America's Got Talent – Houston and Minneapolis (Episodes 3 & 4)

On episode three of America’s Got Talent: Sharon, Piers, and Howie headed to Houston to officially mess with Texas, despite Texas giving them a clear warning not to.

First up tonight is a real cowboy! A cowboy with weapons! The Rhinestone Ropers consist of Dan and Melody, two very trusting friends. After all, when was the last time you trusted a friend with throwing knives while your body is strapped to a vertical roulette wheel? Melody is a real champ and so is the live audience. I probably would have run out, panic-stricken. Of course, such a triumphant act earns the Ropers a bid to Vegas.

Just like in yesterday’s episode, the second act is a pair of singing twins, this time named Mona Lisa. However, Mona Lisa successfully got a pass to Hollywood, without having to berate Howie on live television. Unfortunately, their talent is rarely showcased due to being the very start of the “winner’s montage”. For example, I would have loved to see Charles Peachock, the lit-up juggler, for more than 5 seconds, and the entire dance routine of the “sexy fun” Perfect Angelz.

As someone who always enjoys when a musician can successfully put a new spin on a popular song, I thought that 19-year old Daniel Joseph Baker put an amazing spin on Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. “I think I love you,” Sharon admits post-performance. Daniel Joseph Baker loves her as well. “And I love you even more, Daniel Joseph Baker!” I scream at my television, to no response. Even Piers loves this kid, which is rare. I kind of feel like I’m in on a big group hug, and can’t wait to see this guy in Vegas.

After a commercial break, we see an overabundance of cowboy hats. However, the image quickly dies when Jay Maynard, “The Tron Guy”, comes on screen. “Does Tron Guy have any ladies?” “Nope. No ladies at all,” Tron Guy admits, defeated. Before he even gets his second sentence out, Sharon X’s him and Tron Guy gets a bit flustered. He starts over once more, getting to his third sentence before a wave of audience boos gets in the way. After an even faultier third attempt, the judges decide to get this dude off the stage.

Despite being a tough act to follow, next up is Cassie Sandou, right out of San Antonio. Her mention of San Antonio gets 100% more applause than Tron Guy, which makes me wonder if Tron Guy should have reconstructed his act. “I’m The Tron Guy! SAN ANTONIO! Dallas! Can I get an Abilene?!” Cassie is in the Sandou Trio Russian Bar, which – for those of you unfamiliar with Russian Bar – includes flipping someone 9 bajillion feet in the air and having them land directly on a thin bar being held by two others (ie: the rest of Cassie’s trio). Shockingly and thankfully, Cassie doesn’t die on stage. The judges note how this may have been the most high risk act they’ve ever seen, and the Sandou Trio gets their ticket to Vegas.

After the commercial, we get a montage of celebrity impersonators, all which have a “try squinting, but you probably still can’t see it” resemblance to their idols. Status B.L.A.K includes a handful of guys who all fail at being Usher, followed by an offensive Howie Mandel impersonator. “For the first time, I didn’t like me!” Howie cries. Asian James Brown gets a similar negative reaction. And then, Justi— oh, nevermind. Dani Shay makes the joke that she isn’t Justin Bieber even before I could get the sentence out, since the resemblance is so uncanny. She’s a 22-year-old who is not only self-aware but has a killer sense of humor about the whole thing. “This face has always been mine,” she sings alongside the chorus of Beiber’s hit ‘Baby’. Three yesses!

Next up is 6-year-old Tanner Edwards, who is a big Nick Cannon fan. Tanner sports a Mohawk, and plans to out-dance every other person who auditions. He announces that he has a girlfriend named Abby and the crowd goes wild. “A 6-year-old with a girlfriend!” Hearts explode simultaneously. With sincerity, Howie forces Tanner to voice his feelings towards Abby to the camera before he busts his moves. And bust them he does. Tanner must have gotten his act straight from the Little Miss Sunshine handbook,  causing the audience to communicate only by Beatles-On-Ed Sullivan-esque shrieking. After massive praise, Tanner calls up Abby, who is extremely excited for his acceptance to Vegas. Be careful, Tanner. She’ll break your heart.

