On the second episode of "America's Got Talent," the auditions were held in San Francisco for the first time ever. The show had crazy acts, a pony-riding dog, cute kids, bad singers, electrifying dancers, and of course, the loudest, most irritating audience in television. Ah, yes, just another beautiful day at "AGT."
Let's "Mind Freak" that audience, ASAP!
Let's get right down to my biggest annoyance with not only today's episode, but all of them -- the "live" studio audience. Perhaps my feelings are intensified because I had the pleasure (and pain) of watching what goes on behind-the-scenes at the NBC production. Without giving away secrets, let's just attribute the crowd shots to the magic of Hollywood, and what you think you are seeing, may, at times, be a lovely grand illusion. Regardless, the people in the seats are obnoxious, and now that we hear their "spontaneous" reactions, it's worse. Do you think Criss Angel would magically "mind freak" all of them into another dimension for us?!
Funny comic, cool artists, and "opera man"
Now, on to the contestants...
Things kicked off with David Garibaldi and his pals who did a Blue Man Group-style performance blending music, dance, art, and Beethoven, which was fascinating.
Another fun performer was David Burleigh, a comedian/impressionist. While he's not the best we've likely ever heard, he was a pleasant, upbeat guy who did a "Dancing With the Stars" routine, impersonating Nic Cage, Jack Black, and the always controversial Charlie Sheen (who quipped "The last time I went dancing was with Gary Busey and two hookers.")
David's Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughan bit was spot-on. Even Howard Stern was likable by saying to him "you got those animals (in the studio audience) to quiet down for one minute, which is not easy." Amen, Brother Stern!
One of the more emotional moments came from a male nurse who sings for his patients every day. He sang an opera song, and it was pretty special. The man said he grew up poor and his father (who passed away last year) gave him a record player when he was a kid, so he could bring quality music into their lives.
Another highlight was a beautiful, young dance troupe called Funk Beyond Control, who electrified the stage with their talent and energy.
"Broom Man, Mr. Special, and Kotton Kandy"
There were a few "are you kidding me?" acts, including a guy who used a broom and a dust pan as his musical instruments. The judges went insane for him, with Howard Stern "hypnotized" and Sharon Osbourne salivating "I loved it." I'm sorry, but this one left me cold. The only semi-amusing part was Howie Mandel's corny comment "you cleaned up."
In another "what the heck was that?" performance, we have "Kotton Kandy," a man dressed like a cross between Cee Lo, George Clinton, and a tacky burlesque queen sporting pink feathers and flashing way too much skin. Even though he was bad, when Nick Cannon started dancing with him, it kicked up the amusement value a few notches. Nick is a likeable emcee with a lot of exuberance and personality, who shines when he gets involved with the performers.
Another "favorite" was "Mr. Special," who was so odd, it's hard to say what his talent was, but all I remember is that he kept repeating how hot he was for Mrs. Osbourne. Yeah, major creep-out guy, that's for sure.
Two bootylicious shots, please!
"America's Got Talent" is certainly no stranger to viewer manipulation, which was in full force for Tim Hockenberry. He was a competent-to-good singer/musician, but nothing extraordinary. He performed "You are So Beautiful," and the judges acted as if they just heard the greatest entertainer in the history of music. Stern called him "a breath of fresh air," and Mandel gushed "Your life is about to change. You are born to be a star."
Mr. Hockenberry has skills and passion, and almost everyone likes the struggling-artist-gets-his-due story, but it was textbook manipulation 101. There was the loving, supportive girlfriend, who just happened to look like a supermodel, giving us not one, but two close-up derriere-in-a-tight-dress shots, and let's not forget the newborn baby, who was paraded around at the audition and on stage. (Smart move to have a 3-week-old infant exposed to hundreds of people at one time, wouldn't you say?!)
Enjoyable show, slightly edgier Stern
Overall, the latest installment of "America's Got Talent" was fairly pleasant, with a wide variety of performances. It was also good to see Howard Stern a bit edgier and more relaxed than during the first night's show, even getting in a few zingers at the talent-challenged contestants.