Is Simon Cowell the reality TV equivalent of the visionary yet tragically insane Dr. Moreau? Isolated on an island of his own success, it seems Dr. Cowell has been obsessively tweaking his reality TV formula again. A nationwide search for talent. All competing for $1 Million (or, to quote another mad doctor: one meeeellion dollars [pinky]). America’s vote will decide who wins. Sound familiar? But this time: NO boundaries, NO restriction on the type of act, NO age limits, NO need to look physically appealing, and apparently, NO need to pass stringent pre-show psychological testing. Has anyone NO SHAME? It’s “American Idol,” it’s “The Gong Show,” “It’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” it’s “Baywatch,” it’s a car, it’s a robot, it’s my sister, my daughter, my sister and my daughter [SLAP!]. Will this hybrid beast prove a ratings triumph or a horrible abomination of nature? Only time will tell, but if anyone trots out a wee creature that is half-monkey, half-Hasselhoff, I am out of here.
Oh Brave New World, That Hath Such Talents In It
The Island of the Mysterious Dr. Cowell (as we do not see him once in the entire broadcast) is not located in a remote archipelago of the South Pacific, but rather, in the heart of Hollywood, at Paramount Studios. Here we meet our host, showbiz workhorse Regis Philbin, who does his best to drum up our enthusiasm by hyping up their “quest” to find star talent by opening up the doors of opportunity to “absolutely anybody doing absolutely anything.” Here’s where I would normally insert a joke about German porn, but because this is a good old fashioned family variety show, I shall refrain. Because I’m classy like that!
Regis explains that hundreds registered for the auditions in Los Angeles. Cue montage of all the sad sacks that didn’t make the final cut. There are a couple of monkeys in there, and one man in a blue gorilla suit, but thank God no Hasselmonkey as of yet. While the majority of these people look like street performers (dancers, robot men, sleight-of-hand artists, etc.), a more significant number look like plain street people, like maybe the police just did a sweep of the homeless in the area, and bunch of them simply wandered into the building to get out of the sun.
There are some strange and even scary folk with varying degrees of marketable skill: a Little Richard lookalike who says he’s the “best looking man in comedy”; a muscular man in a dress with a gigantic chicken mask; a yodeler in need of dental work; many people comfortable in spandex. One haggard individual looks like Bernadette in Priscilla Queen of the Desert might have if all the rednecks in the bar pulled a train on her. What is your talent, honey? She didn’t make it on the show, but I’m sure you could find out if you drove slowly down Fountain Ave. at 3am.
And jugglers. There are so many goddamn jugglers! Who knew? Do we really need this many? Is there really that great of a demand for people who can toss bowling pins in the air? There’s something suspicious about it. I say we keep an eye on them. If they start to conspire, they will take over the world.
Regis strolls along Stage 16 while the
freaksacts prepare to audition. He explains that in order to help our would-be talents, AGT is providing them with all they could possibly need to put on a rocking show: there’s a live band for musical accompaniment (he waves hi to Ricky, the band leader), a great big stage with fancy moving parts, and finally, some of the entertainment industry’s finest set lighting. I mean take a gander at those trusses, will you? [whistles] God those are beautiful lights.
Once Regis hits his mark center stage, spotlights reveal the audience in the studio is filled with a motley crowd of colorful West Coast contestants. While all of them are dying for the chance to perform before the judges tonight, not all their names will be called. Regis will call out the names of the lucky folks who will get a chance to impress the judges, and hopefully move on to the semi-finals.
Meet the Judges
So what about those judges? Unlike any other show you’ve ever seen before, there are a panel of three: one discriminating and brutally honest British guy, one super sweet and supportive female musical performer, and then another guy who likes to shake things up but very rarely says anything helpful. See if you can guess who’s who!
David Hasselhoff (a.k.a. The Hoff, Hoffer, Ass-elhoff, Mr. Inordinate Number of Shirtless Pics in Google Image Search) – Yes, this is the actor of “Baywatch” and “Knight Rider” fame (in fact, they introduce him with the “Knight Rider” theme song, which totally RAWKS), who is also a musical sensation in Europe (let’s be honest, by Europe they really only mean Germany—and to be fair, only mentally infirm Germans), and easily one of the single cheesiest celebrities in Hollywood history. He’s a major tool. True story—I was once stuck in traffic next to his car after attending the same comedy event, and harassed him by pointing and yelling “Hey, it’s Macgyver!” I was young and I don’t drink like that any more, but trust me, he deserved it.
