America's Got Talent Review: While Some Lucky Contestants Go to Vegas, Howie and Piers Go to War!
On Week 2 of America’s Got Talent, we are told by host Nick Cannon, as he yells from atop another ridiculous monument, that America is the “land of the free, home of the best talent in the world!!!” Relax there, Cannon. Although I’m sure you’ve got some good enough talent to show us on your little tv show, I wouldn’t go claiming world domination just yet. There are a lot of other countries out there. There’s room for everyone. After a quick review of last week’s episodes and antics, that Nick screamed at us from high atop a giant building (making me wish he would topple over), the show began right away with the introduction of the three judges into the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington. Each judge enters dramatically from the back of the large theatre, slapping hands and receiving a lot of love from the audience members. This, is, of course, a nightmare for the OCD-germophobic Howie Mandel, who begs the audience to please “stop touching me!” Cannon, while introducing Howie Mandel, says: “he loves people, but he hates germs!” Yes, Cannon. We know. You made that joke already last week. Are you going to make it every single week? Is this the kind of high-quality comedy we can expect from you? Just wondering.
There were a lot of great auditions in this week’s episodes, but in the end, all of that fell short to the hilarious entertainment that occurs when Howie Mandel and Piers Morgan fight, disagree, and generally get on each others’ nerves. This general distaste for one another began last season, but it seems early on in season six, they are taking it up a notch. Is it real? Do they really dislike one another? I think they have a very different approach to pretty much everything, and what Howie finds funny, Piers finds annoying, and vise versa. Do I think they amplify that purposely to create camera tension? Of course they do! But they do it very well, because it is incredibly entertaining. Here is what I think went on in the producers’ office over at AGT before the show began:
Producers: So, the fans seem to love it when you two bicker. Let’s play that up this season. Let’s take it up a notch, really have fun with it. Get people talking.
Howie: Why are you standing so close to me? Please move back a step.
Producers: Sorry Howie. You in?
Howie: Yes. Yes I am. Annoying Piers more than I already do sounds fun.
Piers: I don’t understand why it’s humorous, because I don’t comprehend simple humor and I’m pompous and British and above it all, but if it will get me more Twitter followers and get people to watch my show, then I’m all for it. But Howie’s not funny.
Producers: Save it for the cameras Piers.
Sharon: What do I do? Whats my role in all this?
Producers: Take sides. Try not to at first, but then pick a side. Maybe change your mind a couple times. Sympathize with them both when they bicker. It’ll be great.
Ryan Seacrest: …and then I’ll come out and really play up the whole argument thing, and the audience will applaud loudly at seeing me, and ….
Producers: Get the hell out of here, Seacrest! You’re not even on this show!
Seacrest: (hanging foundation-caked head in shame) Sorry. I just need attention. I am only on 17 shows this week. Daddy never hugged me. (sobs)
So that is what happened. Allegedly. The results of that conversation are the extremely entertaining moments and banter between Piers and Howie that took over a good portion of this week’s shows. But much more on that later. Right now, let’s talk about some of the audition highlights:
MEMORABLE MOMENTS / SEATTLE:
* Melissa Villasenor, a comedian and Impressionist, wowed the crowd with her fantastic imitations of Kathy Griffin, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, and Natalie Portman. Her own personality was also very quirky and likeable, and the impressions were very good, for the most part. Once again though, I feel this audience was fed crack cakes , because they got WAY too excited over this woman’s performance, giving her not one, but TWO standing ovations in the middle of her act. Really? Two? Come on. She did a few impressions people. Have you never seen good talent before? I honestly think they grab their audiences out of prisons, mental institutions, and people who have never seen any form of entertainment before. The way the audience overreacts to the simplest things on this show is astounding. It makes The Apollo look like a public library. Obviously, Melissa got through to Vegas.
*A&C Twins: These were two identical twin adult brothers, who were singers. Well, they called themselves singers. In reality, they had no rhythm, no pitch, and terrible harmony. They sang “My Girl” as a duet, and they did a very basic and rather lame dance step to it, which consisted of them swaying back and forth , offbeat of course, to their lame voices. When all three judges gave them the X, and then Howie said they couldn’t sing, the men insisted that Howie was a “hater”, and told him they could sing better than him any day. Howie Mandel then got up onstage and did their routine with them; standing in the middle of them both and dancing the lame dance, and purposely singing badly with them, to perhaps show by example how awful they were. It was hilarious, but the twins didn’t seem to catch on, and left the stage with total attitude.
