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Stupefying TV auditions The mildly funny, the sort of gross and the just plain weird try out for a spot on the David Letterman show

James Scott thinks blowing up balloons with his nose may be his ticket to fame and fortune -- or at least a brief appearance on late-night TV.

The 16-year-old Niagara Falls High School student was among about 30 people and animals that tried out Saturday for a spot on the "Stupid Pet Tricks" or "Stupid Human Tricks" segments of "The Late Show with David Letterman."

There were assorted contortionists, sound effects experts and jumping animals.

But the audience at Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls seemed especially impressed with Scott, who inflated a 7-inch blue balloon by blowing through his left nostril. He then placed a red balloon against his right nostril and inflated them simultaneously.

Scott said he discovered he could do this about two years ago.

"We were home, decorating for some kid's First Communion, and we got bored," was how he described his moment of discovery.

On that occasion, he blew up a 13-inch balloon with his nose, so the two 7-inchers were child's play.

He has used his ability to hustle people out of money by winning bets -- "I'm out with friends and sometimes we decide to make a quick dollar," he said -- but nasal balloon inflation may lead to a career.

"I was planning to go to Barnum & Bailey Circus to be a clown," Scott said.

Kimberly Czwojdak of North Tonawanda also demonstrated an unusual ability. The 24-year-old former dancer placed her palms on the floor and rotated both of her wrists 360 degrees without her hands leaving the floor.

"It's a good party trick," said Czwojdak, who works in business banking at Bank of America. "I like grossing people out. It's fun."

In the animal category, Robert Power of Wheatfield presented Plucky, a 2-year-old hen, who jumps to grab a small piece of bread out of his mouth and eats it when she hits the ground.

The black-and-red chicken did this successfully three times.

"She's intelligent. She comes when you call her," said Power, who said he has 13 free-range chickens at home.

Jerry Galus of Kenmore had less luck with Dylan, his 11-year-old parrot.

The green bird refused to sing "You Are My Sunshine" despite another parrot owner and a good chunk of the audience singing the tune over and over to try to prompt him. Dylan merely squawked a few times.

Some real musical entertainment was provided by Eric Henderson, 17, a Clarence High School student who played the "William Tell Overture" by drumming his fingernails on his teeth.

Eric said his concert repertoire also includes the "Mexican Hat Dance," "La Cucaracha" and "Deck the Halls."

He said he discovered his talent in seventh-grade English class. Far from discouraging the young prodigy, an assistant principal, Sharon Weber, signed him up for the Letterman audition.

He said he uses only four teeth in his performances. "You just change the size of your mouth inside. It changes the notes," Eric explained.

Tim Bentley of Ransomville, a 46-year-old forklift operator at Nuttall Gear Co., did a convincing impression of the sound of a chain saw.

"You take a deep breath and you put all the pressure on your cheeks and keep your lips wet. You've got to keep your stuff moist," Bentley explained.

There were no guarantees that any of the local entrants would be deemed worthy of a spot on Letterman's show, according to Marie Dabney, a sales and promotion coordinator for Buffalo's WIVB-TV, which carries the show.

"The last time we did this [about five years ago], we got a person on the show. It was a woman with a fish that jumped when she called," Dabney said.

The videotape of Saturday's audition will be sent to CBS, where a producer will screen it and decide if any of the locals are worthy of being flown to New York City in February for a "Stupid Pet Tricks" or "Stupid Human Tricks" appearance.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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