Brandy (a.k.a. Stop Calling Me Moesha, Paula Ab-Brandy) – Yes, this is the sweet little songstress and star of her own TV show, who charmed audiences at a young age, and has won multiple awards and earned 2 gold and 3 platinum records in the process. I never harassed her in traffic, she’s too darn cute! She wants to discover “the next big superstar”, and wants to see something she’s never seen before. How about some juggling?
Piers Morgan (a.k.a. I’m Sorry But Who The Hell Are You?, Simon Cowell’s Wing Man) – Yes, this is Simon Cowell’s stunt double since Simon is not allowed to appear on any other show than “American Idol”. That’s not to say he’s not a qualified judge. A smart, blunt, successful British man, Morgan is a journalist and publisher who knows from celebrity—after all, he’s met all the Royal Family in England and numerous other luminaries in entertainment (they show pictures of him with Stallone and Schwarzenegger). He’s the one you really want to impress around here.
Because this show is totally new and unique, this show has a feature that you will have never seen before on any other talent show ever! Because any cuckoo could be coming out onstage, they have a safety measure in place in case things get unbearable. That’s the X system (NO relation to “The X Factor”! We swear!). Each judge has access to a buzzer that lights up a big red X with their name underneath. When you get all three X’s, it’s curtains for you. See? No Gong, totally new and unique! We swear!
So now that we’re familiarized with all the players and the game, and are even on a first-syllable basis with our host, Reeg, he tells us that he will proceed to call out acts, a small group at a time, who will be allowed to go backstage to prepare for their act. It strikes me as being like waiting for your prescription at the world’s weirdest pharmacy. But then that’s Hollywood for you. Did I ever tell you guys about the time I waited at a pharmacy behind Gary Coleman? But that’s another story for another time.
Bad Fingers, Horn Guy, Blue Velvet, and At Last, The Kid
Finally it’s time for the acts. There’s two hour’s worth, so let’s do this.
Bobby Badfingers – This fellow is the only “professional snappist” in the world, who quite frankly looks like someone who was just on “Dateline: To Catch a Predator” the hour previous. I’m not suggesting anything about his predilections; he just has that look, especially since he’s sporting the fluffy moustache and dark glasses from the Beastie Boys “Sabotage” video. But talk about rocking the house! This guy gives a high-energy snap/dance that drives the crowd batty. They’re cheering so hard, you’d think they’d never seen a professional snappist before! Oh, prolly because they haven’t, seeing as how he’s the only one in existence. I’m actually impressed, and so are all the judges, because they let him through to the next round. And I take back my “Dateline” comment, because Bobby seems like a nice guy who is as stunned at his success tonight as anyone else.
Dave “The Horn Guy” Ewns – Not to be mistaken for Dave The Horny Guy, who works Santa Monica Blvd. This guy looks more like he’d work the Venice Beach boardwalk (i.e. not classy enough for Third Street Promenade) in a bright orange suit with dozens of horns on it that makes him look like he a) just escaped from prison and b) cleverly covered it with bike horns to evade the police. Piers Xes him straight away during his rendition of “Frere Jacques.” He then gets Hip Hop on us, and while I couldn’t think of a better way to not get laid, the audience seems to like him. But it’s early and they feel generous. Piers tells Dave he belongs “on the end of a pier”; is he hitting on Dave? But no, it’s clear he means it in a bad way when he says, “preferably off the end”. Brandy defends him, because it’s early and she feels generous. The Hoff thinks he would be great on Hollywood Blvd, and his vote gets Dave through. Because it’s early and everyone feels generous.
Blue Velvet – Wow, the B52’s really let themselves go. They’re XXXed out before they even finish their first line.
