NBC’s talent show ‘America’s Got Talent’ returned for another season last night, complete with a new judge: the controversial Howard Stern. So did he give the Parents Television Council anything to worry about? They had called for advertisers to boycott the popular prime time TV show unless the shock jock was removed from the judging panel. TV bosses refused to give in.
So did Stern behave? Yes, basically, although it’s clear he is not easily impressed. Which is a good thing on this show. After all, the winner is supposed be a global star and be able to headline a show in Vegas; that’s not easy and it needs someone with talent.
Was there anyone on last night’s premiere of ‘America’s Got Talent’ who could fill those shoes?
Howard Stern started the episode in fine form by declaring that he knows what the American public want to see and “I’m the only damn American on the panel anyway”. He followed that up by saying the executives should be fired for choosing him as a judge. Oh I am going to love this guy.
But what about the contestants?
First up was Aoni Jackson, a magician. Howard loves magic and he was excited Nick was chosen to help with the act by loaning his ring, but he couldn’t remove it so Howie loaned his ring instead. Unfortunately, the act was uber boring and not even a screen descending with him dressed in a sexy cop outfit, behind which the guy does a strip tease, could make it entertaining to anyone but Sharon. By biggest laugh was Howie saying he didn’t want his ring back as it had been hanging from Aoni’s nipple. Three Xs.
Miss. Les, the “Bird Lady” arrived on stage with 22 cockatiels. The singer’s song was cute and catchy but since her cockatiels appeared to have got stage fright or been struck dumb then they were somewhat surplus to requirements. Howie loved it, which started an argument with Howard, who had buzzed her. Sharon had the deciding vote and thankfully said ‘no,’ although she said Miss Les had a sweet voice.
Next a guy singing “Proud Mary” got three Xs. Howard told him he was terrible, and the guy gave a great response, saying that he would be hurt if he respected Howard’s opinion. Makes me wonder why he came on the show in the first place, but he was soon booted off it again.
Next was a singer trying, and failing, to sound like Michael Jackson. Howard had obviously just treated the previous act as the warm up guy. On this one he really went for it, asking if his parents ever told him that he was terrible, and when the guy says his parents are dead, asking if they died of embarrassment. I didn’t want to like that comment but I was trying not to inhale my snacks at the time.
A lot of the acts were terrible, as you would expect at this stage of any reality TV competition. They are just trotted out for some ritual humiliation so we can feel a little bit better about ourselves and our own insignificant talents. Howard was on hand to suggest a Plan B to them, though, telling one girl to go marry some rich guy, it worked out for Sharon. Ozzie loved it! We saw him in the audience in fits of laughter.
I was ready for some talent instead of some comic relief, though and we got it in the form of William Close. He creates musical instruments for a living, and brought his earth harp that has 3000 feet of string. It’s huge. He also brought his pregnant fiancé with him but he didn’t play her. The judges gave William a richly deserved standing ovation. William obviously got three yes votes.
Elements Dance Cru, an all-girls clog dancing group were good but hardly Vegas, darling. Even Howard, who admitted he usually fast forwards dance acts on TV, loved them. All the judges did, except Howie, who picked out some not so good dancers among them. But he, along with the other two judges, still votes yes.
All Wheel Sports, Elizabeth and Chris LaBar all progressed to the next stage without too much trouble.
But worthy of special mention are seven year old Alexa and her dad, Jorge Narvaez; he plays the guitar and sings, she sings. They were fantastic. Just adorable, and so talented. Three yeses.
So endeth the first day of this year’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ auditions.
The next day started for us TV viewers with Ben Black’s dangerous cross bow act. The judges dug the danger and when Sharon asked if he could step it up if he came back, Howard said that he kills the assistant next time. That made me laugh a lot and is not beyond the realms of possibility. Three yeses.
The Light Wire Theatre gave us dinosaurs in the dark which was a whole lot more impressive than it sounds. They too went through to the next stage without any trouble.
Some dangerous snakes and scorpions and a talking dog and another dance troupe made it through to the next stage before we got to a bizarre double act which involved piercing one’s cheek to a hypnotic drum beat. It was all a bit sickening and I was with Howie, who was the first to give the act an X, but he was quickly followed by the other two judges. Howard said that they remind him why he doesn’t like people! The best part of this segment was Nick back stage with their young child in a stroller, telling him to get a nice accounting job when he grows up!
Some other acts definitely not going through were boys playing kazoos, Stormin’ Norman decorating a pumpkin and Reggie’s awful song and dance act which was hardly improved by Nick Cannon getting up on stage to rap with him.
Loyalty Dance Crew got a standing ovation and three yeses.
Simply Sergio somehow took a step nearer to his hopes of winning the $1 million prize. The 47-year-old waiter came on stage to sing and dance and did both badly. He improved a bit on ‘God Bless America,’ but I don’t know how or why he made it through.
Maurice and Shanice are father and daughter street performers. Now this is how singing is really done! They got a sanding O from judges and audience alike and I was crying along with Shanice as it looks like her dream has a chance to be fulfilled. Howard was moved too and he said they were fantastic. Howie even went so far as to call Shanice ‘an angel.’ The judges really liked this act! Howie said she gave them the first real moment of season 7.
With Howie assuring St. Louis this is the first time they have been there, but it is not the last time, we head to San Francisco for part two of the ‘America’s Got Talent’ premiere on Tuesday night. Oh how I’ve missed this show; I’m so glad its back!