The episode concludes with the most dangerous act that the show has ever seen. Wait – didn’t you guys say that title belonged to the Sandou Trio? Did you forget about them? Tonight, Darren Taylor, “Professor Splash”, claims that he’ll be jumping from a 26-foot steel ladder into a children’s wading pool. Splash tells us that he’s had two broken necks, dislocated elbows and 5 broken heels in his past, yet it’s all been worth it. Piers, the sweetheart he is, asks if he’ll be safe. Splash admits he might not be and proceeds to be lifted up in the air. “Why are we doing this?” Nick Cannon mumbles into the microphone as the music gets tense. Splash dives. After a few seconds, he rises up from his baby pool. He’s okay! Piers asks him how much higher he could take the act, and Splash mentions that he’d break the world record, at 36 feet. Breaking a record on America’s Got Talent? See you in Vegas! Let’s get this guy to scrounge up some publicity!

Following America’s Got Talent is… another new episode of America’s Got Talent! The crew moves over to Minneapolis, which is absolutely empty due to spring blizzards. Everyone seems shocked but Howie, who is filmed en route wearing an overly appropriate winter hat.

Nick decides to give an announcement after Howie and Sharon take their spots on the podium – Piers is stuck in a blizzard! Howie reacts as if he won the World Series, until he hears the new rules. Instead of two “No’s” denying entrance to Vegas, only one will do it this time.

First up is Sarah Huft, with Echo – a 15-year-old Amazon parrot. Echo does a great job singing Old McDonald and impersonating chickens. Big deal. I do that all the time! Sharon doubts the realness of the bird and Howie makes sure it’s not a ventriloquist act. Let’s hope Echo doesn’t get stage fright in Vegas. As Sarah mentioned, there’s always the possibility that Echo will decide not to say a word. He is, after all, a bird.

Mrs. Smith is up next and she’s from Minneapolis. And boy, she can wail on an electric guitar. Howie puts her through solely to annoy the non-present Piers and does the same with the St. Lukes Bottle Band.  And The Halls of Magic. Pretty much everyone who walks on the stage without tripping is getting through tonight.

Lys Agnes hails from Denver, Colorado and has a desire to sing. Unfortunately, her dreams have been put on hold after her fiancé died in a car crash. It’s been two years since, and she feels like it’s time to move forward and sing again.  This girl has pipes like I never would have imagined, taking on the challenging ‘Ave Maria’. “My goodness me! Where did you come from?” Sharon asks. Lys starts to cry, saying how all she wants to do is sing. My goodness me, she even quit her job for this opportunity. Thankfully Sharon and Howie put her through – I mean, they put the Bottle Band through, so that wasn’t a huge shock.

After the two have the time of their life with tiny booty-shaking Viva La Muerte, it is revealed that Piers is on his way. I have a good feeling that the people dressed like gnomes wish they had an earlier timeslot. Those Funny Little People take the stage, and do a completely costumed version of ‘Ice Ice Baby’, which annoys Piers and scares Howie half to death. Regardless, Howie gives them a yes based on their freakish originality, and Sharon jumps on board as well. The gnomes decide to press the issue, by flocking to Piers’ dressing room after their performance. Gnomes in Vegas? Sounds like a Pixar film waiting to happen.

However, Piers reuniting with his team has led to a few rejections, like the 39-year-old but “7 in the brain” Gasmask 90 Seconds. (Credit goes to Sharon for the comeback), Miss Cherries Jubalie, whose talent is self-piercing, and Sid Yiddish, who performs an uncomfortable ballad.

Faux-Beatle Walt Winston believes that 2011 is the next 1964, and has recorded 28 albums in his 30 years of playing music. His song is called ‘Truck Drivers Aren’t Supposed to Cry’ and even Sharon thinks it’s a bust. Even though Walt won’t be going to Vegas, I’d definitely consider buying a ticket to any show where he collaborates with Nick Cannon, who makes a point to run on stage and defend his new-found friend.

The Silhouettes go on next – a group made up of 38 dancers between the ages of 9 and 18 . Their name is the perfect description of the art they create – silhouettes of trees, landmarks, and storybook situations. For the first time, I’m actually speechless. And not speechless in a “why would they risk their life for this?” way. Without a doubt, the group gets three well deserved yesses.

Our last contestant of the night is The Kinetic King who wears a tiny blue helmet, and works on chain reaction gadgets and exploding objects. The contraption tonight took 8 hours, and despite looking like his reaction gadget went off before he even finished his introduction, the real treat was yet to come. The gadget self-destructs! When asked why he’s wearing a towel and the aforementioned helmet, the King says that he “practices safe sticks”, noting that it’s a terrible joke. I love this guy! Send thee to Vegas!

And so ends the Minneapolis auditions. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I should have taken a liking to silhouette-making much earlier, and that if Howie ran the show, we’d all be the most talented people he’s ever seen.

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