* Zuma Zuma, an acrobatic act from Kenya that consisted of a lot of adult men in zebra pattern outfits performing some really incredible acrobats, gymnastics, and stunts. I’m not sure how else to describe this act except to say that it was really, really good. I want to see more. Vegas!
*Poplife was a kid-band made up of 5 boys and 1 girl, who was the lead singer. The boys played guitar, drums, and synth, and their sound was original, raw, and really “street.” The girl’s voice was excellent and very pure, and Piers told her he would only put her through to Vegas without the band. I thought this was rather crappy, especially since all the bandmembers were talented. The girl told Piers “I dont go anywhere without my brothers.” Luckily she didn’t have to, because even though Piers did not put them through, Sharon and Howie both did. You’re goin’ to Vegas!
The next two acts are what started the showdown between Piers and Howie. It all began with a strange man named Mauricio Herrara, who referred to himself and his act as a “Showman.” Before he came onstage, we were shown numerous articles and things that suggested he was a big deal in his home country of Costa Rica. Then he came onto the stage. He was, quite frankly, pretty awful. It was almost like a parody of a Tony Clifton act, except it wasn’t funny at all. It was just bad. However, it WAS very cheesy, and very Vegas. I mean, if you’re looking for a cheesy, Vegas act, this guy is it. It’s like watching Tom Jones, with much less talent or pizazz. Same crappy suit and hair though. Anyway, Mauricio seemed to think he was the best thing the earth has ever seen, and played up his cheesiness to the crowd and judges, going over to their table and shaking his hips at Sharon as he sang badly. Piers goes first, and says no immediately, calling the act “horrendous.” Howie is next, and tells Piers and anyone else who will listen, that the act is “so silly, that it’s almost funny. Yes? Its Vegas! I think its perfect for Vegas!” He says yes, and at this point, it’s hard to tell if he really believes in this guy, who isn’t that great, or if he’s just putting him through as a goof to piss off Piers. Either way, it pisses off Piers, who starts to get this look on his face like he is seconds away from murder. This leaves the final decision up to Sharon, and Howie takes it upon himself to start begging her to put this douche through to Vegas. “Come on Sharon. Do it for me. For ME. Please. Please.” Piers, meanwhile, is on the other side, telling Sharon to not listen to Howie. Sharon listens to Howie, and says basically “Oh what the hell, put him through!” At this point, Piers gets up and walks out of the theatre, because he is angry and British. The cameras follow him, and before he shuts the door to his dressing room, he tells America: “Tell Howie that War is being declared!” This is when the true fun begins. Howie Mandel, who seems to get off on annoying the living crap out of Piers (and I gotta say I get off on watching him do it), gets a few stagehands to help him move a giant soda vending-machine directly in front of Piers Morgan’s dressing room door, so that he cannot get out or open it all the way. He then knocks on the door, telling Piers: “5 minutes to show!” When Piers opens the door a crack, he again tells Howie that he is not funny, and that he is “the most annoying person I have ever met.” Howie is amused, as am I. Doesn’t Piers understand that the more angry and annoyed he gets, the funnier it becomes? DUH! Silly British man.
The next audition is a man who plays homemade instruments using things like tennis balls, paper cups, and a big paperhorn made out of construction paper. He calls himself the “Paper Horn Man” and begins to play his instrument. It is a pretty lame routine, but not 100% awful, because his personality is kind of adorable. He is an older man, and he seems to be a simple one that just enjoys doing this in his spare time. Howie seems to be enjoying the act, Sharon is unfazed, and Piers seems annoyed at the fact that this man is even alive. He leaves the room again. At this point, Sharon and Howie vote without Piers. Sharon says no, Howie says yes, and then attempts to vote for Piers in his absence. Nick Cannon comes out and informs the judges that Piers, does, in fact, have to vote for himself, and therefore he will be back out shortly. Meantime, Nick and Paper Horn Man duet on the classic “When the Saints Go Marching In.” This mediocre but enthusiastic performance puts the audience into a trance and sends them reeling into hysterical, unexplainable applause. Upon Piers’ return, Howie attempts to explain what has transpired while he was in his office pouting, but Piers will have none of it, and sends Paper Horn Man home without a ticket to Vegas. Whew! I’m exhausted.
