PEABODY, Mass. — Anthony Denucce was in fourth or fifth grade when he discovered he had a unique talent.
“I was taking a test, and you know how some people just sit there and tap their pencils thinking of answers?” he said. “I would tap on my teeth or flick my teeth with my tongue or fingers. I realized if I moved my tongue or moved my lips, I could make different pitches.”
Denucce soon learned to play songs by tapping on his teeth. Now 46, his repertoire includes “tons of Disney stuff, the Muppets, Camila Cabbello.”
Denucce recently took his musical teeth to Pasadena, California, where he performed for Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell and Sofia Vergara on the NBC reality television show “America’s Got Talent.” Denucce isn’t certain when his episode will air. The season premiere was Tuesday, June 1.
Denucce, a mailman for the past 24 years, said his friends often ask him to tap out a song. In 2004, he played on the “Stupid Human Tricks” segment of the “Late Show with David Letterman.” He then scored a regular gig performing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” twice a year for an area minor league baseball team, the Lowell Spinners.
Late in 2020, Denucce he was inspired to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”
“Here was my thinking: We were in a pandemic, and I said, ‘I might as well give this a shot,’” he said. “There’s a lot of people stuck inside watching TV, and this is my opportunity to bring something for people to laugh and smile about.”
After two rounds of Zoom auditions, Denucce flew to California to audition in front of a live audience and celebrity judges. Contestants spent several days in California, Denucce said, taking part in photoshoots, commercial shoots and social media campaigns.
One of the most fun parts of the week, he said, was meeting actor and “America’s Got Talent” host Terry Crews.
“That guy is so fun,” Denucce said. “He is energetic, and he makes you feel calm before you take the stage. He seems sincere in trying to get to know about you.”
Denucce said even though he’s nervous to watch his performance on television, he’s looking forward to seeing the show with his two biggest supporters — his wife, Sara, and his 14-year-old daughter, Ava.
“My daughter says what I do fits me because … I’m quirky and my act is kind of strange, so it fits,” he said. “She’s been my biggest supporter through this. She’s always there.”
Erin Nolan writes for The Salem (Mass.) News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org