Cotter’s Got Talent

Stony Point resident has America in stitches

BY VINNY MURPHY

As one of the top shows on television, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” has been proving its title’s claim for seven seasons. With the current season nearing its end and the first group of final three competitors chosen, it appears something else has also been proven: Rockland County’s Got Talent.

Comedian and Stony Point resident Tom Cotter caught the attention of America on August 28, in part by allowing series judge Howie Mandel to choose the topic on which he performed. Out of the choices presented on the NJPAC’s giant video screen, Mandel selected college, citing that he had never been. In front of a live audience including his own father and the millions at home, Cotter began what he acknowledged to be the most important performance of his life.

The set was well received by both the audience and the three celebrity judges, a group also including Sharon Osborne and Howard Stern. The next night, it was confirmed that Cotter would be moving on to the final round. On September 12, amongst an Earth harpist, a sand artist and others, Cotter will compete for $1 million. The next three finalists will be chosen this week.

This success of a local talent on a major TV competition comes only a few months after Jermaine Paul, of Rockland and Orange Counties, won the hugely popular singing contest “The Voice.”

Though Cotter’s run on “AGT” has affirmed him as a national star, with Mandell even calling him “the classic comedian,” the Stony Point funny man has had a long and impressive career. A graduate of Dennison University, where he considered pursuing a legal career, Cotter would soon move to Boston in 1988 to begin his comedic journey.

Though initially maintaining various day jobs, Cotter was soon in demand and was able to practice and perfect his craft.

Tom first achieved notoriety after winning the 1994 Seattle International Stand Up competition and earning himself a successful national college tour. Soon after in 1995, he moved to New York to take advantage of the area’s legendary stand-up scene. He would quickly become a regular in many of the city’s comedy clubs.

Since then, Cotter has appeared on TV countless times, both as a comedian and an actor. Along with frequent commercial work, some of his credits include “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno “and the Miramax feature film “Next Stop Wonderland,” starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

He appeared in his own Comedy Central special in 2004, and on many of their stand-up showcases over the years. In 2006, Cotter along with his comedian wife Kerri Louise launched reality show “Two Funny,” which ran for one season on cable’s WE Network. The show centered on the careers of both comedians, and how it affected their family life. In 2008, he even appeared on the annual Barbara Walters Special.

Though Tom Cotter is certainly no rookie in show business, every entertainer looks for their moment of perfection. Winning “America’s Got Talent ” would not only bring him a $1 million prize, but the type of notoriety achieved only by the elite in his field.

If you’d like to cheer on our hometown hero, tune in to NBC for the two-night finale airing on September 12 and 13 at 8 p.m.