Howard Stern goes off, a standup holds up on 'America's Got Talent'

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It's Week 2 of "AGT's" quarterfinals, and the brutal competition final got its symbolic face last night. Performer after performer has been felled by nerves and bad song/dance/stunt choices, leading to some of America's early favorites being sent straight home. But nobody had it harder than Tim Hockenberry, who faced a Simon Cowell-esque Howard Stern critique after a lackluster Katy Perry cover.

So this week again started slow, with the first acts underwhelming the judges and audience -- and earning a few boos and buzzers. But the night wasn't all cringe-worthy -- several performers lived up to their talented potential, shining even brighter against the lackluster competition. Let's take a look at the night's standouts.

Most Surprising: Bending Your Ear

This week was the moment of truth for professional funnyman Tom Cotter, whose audition rounds had the judges rolling. Was he able to do it again in front of a live audience? To give you an indication, Howard Stern suggested this might be a rare year in which a nonsinger takes the title.


No Gray Skies Here

After half a show of dismal performances, 14-year-old Danielle Stallings stepped onstage and became the first ray of sunshine of the night. Singing Bruno Mars's "It Will Rain," Danielle even made a believer of holdout Stern. Look for this talented teen to go far.


Up In the Air

Acrobats Donovan and Rebecca are the first to admit they aren't in their 20s anymore, but they show no sign of weakness. Again changing up their act, the married couple performed an emotional tribute to their romance -- with Donovan dangling Rebecca upside down by one foot. Now that's love.


Part of Him

Poor Tim Hockenberry has been a target of Howie Mandel's since the beginning, falling into Mandel's Season 7 mantra of "seen it all before." Yes, Hockenberry is reminiscent of Joe Cocker, but that doesn't diminish his talent. Last night, Hockenberry took on Katy Perry's "Part of Me" with mixed results -- he won over Mandel but lost supporter Stern.

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