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‘America’s Got Talent’ advances Stony Point's Tom Cotter to semifinals

Thursday July 12, 2012 10:29 AM - By Chris Serico Newsday Rockland County stand-up comedian Tom Cotter appeared emotional Wednesday night after earning a spot in the semifinals of the NBC talent show, "America's Got Talent.”

Cotter, a 48-year-old Stony Point resident, buckled his knees when host Nick Cannon announced he’d made it. “Blown away,” responded Cotter, shaking his head. “Just completely blown away.”

Photo credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC NBC

Sharon Osbourne, one of the show’s three judges, approved of how American viewers voted. “You know I’ve loved [Cotter] from the beginning,” she said. “I’m so happy for you, Tom, and your family. I really am happy. Congratulations. You deserve it.”

Like Osbourne, Howard Stern and Howie Mandel have been fans of Cotter since his initial audition, and Tuesday night’s performance was no different.

“I know what this must feel like,” said Mandel to Cotter, one stand-up comic to another, on Tuesday. “The pressure is tremendous, but you do not show it, sir.”

In agreement was Stern, who knows what it’s like to try to make a living in comedy in the Hudson Valley; the shock-jock kicked off his radio career at a station in Briarcliff Manor.

"You're the man to beat," Stern told Cotter on Tuesday. "You know how to take a crowd in 90 seconds and win them over. You're phenomenal."

A Rhode Island native, Cotter has performed standup for more than 20 years, and won several competitions at comedy festivals, including ones in Seattle, Boston and Las Vegas. But he’s said he hopes “America’s Got Talent” will give him the big break that has eluded him.

Before Cotter’s result was televised, “America’s Got Talent” showed a backstage clip of him with his wife and three children. “This is so important to me,” he said. “I’ve worked so hard for this. I want America to vote me through, more than anything in the world.”

Less fortunate was Rockland rock band The All Ways, which failed to earn enough viewer votes to make it to the semifinals after performing a cover of Lady Gaga's "Telephone." But the band might not be done just yet; judges and viewers might pick them to advance in the competition’s wild-card round in a few weeks.

The winner of "America's Got Talent" receives a $1 million prize and a chance to perform in Las Vegas.