The lead-in to America’s Got Talent is Celebrity Family Feud. After tonight’s episode, I just have to ask… when did Cody Gifford get so cute? Isn’t he like 12? Ahem. I’m assuming at some point in AGT we move on to the Las Vegas round, where we only watch decent performers (or performers that at least made it through the first round of auditions). Unfortunately, we’re still in the stage where we have to watch bat-poop crazy people show off their "talents." So far we’ve only visited NYC, LA and Chitown, so I’m hoping they’ll plumb the depths of the South and the Pacific Northwest eventually. Crazy people are everywhere, folks.
Faceless Announcer Voice tells us this competition is to find "the pride of America." I’m not so sure about that. We kick off tonight’s search in Dallas (yes! Southerners!) and our opening judges sequence is Dallas-themed, complete with their names in yellow block letters across the screen. Awesome. Please, please let David Hasselhoff be discovered in the shower by Victoria Principal.
Our first act of the night is Corky (oooh, too easy) and he is a line-dancer (you’re killin’ me, Smalls). "Cotton Eyed Joe" kicks up and the audience immediately starts clapping off-beat because it is a categorical imperative that crowds cannot clap in unison to music. Corky gets buzzed out because he looks more like he’s having a grand mal than line-dancing. Corky also kicks off our first Montage o’ Suck. There is a country trio that sounds a lot like a trio of cats on the back fence, a cowboy trick roper person named Nolan, a clogging banjoist, an out-of-control hula hooper, and a ballroom dancing teacher comedian who wanders off-stage like an alzheimer’s patient.
The first talent of the night is Holly Hardin, a 19 year-old Georgia peach who should really be saying things like, "Maps… like, such as." She sings "These Boots Are Made for Walkin’" and she can’t be any worse than Kelly Pickler, I suppose. Strangely, her speaking voice is high and annoying but her singing voice is kind of smoky and rich. As long as she doesn’t talk anymore, I say yes. Sharon loves her personality and speaking voice, but wonders what happens when she sings? Uhhhh… WHAT? Is Sharon Osbourne deaf after all these years of listening to "Crazy Train?" Piers liked it, but David hems and haws while Holly’s eyes glisten with tears. She should be on Nashville Star, there are some stinkers on that show. Piers asks her to do some Dolly to convince David and Sharon, and when Holly sings Dolly she’s even better. They finally put her through with 3 yesses. Celebratory Song for Holly: "Here for the Party."
The first Montage o’ Yesses has two acrobats named Duo Genesis who have some pretty impressive moves (all while wearing shiny gold dental floss and a banana hammock), an 11 year-old boy named Lewis who performs some seriously good piano music (on a keyboard, which is weird. AGT can’t afford a real piano?), and the Shaolin Warriors of Chinatown who perform Chinese fighting routines (I wonder which one "does machines" and which one is a "party dude?")
Next up is Beyond Belief, a dance troup hoping to go from "Main Street to Vegas" (we can only speculate, based on their outfits and make-up, if they are from the actual street corner). They perform to an awesome dance mix and have a very sassy Prince-looking guy out in front. This is extremely entertaining. I can’t see it as a Vegas act, but they could certainly perform at the Super Bowl or something. Piers tells them the outfits are horrendous (thank you!) and the make-up is even worse (Piers is my BFF), but the good news is they are terrific dancers. They are through on 3 yesses. I wonder how many different routines they have? Guess we’ll find out. Celebratory Song for Beyond Belief: "Unwritten."
Montage o’ Poop has golden retrievers, monkeys, poodles and finally (set to Alfred Hitchcock Presents music) a 10 year-old pot belly pig named Noel. No, sorry… Smithfield. This pig is an abstract painter. Hmm. He picks up a brush in his mouth and smears some paint on a canvas. Let’s be honest… not that much different than Jackson Pollock. Piers says no, but that Smithfield could have talent as his bacon sandwich. In the ultimate example of irony, we get Jerry Springer responding "That’s awful!" (You ARE the father!) The Montage o’ Poop continues with the white Diana Ross who teases her dog with some treats and sets it to music, a monkey who plays some symbols, and a couple of dogs who retrieve frisbees (not particularly well) and one of them gets forgotten on stage by the owners.
Last in the animal realm (thank god) we get a man with a spaniel named Tucker. Their Celebratory Music is a poor Huey Lewis imitator singing "Happy to be Stuck with You." The talent is an "acrobatic canine disc routine." Tucker walks on two legs and catches many discs while jumping off his owner’s body and doing flips. It is generally very cute and engaging. The judges love it and put them through.
Our last Dallas act is 71 year-old Paul, who looks as if Mel Brooks decided to be a Frank Sinatra impersonator. He struts out there in his tuxedo, dentures a-twinkling, and sings "Fly Me to the Moon" (LOVE that song). And OH MY GOD, he sounds a lot like Sinatra. Not quite as smooth as Ol’ Blue Eyes, but definitely not bad. David makes Sharon dance with him and she looks dismayed. Snerk. The crowd chants "Vegas, Vegas!" and the judges loved it. He’s through. Yay for cute old people!
