by signing up for an improv comedy class and learning everything he could about it.
“I did the typical engineering thing,” said McMillan. “I studied it. I researched it.”
After he put off getting onto the stage, his improv teacher signed him up for a Wednesday open mic.
“I fell in love with comedy that night,” said McMillan.
When he had won a San Francisco comedy competition and booked a national commercial for United Airlines in the same week, he took it as a sign to finally take the jump and pursue comedy full-time.
“I did one audition for one commercial, and I got it, and I thought, well, this is easy,” said McMillan. “How hard is this?”
He told his boss that he was quitting to pursue a career in comedy and rather than being upset with him, he stood up, gave him a big smile and told him how “tremendous” he thought it was.
McMillan has ever since been a comedian for the past 30 years.
He travelled quite a bit for comedy gigs, but when his son was born in 2003, he made the decision to only perform locally.
“I’m gonna watch my son grow up,” said McMillan.
Once his son had grown up and left for college this past September, McMillan saw a way to make his dream of performing for thousands of people come true – audition for “America’s Got Talent.”
“They’re helping me have a second part to my life now that my son’s grown up,” said McMillan.
McMillan’s audition aired Tuesday, July 26, on NBC and he captivated the audience, and judges, with his comedy via PowerPoint presentation.
“The stakes are huge,” said McMillan. “And when you get that first laugh, I can’t describe it other than it’s like immediate acceptance. When people are laughing, it’s immediate acceptance and it’s like being bathed in unity. It’s just fantastic.”
McMillan’s unique PowerPoint comedy originates from his time emceeing a national sales meeting for a technology company. A man had given a PowerPoint presentation that McMillan described as, “incredibly bad.” McMillan decided to take it into his own hands, with permission, and take the slides and make them a funny act, poking fun at the presenter. The audience absolutely loved it.
From then on, he has been utilizing PowerPoint presentations to visualize his comedy. He even created a PowerPoint presentation entitled, “Life After Death by PowerPoint,” where he comedically explained how not to use PowerPoint. This presentation alone has been used in many classrooms at various academic levels.
“It was the one thing that made me different than most comics,” said McMillan.
This proves to be true, as Howie Mandel said, “You are going to be remembered as the guy who presents his act as a PowerPoint presentation.”
His PowerPoint comedy won the laughter of the judges and got him three “yes” votes to move on to another week on “America’s Got Talent.”
“It didn’t really come across, but I got a little teary-eyed when I was up there,” said McMillan. “Just the fact that it went so well and that maybe this could open some doors. The whole world opens up when you get that first laugh.”
Viewers can watch McMillan perform live on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday, Aug. 9, on NBC at 8 p.m. PT/ET. Viewers will also have the chance to vote for McMillan after the show at NBC.com/AGTVote or via the “AGT” app.