UPDATE: Huggins has advanced to the next round, with three judges giving him the nod. (Only Mel B. offered up a no, saying she didn’t understand some of his jokes.)
Charming and immediately relatable, Houston comedian Andy Huggins is a maestro with a self-depreciative zinger. Take one of his classic opening lines: “This is a big evening for me...I’m auditioning for a gig. Not a showbusiness gig — Walmart is here looking for greeters.”
Now the waggish comic is getting his big break on national television in front of millions of viewers. Huggins will appear on the NBC ratings juggernaut America’s Got Talent on June 26, where he’ll perform for judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Mel B. “I have been doing stand-up for 40 years,” Huggins tells CultureMap. “Social Security got here before my prime-time television debut.”
What’s surprising is that it’s taken more than 40 years for this big break. While he may be a newcomer to America’s Got Talent audiences (who’re barraged with singers, contortionists, and the occasional cat show) Huggins is a veritable legend in the local comedy scene. The sixtysomething standup is a member of the hallowed Texas Outlaw Comics of the 1980s, its roster including Bill Hicks, Jimmy Pineapple, Riley Barber, Steve Epstein, and John Farneti. Huggins has opened for Ray Charles and rubbed elbows with the likes of Steve Martin and Robin Williams. In 2015, a group of comics and fans helped usher in Andy Huggins Day (September 6, 2015) in honor of his comedic works.
“Andy is a legend, a leader, and a role model for every comic in Houston,” says ESPN 97.5 afternoon host Barry Laminack, who is also a noted standup comic. “Nobody works harder or writes more often than Andy does.” Laminack’s praise even includes a statistical breakdown of the silly: “Mathematically, a lot of comics are doing really good if they can get four laughs a minute, each minute of their set,” he notes. “Andy’s probably getting upwards of seven to eight a minute — and for a 30-minute set, that's a lot of laughs. I’ve never seen him have a bad set. Never.”
Huggins, who is contractually mum for interviews before the June 26 broadcast, promises to unleash a flurry of funny when he takes the America’s Got Talent stage. But will he advance?
Former Saturday Night Live writer T Sean Shannon, a producer, director, and comic who’s also a Houston native, says that no matter the outcome or AGT vote, Huggins is a winner. “He’s a self-described ‘saloon comic’ who happens to be one of the best joke writers around,” says Shannon. “David Letterman always used to ask, ‘Hey, how’s Andy Huggins doing?’ The guy is just a genius.”
Andy Huggins takes America’s Got Talent stage at 7 pm on Tuesday, June 26 on NBC.