For us TVphiles, summer officially starts with the premiere of “America’s Got Talent.” It’s part “American Idol,” part “Gong Show,” part “The Apollo” and all guilty pleasure. As much as I love a good singer, I’m always excited to see what non-vocal acts the show finds, since we see so much singing on various other shows.
Before we get to the new Season 6 contestants, we take a peek at last year’s winner Michael Grimm and runner-up Jackie Evancho, both of whom are busy performing. Michael Grimm’s self-titled album dropped just a couple weeks ago and it’s not bad. He has a “Simple Man” cover featuring Travis Tritt that is really great, there is also a song called “Gasoline and Matches” that features one of my favorite female vocalists of all time – Ann Wilson. Definitely worth a listen if you haven’t checked it out yet. Jackie’s album drops this summer and that should be pretty spectacular as well.
We kick things off in Los Angeles with a 50-year-old unicycling flaming torch juggler, which is what this show is all about, y’all. His name is Frank Olivier and he asks Howie to help him, completely freaking Howie out by grabbing his head for balance. Howie doesn’t like to be touched, you see. It’s delightful. Also, the guy juggles flaming torches while on a unicycle, so … and he kind of sounds like Doc Brown. Howie exes him, but the other two put him through. He’s not going to go far, but good for Frank.
Up next is 34-year-old Ryan Andreas who works in IT but is a musician on the inside. A very nervous musician. He sings/plays piano on “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan and it’s quite good. It’s original-sounding enough that it actually took me a second to figure out what the song was, which says a lot since mostly this song just makes me cry during ASPCA commercials. He is through unanimously.
*GASP* Is this Double Dream Hands?! Do you watch “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”? His name is John Jacobson and he is a 54-year-old music teacher and one of his instructional videos got put on “the YouTube.” Oh, this is magical! So he’s here to teach the audience to dance. His enthusiasm is wonderful, but the audience starts booing. Aww, don’t be mean to Double Dream Hands! He gets three Xs, though Howie’s is punched by Piers to end it early. I mean, obviously he should not have gone through, but I would never have booed DDH.
“Forget You” Montage: Brian Bausch horses around, Stephanie Sanson is a Bratz doll come to life who shrieks like she’s getting a pap from Captain Hook, Ned Donovan and Charlie Forray skip their D&D club meeting to show the audience how to fake fight and Louie NoLastName does the judges’ farts with his armpit, which the judges kind of giggle at but – no.
Landon Swank is a super-cute 26-year-old magician and that’s great, but it’s a hard act for this show because you have to keep getting bigger. He definitely needs to start small-ish. To the strains of “No Air,” he uses a light and a cut out of a vase to make the Triwizard Cup appear in a box. He then vanishes a girl in the box. It’s … OK. He has no panache, though. No stage presence, no oomph, which is really key for a magician. Maybe he’s playing us all very slyly, so that he has a lot of room to grow as an act, which again – key for “AGT.” He deserves another chance, for sure. The judges put him through.
Good Montage: The Body Poets get their jam on with dancing and black light effects, Brennan Figari performs on the “aerial silks,” which is physically very, very impressive (but he needs a partner or two to keep it interesting) and Olivia Bellafontaine rocks her burlesque routine and a whip (Howie and Piers are quite excited).
Debbie is now up with her parrot Danny. Um … no. Nobody cares about a parrot act. Nice use of “Bird is the Word,” though. She tells “jokes” and Danny pipes in with bits and pieces. It’s dumb. Sorry, but it is. The parrot is not “smart,” it’s well-trained and forgive me if I’m not excited to watch an act of this. She gets through, though.
Up now is Frank Miles, a juggler. So the second juggler named Frank. Weird. He started juggling because he was afraid of people and decided now that he’s over his fear, he needs to do scary things, like juggling tasers and being on “AGT.” Sorry, but how funny would it be if he nicked himself with a stun gun while juggling and just keeled over? Heh. But he does it and nothing goes wrong. His running schtick is funny, like how he goes, “I’ve been drinking since this morning.” He takes the stunt to another level by moving into a pool of water, which is actually kinda bad-ass. If he can keep bringing the funny, it could be a cool act. Piers wants assurances that he will continue to attempt to kill himself, the puts him through.
The last guy of the day is Udi Abagnale, whose dream is to make his living as a singer. He is accompanied by two backup dancers that appear to be two random women he grabbed from the nearby bus stop about 10 minutes before going on stage. He doesn’t even get to sing before he gets Xed off. Seriously, just stop. These aren’t funny, nobody likes these, “AGT.” And “Idol,” just BTW. Hopefully “X Factor” will avoid them.
