By KAITLIN DURBIN
DANVILLE — Whoever said fame isn’t something you can just jump into doesn’t know Anthony Staubs.
Staubs, a Danville resident locally known as “Tone,” pogoed his way to fame Wednesday on national talent show “America’s Got Talent.”
Joined by Biff Hutchison,15, of Idaho, Jake Gartland, 18, of Michigan, and Fred Grzybowski, 22, of Ohio, Staubs and his team, Team Xpogo, won the audition round of AGT and the chance to perform in Las Vegas for the prize of $1 million.
“I’m trying to get pogoing on the map — we all are,” Staubs said. “[Team Xpogo] wants kids everywhere to ride pogo sticks and we want to show them that it’s not lame; it’s different and unique.”
Despite admittedly being considered unique by the AGT judges Howie Mandel, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, Team Xpogo did not immediately win the favor of the panel.
“Howie really liked us, but Piers didn’t,” Staubs recalled.
Morgan “X’d” the group 10 seconds into their act.
“[The buzzer] freaked me out.” Staubs said. “I didn’t know what was going on at first; but I kept going — I knew we still had two more X’s.”
Needing approval from only two of the three judges to advance to Vegas, and with Morgan refusing to answer and Mandel’s adamant “yes,” Team Xpogo’s fate was left to Osbourne.
Despite Sharon deeming the act as impressive, the foursome almost lost their chance at Vegas when she told member Grzybowski that he talked too much.
“She didn’t want to put us through because of Fred, so I took the mic from him and promised her he wouldn’t talk in Vegas if she sent us through. She agreed,” Staubs said with a laugh.
The audience, on the other hand, was wowed by the group, chanting “Vegas” after Xpogo’s first trick.
“It was cool to hear the crowd’s reaction and know that they took a liking to [pogo sticking],” Staubs said. “It exceeded my expectations.
“The crowd was so loud we couldn’t hear our own music. We received five standing ovations.”
Those who watched the televised show may have noticed that not only did Staubs and his team reveal their pogo sticking talent, but they revealed their pogo “bods” to the judges as well.
Without the network airing the entire segment, viewers were left clueless as to why Team Xpogo’s performance featured stripping; however, Staubs explains that when asked by the judges ?if the team would have anything further to offer at the Vegas competition Grzybowski answered “more tricks, pogo sticks stacked on pogo sticks, flips, jumps off obstacles, fire and all while shirtless,” Staubs recalled.
Morgan challenged them, questioning why they didn’t just go ahead and perform shirtless now.
“We were like ‘OK’ and ripped our shirts off,” Staubs said.
Though the segment aired Wednesday, Staubs and his team filmed the segment two months ago. Thus, he was able to relive the experience by watching the performance on TV.
Despite the dramatic buildup to the segment (Team Xpogo’s talent was featured in AGT preview commercials), the group’s routine to “Jump” by Flo Rida received less than 30 seconds of airtime.
“They used half our act in the preview commercial to get viewers to watch the show, but then only aired like 20 seconds of the routine during the show,” Staubs said.
“I was disappointed that they cut [our segment] so short. We did a lot better tricks in the routine than they showed.”
Staubs, now 17, had not quite been pogo sticking four years when he auditioned for AGT. However, it was not his first performance, nor his first competitive entry.
As a two-year sponsored member of Vurtego, maker of higher performance pogo sticks, Staubs has performed in multiple states and venues.
Competitively, Staubs has competed in Pogopalooza, a gathering of extreme pogoers from the United States, Canada and England, in which he placed third in the technical competition.
He is also scheduled to perform in New York City during their Fourth of July parade on Sunday, and again in Rhode Island on Monday.
Then, Staubs will travel for two weeks to different summer camps, performing and teaching other children how to pogo.
“I want people to see me and want to try it,” he said.
He hopes his sharing of talents will inspire others to join the sport of pogo sticking, much like a fellow pogoer inspired him.
Staubs had played on a pogo as early as 8 years old. It was used for nothing more than last resort entertainment as he tried to maintain his balance for as many consecutive jumps as possible — at least more than his friends.
It wasn’t until he happened across a MySpace video of Grzybowski performing pogo tricks that Staubs started to take pogo sticking seriously as a sport. He was 13.
“I went out that same day and bought this pogo stick [holding up a yellow, confettied, child-size pogo stick]. I told my friends we could do those easy tricks, but it wasn’t easy after all. They lost interest, but I never did.”
Then, when Staubs moved to Danville from Florida, he found out that the very Grzybowski that led him to pogo sticking in the first place two years prior lived 40 minutes away.
Staubs traveled the distance to meet his pogo inspiration.
The acquaintanceship not only led Staubs to new tricks and a friendship with Grzybowski, but the chance to perform with the very person that sparked it all for Staubs on AGT.
In an interview with 10 TV Sports, unrelated to his appearance on AGT, Staubs was questioned to be the next Tony Hawk of pogo sticking.
Staubs commented with a modest “maybe,” but after Wednesday’s airing of “America’s Got Talent,” America is saying yes.
Staubs may not have experienced his full 15 minutes of fame on AGT, but 20 seconds was all he needed to make a lasting impression.
“It was a fun experience,” Staubs said. “It got [Team Xpogo] noticed and it’s going to promote the sport — that’s all that matters.”
Airing of the Las Vegas competition begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.