But wait!! There’s more!!! Howie follows Piers offstage, begging him to change his mind about his vote and send the man to Vegas. He won’t budge. A very interesting and entertaining dialogue between the two takes place in the elevator, where Piers asks Howie: “What if this had been the finals? Are you going to just put everyone through? Is this Howie Mandel’s America’s Worst Talent Show?” Howie asks Piers “you know what the opposite of FUN is? You!” to which Piers replies that their idea of what is FUN is very different. Piers goes into his dressing room angry and frustrated, and Howie goes into his laughing his ass off at his success in annoying Piers to this extent.
The next episode finds Nick Cannon screaming at us about “unleashing the talent,” this time from a hot air balloon in the sky. (Really?) We are then warned that everything is bigger in Texas (apparently so, from all the shots of fat people outside in the crowds), and ordered to stand back and beware of the massive talent about to unfold. Can you stand it?
MEMORABLE MOMENTS / HOUSTON:
* The Rhinestone Ropers, a “Wild West Skill Show”, consisted of a man and woman team. The woman was the target, so to speak, as the man tossed large sharp knives at her, just barely missing her body. (Nick Cannon, from the wings of the stage, pointing out “Wow, those are close!” Yet another genius observation from Cannon. ) The finale consisted of the man literally shooting his guns at the woman, again, all around her body, missing it only by inches. He then threw more knives, only this time, the woman was on a giant spinning wheel. Nick Cannon exclaimed into the camera: “She has to be dizzy.” Ummm. . .you think? They claim they are very good friends. That is some friend to stand there and almost get shot like that. I don’t think I could ever be that good of a friend. In any case, this act was dangerous, edgy, and extremely entertaining. All three agreed Yes to Vegas.
* Daniel Joseph Baker, a 19 year old cashier who had the personality of an annoying, obnoxious, self-proclaimed “fierce”, effeminate, too bubbly Glee wanna-be, but the vocals of an Angel. This kid can sing. He sang and played piano to a Lady Gaga tune, and the audience and judges loved him. I loved him too, but I just don’t want him to ever speak again. If he only sings and doesn’t ever talk EVER, than he should be fine. Excellent voice. Annoying personality. One of those people who comes across as a “character” more than an actual human being. Take it down a notch, kid. He went to Vegas.
*The Tron Guy. Not even sure how to explain this one, except to say it was a 50 year old fat man in a comic-book suit. Apparently he has Internet fame and is quite well known in cyberspace, and his “act” was telling us about that. Talk about boring. Howie, of course, egged him on by asking him to please start over each time he was X’ed by the other two judges. Eventually though, Tron Guy had to go back to his computer, and, probably, his mom’s basement.
*Sandou Trio Russian Bar just about gave me instant heart-failure with their high-risk, unbelievable, high wire, high bar act. It was acrobats, it was gymnastics, it was a woman tossing herself in the air and then landing atop a balance beam, over and over. It was stunning, and really like nothing I have ever seen before. I’m just not sure my heart can handle watching something like that, because I stop breathing worrying that she will land on her head and die, every time she flips in the air. AAAAHHH!!!!!!
* Dani Shay, a 22 yr old girl, who looks almost exactly like Justin Bieber, and plays guitar and sings, about looking and sounding like Justin Bieber. It was a funny and cute act, and yesses all around.
* ‘Lil Tanner, a 6. year old boy who danced his ‘lil heart out for his ‘lil girlfriend Abby at home. Okay, Ill stop saying ‘lil now. It’s enough already. He was cute, and he is going to Vegas. He is 6. When he is 20, it won’t be so cute. Right now though … cute.