The second hour kicks off Atlanta auditions. Up first are 24 ballroom dancers called the Miami All-Stars. They range in age from 13 to 43 and are very, very good. The routines are uptempo, lots of Latin flare. Their synchronicity needs work, but that’s a hard thing to get with so many dancers. Their tricks are certainly cool, I definitely want to see more of them. The judges love it, they are through.
Good Montage: Magician Scott Alexander dazzles with a levitating woman trick, adorable Preston Weber is a 12-year-old fire dancer, which … huh. Don’t see that every day. The Yellow Design Stunt Team does bicycle stunts and it’s decently cool, especially for a first audition. They have room to grow into a very impressive act.
The next group is one of those acts that maybe isn’t quiiiite good enough to go far on this show (see: Kaitlyn Maher, Future Funk) but they are so freakin’ cute that you just want to eat them up.
They are the SH’Boss Boys and they rap and dance. They say they rap about “education, being smart, having fun and girls.” OH. MY. GOD. I could just die from the cuteness, especially Young J (the middle one). He’s obviously the ringleader and then he says if he wins, he would buy a big, big house and put kids in there who don’t have a home. Oh my god, I just cannot.
When the act starts, Young J is working the stage like he is ready to take Hollywood by storm. Some of the lyrics include, “I’m a G and you can be too. Study real hard and do good in school!” The “G” stands for “genius,” you see. OH. MY. GOD.
And hilariously enough, they’re pretty good. They’re not bad little “wappers” and dancers. I watched their entire routine with my hands up to my mouth in delight, that was wonderful. The judges put them through, of course.
The delight from the cutie boys is quickly squelched by Inigo Montoya with his “pop and lock robot wing chung new age” routine. I try to fast-forward, but I’ve caught up with the live TV and my DVR makes angry noises at me. Yeah, I feel ya, DVR. Except then I’m a little glad I didn’t fast-forward because he hilariously cartwheels off the front of the stage. Yes, of course, if he was really hurt, that would not be funny – but he’s not, so it is. Especially when Howie says he pressed Sharon’s button to end it
and he deadpans, “I saved your life.”
“Forget You” Montage: Vocal
Adrenaline Element does a terrifying a capella cocaine-fueled version of “Turn the Beat Around,” the Forever Young Dancers (who represent a niche market of the adult entertainment industry) dance to “Lollipop” while wearing diapers and all I can think is “lemon party” (Google it. Or don’t. Actually, don’t). My boyfriend remarks, “Those … are someone’s grandpas.” Then “Metatron” does some church-y beat poetry and falls offstage. What is it, coated with butter? What is happening right now? Also, I thought Alan Rickman was Metatron …
As Howie tells “Metatron” that he didn’t see the lights or show them the way, Metetron’s smile fades in such a way that my boyfriend goes, “He’s going to make a skin suit out of Howie.” Seriously. It puts the lotion on its skin …
Nicole and Mike are up next. They are the Crossed Swords, which is not to be confused with crossing the streams (which if you’re fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing, is total protonic reversal). Anyway, they sword fight each other like they just escaped from the nearest Ren Faire. They get buzzed by Howie and Sharon. Maybe they can team up with those fake-fighting gomers from the Los Angeles auditions.
Howie is stunned that Piers didn’t buzz them, but Piers is from the Shire, so he probably dug it. In the ensuing judges’ comments, Piers and Howie take the stage to sword fight, which involves the swords and not … a euphemism for swords, we’re a family-friendly blog here. But guess what? Piers was on a fencing team at some point, because he had some actual moves. And then not 60 seconds after I type that, Piers says he fenced in school. Heh.
There is a commercial for “Whitney” where the main girl’s (presumably “Whitney”) fella buys her a piece of jewelry that says “calm down.” That is HI-larious, y’all. A woman definitely wants to be told to “calm down” via a shiny bauble.
The last act of the night plunges the theatre into total darkness. They are called Team iLuminate and they’re like technologically advanced Fighting Gravity from last year. I bet that is super cool in person. It’s hard to describe here, but it’s awesome. They have HUGE potential as an act on this show. The judges love it. The woman behind the show is a dancer/software developer and she created the technology behind the act.
Well, after two hours, I can’t wait to see more of Team iLuminate, magician Scott Alexander (I first typed “Steve Alexander.” I have turned into a “Lost” character), fire dancer Preston Weber, the dance group Miami All-Stars, singer Ryan Andreas and the adorable SH’Boss Boys. What about you, “AGT” fans?