At Last – This quartet of slick, handsome Asian American dudes is a “Hip Hop Appella” singing group. Their Asian parents wanted them to be professional lawyers or doctors, or at least awesome at math, but eventually came to support their showbiz aspirations. They blast forth in sweet four part harmony, doing “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” Brandy’s looking like she’s struck with a sudden case o’ Yellow Fever. They do sound great though, and they don’t need the live band accompaniment, all they need is their voices. Wow, now this is the kind of act I want to see more of, the entire performance is spectacular and earns a standing ovation, from everyone except Piers who deems them “almost flawless” and says they should change their look. Brandy says keep it, and Piers says “Apart from selling 25 million albums, what does she know about music?” Brandy gives him an Abdul-esque stage slap. They’re “100%” in to the next round.
Sydney “Sid the Kid” Park – At 8 years old, this tiny dynamo in the “I <3 Mom” shirt is the world’s Littlest Stand-up Comic. Her delivery is unexpectedly mature and edgy. Race and gender humor? “I’m half-black…Why are we so fat, I mean, don’t we eat vegetables?” Capping on fat women?!! “You’re not a size 2, will you please stop wearing my clothes?” She informs the judges that she writes her own material, which not every comic can claim on “Last Comic Standing”. Piers declares, “You’re going to be a huge star, I’m glad to have met you,” and the precocious comedienne gets through to the next round.
Juggler, Pirates, Stripper, Singer
Kenny Shelton – A juggler, says that he’s going to show us some “unique” and entertaining juggling. His first mistake: using the song “Cotton Eyed Joe” as his background; second: being incredibly sucky. I mean the guy keeps dropping stuff, and what’s unique? I think we’ve all seen someone do tennis rackets, basketballs, or baseballs bats. If he juggled live dolphins, maybe then I’d be impressed. Piers and the Hoff X him and the crowd gets visibly testy. Then Brandy gives the third X. And yet somehow, he gets through! How, you ask? After a possibly scripted argument to build tension, Kenny promises that if he drops one of the knives in his finale, he will walk straight off stage. He juggles the knives for a full minute while balancing on a board on a log, and gets through.
The Shadow Dancers – Okay, out come a tattooed lady and a donkey, and I’m scared what might transpire. I thought you had to drive to TJ for shows like this, but I guess Reeh did say they were looking for all types of talent. Ah but it’s not that kind of donkey show. But what the hell is it? Three folks dressed like pirates trot around silently and are acting out an incomprehensible story. There are many boos, but the judges are too stunned to even X them. Piers says he will let audience vote on this one (Are there any rules around this joint?) and they wisely do not allow these freakazoids to continue.
Bernie Barker – A former nuclear engineer who might have been exposed too much radiation, Bernie looks like a frosty-haired Jerry Stiller in a pimp outfit. The 66 year old says that what he does has ladies passing out. What is he, a rohypnol distributor? No, he’s the world’s oldest male stripper and he comes out dancing to “She Bangs” which makes me throw up a little in the back of my mouth. He is so wrong for that glitter body makeup. Piers and Brandy judiciously X him, but the Hoff seems to like him (which leaves me wondering about the Hoff’s predilections). Brandy even has to X Hoff’s button to make the madness stop once Bernie’s thong comes out. The Hoff is visibly upset he missed out on the Full Monty, which is maybe even more disturbing than a sextuagenarian in a sequined thong. Piers says no to Bernie, but Brandy who is suddenly afflicted with retrograde amnesia, and likes the guy she just Xed out. Hoff is first to say yes (a little too eagerly methinks), then Brandy says 100% yes. Bernie
threatenspromises, “Much more of me [and] my glow stick.”
Alexis Jordan – When the pretty singer belts out “I Have Nothing,” she is 14 going on 40, meaning she sounds like a seasoned performer. Standing O from all the judges and audience members. Brandy says watching her young talent is ”like watching myself in a mirror.” Don’t you just love compliments that flatter the giver more than the recipient? But the main thing is she’s going on in the competition. Alexis cries, her Mom cries, I cry.