* Darren Taylor, or “Professor Splash”, who jumped 26 ft. from a steel ladder into a children’s wading pool, 12 inches of water, the most dangerous act ever performed on the show, so they claim. He has broken his neck twice doing this, and says that the biggest side effect would be, of course, DEATH. Yes, death would suck. Nick Cannon stated for the crowd to “please do not try this at home.” Really Nick? Seriously? The lunatic man completed his act, and they of course, put him through to Vegas. My only question is, how on earth would this last for an entire Vegas show? Is he just going to jump into children’s pools over and over again? I mean, you watch it once, and its amazing, but it’s done. This was the big finale of the Seattle auditions. In the second hour of the second episode of the second week, (yes, this show aired THREE hours this week. . .Lord Help Me), the auditions moved to Minneapolis, where Piers Morgan was noticeably absent for awhile, as he was snowed in on his flight getting there from New York. Howie and Sharon had a great time without him, and commented on how positive and fun the experience was. He did return, of course, after missing a few key auditions, and right after Sharon observes “we don’t need him, and lets hope the network realizes that we don’t need him.” Ouch. She was kidding, of course, and Piers rejoined the show and immediately added his British -ness back in.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS / MINNEAPOLIS:
* Lys Agnes, a 27 year old woman, who stopped her dream to sing 2years ago after her fiance was killed in a car crash. After working retail, she quit her job and auditioned for the show, vowing to begin living her life again. This is one of those stories that is meant to tug at your heart strings, and it did its job. Her voice was incredible and touching, and her spirit emotional and real. Her performance of Ave Maria was beautiful, and her tears started flowing. Sharon got goosebumps, and Howie loved it. Piers was stuck in snow, and he’s British. She is goin’ to Vegas!!!
* Those Funny Little People was a hilariously odd act of “little people” dressed in very odd, strange, Christmas-like, sort of creepy-esque, munchkinlike costumes. They danced and lip-synced to Vanilla Ice, and it was very funny. I was laughing really hard, because it was so silly, and oddly entertaining. Piers, as usual, didn’t get it, and said rudely that it was “one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever had to sit through.” Howie found it scary, yet interesting, and voted yes simply because Piers hated it so fiercely. Sharon also voted yes , as she was laughing too. Piers then whined again about how he can’t believe they keep putting through “idiotic acts” to Vegas, and then took off to his dressing room to pout. Howie took that opportunity to bring the creepy Funny Little People to Pier’s dressing room, and let them all in, so they were surrounding him. This was perhaps one of the funniest things I have ever seen, Piers Morgan pouting in his dressing room with all these creepy little creatures around him whom he hates. As Howie enjoyed himself and offered the People a soda, Piers bellowed “Get out of my dressing room. Get out!” Hilarious.
* Walt Winston, a folk singer with an online website featuring all of his 71 hit songs, looked and sounded like a nerd. I am unsure who all of these fans are who are supposedly buying his albums, because he stinks. His self written song, “Truck Drivers Aren’t Supposed to Cry”, had a great hook and Nick Cannon forced it upon the audience by coming out and singing it with him. Even so, he didn’t get through to Vegas.
* The Silhouettes, a group of 38 kid dancers from Colorado ranging from age 8 to 18, whose entire dance routine takes place in silhouette. Think hand shadow puppets. Very different, very unique. The coolest part of this act is that they told a bunch of little stories in their dancing. Very beautiful, and quite brilliant actually.
* The Kenetic King, the creator of chain reaction gadgets, who builds all kinds of strange gadgets, and wears safety goggles and a helmet. An adult nerd who is “in between girlfriends”, he blew up the biggest stick bomb ever made in history for the judges. The only way to describe his act was that it was like a homemade, unique, colorful dominoes display. He is a total nerd, but knows what he is, and makes a joke of himself. Therefore, I like him. He is like a weird science experiment, doing weird science experiments. The best part is that he talks in the Fargo accent, where everything sounds like a question.
Speaking of questions, here are mine for this week’s episodes for you: Will Piers ever comprehend humor? Will Howie drive Piers to insanity, and if so, can that be a show? Do you think that America has talent, or just a bunch of weirdos so far? See you next week!
Season 6, Episodes 3 and 4: Audition Show (originally aired June 7 and June 8, 2011)
America’s Got Talent airs Tues/Wednesdays at 8pm EST on NBC.
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