I'll say one thing about the denizens of South Carolina that showed up to audition for "Idol": what they lacked in skill, they more than made up for in self-confidence.

Take, for example, Crystal and Randy, a couple of lovebirds who first encountered each other on the "Idol" message boards — where Randy supposedly doles out advice for future hopefuls about the audition process.

Yes, a guy who tells people how to make it onto the show auditioned as half of a duet (always a risky move), delivering a performance that Simon accurately called "complete torture." If that's not a case of the deaf leading the deaf, then I don't know what is.

Also consider Richard — stage name "Raysharde" — a cheerful guy with an enormous afro who was inexplicably convinced that he sounded like "the black Clay Aiken" — and Aretha, who protested furiously when the judges criticized her.

I actually didn't think Aretha was as bad as our trio did — and I had to feel for the girl, since a name like that would make anyone feel enormous pressure to be a great singer — but I was starting to come around to their side when she refused to stop telling them how talented she was and how wrong they were long after the conversation should have ended.

(Defend yourself once and I'll respect you if you do it in a cute way, but when we're getting into the fourth and fifth times, you're just making me glad you won't be televised further.)

Then there was Joshua, whose objections started off mild ("I haven't had any voice training"), veered into accusatory ("This show is fake and rigged") and finally settled on defamatory ("I'm a good person and you're not").

Also giving the judges some feedback on their feedback was Amy, a high school dance captain who, in her spare time, gives lectures about abstaining from sex and who told Simon that she found his criticism to be "a bit much." I found her to be a bit much — as did Simon, who accurately told her that a lot of people would find her annoying.

Proving that self-assurance wasn't only a negative quality was Jeffrey, who sauntered into the audition room with his sister Michelle, amusingly explained how his outfit (which included a tie around his forehead) was inspired by all of the judges and then gave R. Kelly a run for his money.

And while interesting storylines (She flies planes for the Air Force! His wife had a baby right when he was supposed to audition!) couldn't save Lyndsey or Oliver, they both managed to get out of the room without griping too much, for which I was extremely grateful.

Next stop is Nebraska, where we can only hope they know the definition of humility.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.