The Singing Saw, Puppets, Harps, Impersonationist
Eddie Haskell and His Singing Saw – A vaguely vampiric bald dude comes out in black vinyl pants with a saw, which he proceeds to play as if it were a cello, producing a creepy, whining sound. When the Hoff is scared of you, you know something’s wrong…He gets Xed quickly, and cops a nasty ‘tude that does nothing to get him to the next round. Adieu, Nosferatu.
Kevin Johnson – A ventriloquist who performs with big puppets, Clyde and Mathilda. Piers Xes him out. Kevin pulls out some material that methinks has gone beyond its freshness date—the hoary Godzilla movie dubbing joke. Yeah, we know the mouths don’t match the words. Who hasn’t seen this a million times? Yet the crowd and the judges go nuts for it! Have you people been in a cave the past twenty years? From the looks of them, the answer is probably yes. Kevin and the puppets live to see another round.
Kathy Kavanaugh – A more mature lady who is a harpist and singer. I think she sounds angelic, but the Hoff laughs at her! How rude! I mean, who is the Hoff to scoff? She gets Xed out, but Piers says that when he dies, he wants her to play at his funeral. Zing!
Eric “Harrey Carrey” Mol – Calls himself an “Impersonationist.” Is this different from an impersonator? It’s virtually impossible to tell who he’s trying to mimic, is that the difference? I had no idea he was doing Schwarzenegger, Yoda, or Shaggy. I just thought he had multiple personality disorder. Bye bye, Harrey Carrey, go commit Hari Kiri. Aside from sucking, he’s also delusional; he thinks people don’t know who he’s impersonating because of their ignorance and not, oh, his crap impersonating skills. “I don’t know if they even know…Yoda from Star Wars.” Well maybe you shouldn’t pick characters from such small and obscure films.
Balancing, Ballers, Nose Flutist
Vladimir Malachikhin – This guy dressed in the diaphanous white fabric is here to perform a hand balancing act. The curtain goes up on a one man Cirque de Soleil, which is surprisingly not as lame as it sounds. He balances on thin sticks with grace and agility (although, I think he stole the poles I have my surround sound speakers on). He’s a crowd pleaser and very bendy. Brandy likes bendy. Piers is even won over. Hoff wants him a different outfit, but Vladimir is IN.
Team AcroDunk – These basketballers combine acrobats with Harlem Globetrotter trickiness; the crowd enjoys them, not Piers though. They don’t care about his opinion because “He’s wack, he’s from England.” Great, they just insulted an entire sodding country. They will be going to the next round, but they probably won’t be going to the UK anytime soon.
Jay Myl – He’s dressed like Napolean and plays the nose flute. Not long after he starts his nasal rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” he’s XXXed. He’s also quite possibly drunk. An angry, angry drunk. He trash talks Piers (“You’re suffering from jet lag”) and even Brandy!!! “What megahit have you got?” She tells him to wait, she’s got something coming—wouldn’t it be sweet if her nose rendition of “Tiptoe(Nasal Drip Remix)” blew up next week! Then Jay hits the Hoff which, let’s face it, is all too easy. Regis applauds, smiling broadly, probably because he’s the only one Jay didn’t insult! Need I tell you the Nose Flutist does not make it through?
Earwig, Boofonts, Another Juggler
Betty Victor – This silver-haired vocalist has experience singing before a crowd—of people in nursing homes. Her version of “God Bless America” is, God bless dear Betty, the warbliest, shrillest rendition I’ve ever heard. The high note shattered my ear drum. Piers said he once had an earwig stuck in his ear and it caused unbelievable pain that he hasn’t felt again until now. Betty suggests he see an ear doctor. Ooh, buuurn! As time goes by, everyone’s a bit punchier. Betty will not continue, however.
The Boofont Sisters – Two fat Divine look-alikes, except one is actually biologically female (I think). They’re Xed fast (I start to notice it’s usually Piers and Brandy who start the Xing, then they force the Hoff to push his). They’re rejected, even though one of the Boofonts pleads, “Come on, Moesha.” Oh snap!
Ivan Pecel – Another juggler who’s better than the other, but gets XXXed out anyway. “I’m one of the best jugglers out there. You don’t know anything about juggling!” Ivan protests. The audience fights the judges (Who dares defy the Hoff?) which only shows the panel has earned none of their respect. The judges relent and allow Ivan to go on.
