Thank heavens for America’s Got Talent. Before, our country only got to honor singers and dancers on reality-based television. Now, we’ve got everything – ventriloquists, magicians, and dudes who don’t know where stages end. But before you dust off your old clarinet from middle school, let’s see what you’d be up against if you decided to audition on YouTube.
This season’s second episode takes place at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. “The man who hates germs”, Howie Mandel, finds himself getting mauled by the audience after getting lost on his way over. “This is like a nightmare. Just don’t touch me, please!” he announces to the screaming audience of people who couldn’t care less about his personal space. He joins his cohorts, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan, in the judges pen.
First act up is a comic named Melissa Villasenor, 23. Despite working at a retail store, comedy is her passion. She starts off with an impression of Barbara Walters interviewing Natalie Portman. Decent. Next up is Miley Cyrus, which sounds a bit more like an impersonation of SNL-newcomer Vanessa Bayer’s rendition of Ms. Cyrus. Regardless, the audience can’t get enough of her, and the judges agree: This girl is a winner. I wasn’t overly impressed, but for some reason, nobody asked me for my opinion. Melissa makes it to Vegas.
After Nick Cannon interacts with a screaming color-tornado of hopefuls, we are introduced to Andrew and Charles – The A&C Twins. The two were inspired by not Chris Brown, but the opening act of Chris Brown. Good thing that their “talent” of talking in unison won the audience over, because their singing sure didn’t. Piers makes a point to also mention their awkward swaying, yet the twins get another chance to screech out ‘My Girl’ when they call Howie a “hater”, and challenge him to sing better.
Liz Plummer and Robert Close are up next, and make sure that the world knows they aren’t married. Their disgust at the sheer idea must be a true selling point to all potential relationships of the future. It could have been Robert’s suspenders, but the two are booed off stage within seconds.
Figuring out the audience response for the Rice Rockettes was a bit tougher. “Ooh”s and “Boo”s made for a sea of noise, which turned into a sea of “No”s for these Drag Troupe dancers. Mr. Mystic PTP had a similar reaction, for… lighting a pan on fire? I still can’t truly figure out what his gameplan was, besides – as Piers notes – “stupid”.
After a commercial, we meet 69-year-old Anita McCoy, a multiple hula hooper and baton twirler who seems to lose the crowd over a cartwheel, and INSTANTLY win them back with a split. I’m a bit impressed, I must say. While Sharon and Piers vote no, I gain instant respect for Howie who has faith in her. Unfortunately, she’s still out of the running. And, spoiler alert! I lose that respect for Howie by the end of the show.
Zuma Zuma is a group of acrobats from Kenya, who promise that they won’t get hurt, despite lacking mats. All of my respect for Anita McCoy flies out the window, when I see one member jump roping with the sheer power of their back end. The performance ends with a flawless, extremely tall human pyramid. Can people seriously move like that? Quite honestly, if I warmed up to bend in a Zuma Zuma-esque fashion, someone will have to drive me to the hospital.
Uh oh. Next up is a band of children! 12 to 16-year-olds, to be more specific. Nick Cannon introduces us to PopLyfe, who make sure to say “what’s up!” to Seattle and hug each other in immense celebration before they even talk into the microphone. Positive energy. I like that, you guys. The band’s sole girl sings about wanting to be a millionaire, “so freaking bad”. And shockingly, the band doesn’t suck. Quite the opposite, really. The judges are all over our little lady hero – Piers actually going far enough to say that she should ditch the group completely. She retaliates by saying that the electric set better utilizes the band, yet that still isn’t enough for Piers. “My opinion is whether it’s just you, or your band.” She sticks to her guns, and makes it through thanks to a yes-vote from Sharon. If they don’t make it far, I’m probably going to end my recapping career due to a “drive-by-remote-throwing” to my TV set.
Little Sadie, 8, is the next singer we see. Despite the fact that I can’t understand one word she’s singing, she gets three yesses, and makes it through. And the montage of good contestants continues! We’ll reunite with them later in the season, I’m sure.
Mauricio Herrera, a showman who has been in the spotlight since the age of twelve, looks vaguely like Jim Carrey dressed in a figure skating costume. He starts his show by flailing around to some Ricky Martin, which almost instantly gets an “X” by Piers. Mauricio ends his song by joining the audience, smack dab in front of the judges. While attempting to serenade Sharon, Sharon is less than amused. Howie likes him solely since his cheesiness made him “funny”, and begs Sharon to agree – like, seriously. Howie is so set on seeing this dude again in Vegas. While Piers looks mortified, Sharon looks panicked, and as the drumroll towards her response starts and she mutters a yes. “Tell Howie Mandel that war has been declared,” says Piers, before the next commercial break.
Next up is a one-man band (always a crowd pleaser!), who specializes in the paper horn. Paper Horn Man pulls out a tooth before wowing the crowd, all while wearing a gold, plastic raincoat. Piers is so outraged that he presses Sharon’s “X”, which she actually seems a bit perturbed about. However, so offended by the musical stylings of paper horn musicians, Piers leaves his seat and is missing during judging. “Legally Piers has to be here to do his own voting,” Nick Cannon announces while Howie tries to sabotage the vote. Nick and PHM go into a killer duet to waste time, when we find Piers backstage, angrily checking his e-mail. Reluctantly, he rejoins his group.
Piers gives a speech about how sometimes the audience is right, and he’s wrong. It seems earnest, before he ended with how this “wasn’t one of those occasions.” Piers votes no, walks back offstage, and into my heart. Seriously.
Howie and Piers stage a fight by their dressing rooms, and it’s obviously that this fake feud of “I love campy performances” v. “Am I the only one who tries to take this seriously?” will continue for some time. At least until tomorrow’s episode.
Photo Credit: NBC.com