We leave Dallas and head back to Chicago. I’m just assuming these were edited out of order. Why would they jet all over the country several times? The first act in Chicago is a salsa-dancing brother & sister duo named Junior and Emily. Cool. They are very good, lots of intricate spinning. It’s frenetic and fast, I’d love to see them do something a little slower so we could see the moves better, but overall they are great. Plus, it’s cute they are brother and sister. The judges concur, they are through to Vegas.
"Closer" by Not-Karen-Carpenter kicks up while two canary-clad young folks smooch repeatedly for the camera. Gross. I hope these two are NOT brother and sister. The boy says he wants to do this for a living so they can "be together all the time." Oh lord. They are
Freddie and Flossie Zane and Stephanie and they sing "Unchained Melody." The editing would have us believe they start at the bridge, which is a weird place to start. That song needs to BUILD. Also, they sound a little like Clay Aiken, only not good, and that is saying something. Piers hated it, David tries to be nice and Sharon compliments Flossie but says it was dated.
We now have 7’3 bald-with-a-goatee George the Giant, who says he does an act based on an old-time side show. Oh dear. He gets a volunteer from the audience, a cute little girl with crimped hair. George says he is taking the childhood twisty straw and "kicking it up a notch." He then winds some tubing around the girl, feeds it through his nose and out his mouth and then puts one end in some milk and drinks out of it. Gross. His big finale is setting off fireworks that are strapped to his chest. Huh. The judges found it disturbing but the audience wants him to go to Vegas. His wife comes out and is about 5’2. Awww. Piers decides he’s captivating, funny and dangerous, so he’s through to Vegas (natch).
Factory-worker and part-time musician Jessica is next, ("just a steel-town girl on a Saturday night, looking for the fight of her life…") playing her guitar and singing. The plinky-plunky strains of abandoment play as she tells us how her dad left her family. She sings "I Can’t Make You Love Me," which is a great song. (And way to put your daddy issues front and center.) She does well, sort of like the less-annoying version of Holly from Dallas. Her version of this song is also very much her own, not just a copy of Bonnie Raitt. Everybody loved her and she’s through. She tells Jerry she wishes her dad could hug her and say he’s proud of her. Wow. Yeah, he’s a prince.
We travel now to Atlanta, Georgia. Did Holly realize they were coming to Georgia and she didn’t have to fly to Dallas? Alistair "Smoky" McQueen is our first act. He’s in a tweed suit and acts like he is going to read from a book, but then he starts stripping. Oh, this is disturbing. This is like if a Saved by the Bell nerd took off his clothes. I need a shower. He gets down to a tie, sparkly gold undies and those creepy leg things guys wear under suits to keep their socks up. (Guy garters? I don’t know.) The judges give him 3 no votes.
Smoky kicks off a Montage o’ Strippers with a stripping mortician named Corbin, stripping girls who look like a couple of enormous eels wriggling on a pole, a burlesque act involving fire (that seems safe) called Scandalesque, and some Chippendales dudes. This leads into Busty Heart, who is doing something she’s "never done before." I’m so very, very frightened. She comes onstage and… has the most enormous boobs I have ever seen. I mean… each boob has to be at least the size of a basketball! Her talent is crushing objects with her breasts. Naturally. I wonder how you learn that? Do you just discover it one day when you trip and crush a small child? They don’t even show us this act from the front because it’s so disturbing. She gets three no votes.
Next up is Southern Belles, a clogging group. They are four identically-dressed little cuties who perform to "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." It’s like hip-hop funk clogging, this is awesome. I would totally go see a Vegas show made up of several of the dancing acts we’ve seen so far, if not a whole show made up of one of them. They are very in sync, have cute choreography and facials, and a great acapella ending. Well done. Sharon says they are younger and better-looking than Mr. Riverdance (hopefully they do not scare the bejeezus out of Chandler Bing), and they are through to Vegas.
Dan is a 51 year-old sword swallower, which is something that actually scares me a little. It is not natural. Dan has a rockin’ mullet and very little stage presence (I’m sort of getting the To Catch a Predator vibe), but he does swallow a sword about three feet long. Yikes. And then he does THREE swords at once. Holy crap. Hoff is visibly creeped out, but the other judges liked it so Dan is through.
Little David, a boy whose autism left him mute for the first 3 years of his life, is now singing. Even my black heart grows three sizes with this kid. He is 9 years old and sings "Ben" and it is another really cute act. He’s not as on-pitch as the 4 year-old girl from two weeks ago, but he’s just so earnest. Piers asks him what he’ll sing in the next round and he says, "I’m gonna have to think about that one." Awww. He’s through to Vegas. I hope his next performance involves killer rats. His Celebratory Song is "You Are Not Alone." Enough with the Michael Jackson crap when a little boy is performing, it’s scary.
David caps off tonight’s show for us. Join us next week for hopefully our last week of first-rounders, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.