Gary Vider hopes that his days as a dog walker may soon be over, especially if he's the top dog on "America's Got Talent."
The Dix Hills native is one of the 10 finalists on the NBC talent competition, where he's been winning over the show's judges and viewers with his dry, sarcastic brand of stand-up comedy. He'll perform one more time Tuesday at 8 p.m.; the winner, who will receive $1 million, will be revealed on Wednesday's finale at 9 p.m.
Vider, 31, started doing comedy seven years ago when he realized a 9-to-5 job would never be a good fit for him. "I always wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted, and comedy gives me the freedom to just go around and be me. I'm my own boss," he says.
Though he's performed at Governor's, McGuire's and The Brokerage on Long Island, as well as in top Manhattan spots -- Carolines on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club -- Vider has been a professional dog walker to supplement his income.
"You're only able to make a good living from comedy if you're a headliner, and that takes a bunch of years to make happen," Vider says. " 'America's Got Talent' has given me that opportunity to move on and maybe be a headlining act around the country."
For his comedy, Vider draws on his life, from his day job to his roommate. "The joke usually starts slow then builds up, and the punch line is usually a little bit different from what the audience might be thinking is coming," he says.
Vider sent "AGT" producers an audition video in February. He was asked to try out in person but couldn't make the date. Producers were so impressed with his video, they advanced him to the initial audition round that aired on television. Since then, he's been a favorite with viewers, who voted him through every round.
Though he'd like to win the money, Vider is most excited that millions of people have gotten to discover his comedy.
"Nothing bad will come from this experience and I feel very fortunate to make it as far as I have," Vider says. "I never wanted to think that I couldn't, but it's definitely awesome to know that I did."