Microwave of Death, Holy Cow, Gospel, Yet Another Juggler
Nathan Burton - A magician whose piece de resistance is the “Microwave of Death.” A hot female assistant comes out in a “Kiss the Cook” apron to chain Nathan’s hands together and place him in a large, human sized microwave (how handy for cannibal cooks!). When Nathan emerges, he is no longer the pasty, slightly overweight Paul Giamatti look-alike he was a moment ago, instead he is a fleet-footed black guy! Piers Xes him, but Nathan is killing the crowd, and I’m even finding myself entertained by the mix of magic and comedy. Brandy and Hoff outvote Piers, and Nathan is in for the semi-finals.
Holy Cow – We’re well into the second hour now and it’s that time in the evening when you feel you’ve stayed a little too long at the party. You know, Dancing Cow time. Some guy comes out in a puffy, rubbery cow costume replete with active udders and breakdances. By the time he starts shooting milk out of his udders, it’s my time to go. You lost me at the spurting udders, dude. The crowd starts to either boo or moo, I’m not sure which. The Holy Cow is deemed “Udderly ridiculous” by the Hoff and is ejected from the competition.
Michael Speaks – This Gospel Singer puts some soul back in the competition after the creepy cow thing. The judges seem grateful to have someone normal back onstage and put him though.
Vladik Miagkostoupov – Another bloody juggler? When did this become America’s Next Top Juggler? This guy is actually good though. Good enough to restore Piers’s faith in jugglers. Must have been a dark night of the soul for old Piers tonight. Vladik goes through.
Birds, Dogs, Balloons, and Rappin’ Grannies, Oh My!
Wild Life Wendy and Wazoo – This Patricia Arquette meets Joan Embrey woman has a bird named “Wazoo” that she claims is “French for bird.” Look lady, even though I may have forgotten most of my schoolgirl French lessons, even I know that that’s just false (Le mot est “oiseau,” n’est-ce pas?). Her act is quickly XXXed which ticks off Wendy and sparks a huge debate on animal rights in relation to AGT. It does not help her get through, the judges clearly think Wendy’s act is for the birds. Wendy thinks this is animal discrimination.
J.R. Johns and His Best Friends – This guy has been training dogs for years, many of them from the SPCA as he is a firm believer in rescuing dogs. Not only is he nice, and clearly loves his dogs, their act is truly entertaining. He and his pups do so much in the short time allotted: He has dogs balancing, dogs in costumes (the diver and the shark are particularly cute), dogs doing acrobats, dogs that disappear. It’s almost like a summary of all the other acts tonight, but with dogs! Standing O from crowd, and they are handily voted through. In yo face, Wazoo!
S. Frank Stringham – This singing comedian balloon artist does a snappy rendition of “All of Me” as he assembles body parts from twisty balloons. He is XXXed out promptly by the judges, but “S.” as he likes to be called, says he wants to hear what Regis has to say about it. He then produces the cutest little balloon art Regis figure I have ever seen (and I’ve seen plenty). This does not sway the judges, however, and S. is out. He might not have won the million, but he’d kill at a childrens’ birthday party.
Rappin’ Granny – You can’t not love the Rappin’ Granny, she is beyond cute, but don’t underestimate her. Striding out in spectacles, a prim gingham dress and apron, I mistakenly think she’ll be rapping about apple pie and quilting, but she comes straight out talkin’ about sirens and gunfire and name checking like the toughest of MCs. Who knew Rappin’ Granny would be so hardcore? She says she started rapping because she hated it so much, but “Now I’m one of the homies.” She sure can blow the roof off the mother. Rappin’ Granny is “what this show is all about,” Piers says, possibly scared that she may bust a cap in his ass, before he reveals they’re letting her through.
That’s it for us for now; however, there were even more acts that got through to the next round they didn’t have time to show! They only briefly flash the folks onscreen (everyone from rock bands to tap dancers to hula hoopists) but I’m sure we’ll see more of them later. Until then, thanks for joining us for the premiere of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT. Peace out, word to your grandmother!
For nose flute lessons, please don’t contact: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com