If you’re an insomniac like me, you’re likely familiar with that late night television staple: the infomercial, those protracted come-ons designed to convince you that you’ve got to have things you don’t really need, whether it’s a handy-dandy portable blender or spray-on hair-in-a-can. My favorite part of the infomercial? “But wait, there’s more!” And if there is one thing in this world that can be relied upon, it’s that there is always more. The same rule applies to reality TV, and tonight’s episode of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT is that “But wait, there’s more!” moment.
Yes, it’s the “Wild Card” show, wherein 10 acts are given one more chance to compete in the all-important million dollar finale. Our noble and right honourable judges (David Hasselhoff, Brandy, and Piers Morgan) will themselves personally champion 2 runner up acts each; the other 4 were faves from the audience vote. From this pool, 2 more lucky acts will advance to the finals, one chosen by the judges at the end of the show, and another advancing via yet another audience vote. Call in at the end of the show and not only will you vote for your favorite act, you’ll also get this handy-dandy recap, all for the low, low price of $19.99!*
Nathan Burton, if you recall, was the magician who got bumped by Bianca Ryan, despite a bravura performance that culminated with him leaping out from behind the judges and startling them, possibly causing one or more of the panel to poop their shorts (I have no proof for that latter assertion, I just like starting rumors). Prevously, he had already set the bar high with an electrifying magic act involving a large microwave; still, Nathan is determined to step up his game and “prove that magic is entertainment.” Uh, Nathan, when did anyone ever argue that magic was not entertainment? Isn’t that pretty much all your type of magic (illusion) is good for? I mean, it’s not like it’s real, useful, Harry Potter-type magic, right?
If one thing can be said about Nathan Burton, it’s that he definitely brings variety with each appearance. All of his performances have been completely different. Tonight, Nathan’s show starts out a bit more intimately, with Nathan sitting on a stool near the audience, folding and tearing a paper napkin into one large snowflake. He then takes the snowflake, immerses it in water, then rubs his hands together to produce a snowstorm from his fingertips. A blizzard of snowflakes flakes flies out from his hands. A pretty illusion, but it’s been done (it’s a vintage trick, and David Copperfield has done this with a more heartwarming story in an old act).
Then Nathan’s lovely female assistants come out dressed in cute snow bunny suits to do a sexy, and mis-directing, dance, before Nathan makes a gigantic snowmobile (topped, of course, with another lovely snow bunny) appear suddenly on top of a seemingly empty platform. “The only snowmobile in Las Vegas,” Nathan quips—oops, old habits die hard with stage patter I suppose. “Or Los Angeles,” he adds quickly. Nice save, Burton.
Nonetheless, Nathan is a consummate professional, and his act again wows the judges. Literally. Brandy stammers, “Wow…wow…” after pressing her check button. Piers asks Nathan to “transport one of those snow bunnies to my trailer afterwards,” which in any other place would sound like a bribe or sexual harassment, but here passes for charming banter. Piers commends Nathan for being “different,” “fresh,” and “original” each time he comes back “and you always have unbelievably beautiful women with you.” That description makes Nathan sound like such the pimp! Piers leaves Nathan with big, pimpin’ check-a-doodle doo. The Hoff also likey the ladies, and lecherously moans “Santa Claus is coming to town” into his microphone. Ewww, what does he mean by that? If it’s anything to do with coming down a chimney, I’m not even gonna go there. The Hoff, not surprisingly, gives Nathan an enthusiastic check.
Badfingers: The Legend of El Snappo
Time for Piers’s first personal choice, who is, surprisingly, not a young, babely, scantily clad female, but Bobby Badfingers, who is not so young, not so babely, and thankfully not scantily clad at all, but dressed in a crazy Zorro costume, replete with cape and hat. Or, in Spanish, El Cape-o and La Hat-a. You remember Bobby Badfingers, surely, the master snappist who despite being appearing at first blush utterly ridiculous, performs his finger-snappin’ routine with such verve and passion that he is able to win over even the most cynical of judges (myself included).
Bobby has also made his act bigger and better with the accompaniment of “Dueling Banjos” (played live by a banjo and a guitar, er, wouldn’t that be “Dueling Guitar and Banjo” then?) as he snaps away with his distinctive enthusiasm and gyratin’ dance moves. So you think you can snap? Not like Bobby Badfingers, who can transcend his moustache, and even the fact that I can’t hear this song without thinking of (“Squeal like a pig!”) Deliverance [shudder] doesn’t take away from Bobby’s snappy, crowd-pleasing performance.
Piers says Bobby is what AMERICA’S GOT TALENT is all about, “someone with a totally unique talent, who is incredibly entertaining.” Piers says he doesn’t know if Bobby will make it to the finals, much less the million, but Piers finds him “hilarious” and gives him a check. The Hoff and Brandy are also fans, and give Badfingers cheerful checks.
Brandy’s first choice tonight is Jessica Sanchez. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because we’ve never had a chance to see her before (although I do remember her sad, little face in the audience when her name was not called during the semi-finals). It’s a good thing Brandy decided to give Jessica a chance to “shine tonight”, because this sweet 11-year-old girl from San Diego is quite possibly the great undiscovered talent of AGT. She wants to make everyone proud of her, especially Brandy and her dad (who’s currently serving in Iraq).
If Bianca Ryan is referred to as “The Little Girl with the Big Voice,” Jessica Sanchez is even littler, with a bigger voice. She sings “I Surrender” with real feeling and great vocal control (i.e. not just shouting the words for the sake of showing off technical skill), and though I am not a Celine Dion fan, Jessica’s version of the song gives me chills.
And I’m not the only one who found her performance moving. The audience gives Jessica Sanchez a standing ovation and the entire panel high-fives her. The Hoff, bowled over, says he can see why she was asked back tonight, describing her as “fantastic” and saying she had “the spirit and the passion and you looked me right in the eye and I bought it. Mabuhay!” As impressed as the Hoff is with Jessica, I am even more impressed that the Hoff knows Tagalog (mabuhay is literally “long live” in the Filipino language, and is a general exclamation of goodness, kind of the “good on ya” of the Philippines)! He gives her a check.
Brandy’s pick has not let her down, and not only does Brandy give Jessica a check she says emphatically, “I promise you, you’re gonna be huge.” Piers admits he thought Brandy was mistaken when she first selected Jessica for the Wild Card, however, despite his thinking she was flat the first time she performed, he feels that she “kicked it up a gear” and has “star quality” that other acts they’ve seen seem to lack. He asks, “Do you think your worth a million dollars?” he asks the little girl, who shyly answers yes. Just when I think Piers is about to tell her to get emancipated from her parents in order to make it, he gives her a check.
All That and a Bag of Clogs
All That is the group of cloggers that didn’t make it through to the finals but, but still won second place in the amount of votes received from America. Their mission is to entertain, but they also have a few secret surprises in store for Piers, who last time criticized their casual choice of wardrobe (which, I agree, looked like they threw on whatever they could find to paint the house). But no matter what they’re wearing, you can’t deny that these boys can clog.
This time, All That makes a dramatic entrance with one dancer appearing to be “airlifted” in by a helicopter (he’s lowered by harness while the shadow of helicopter blades swoosh dramatically in the background), and the rest appearing in the audience. The big surprise, however, is that they’re wearing black suits, which they cheekily show off for Piers’s benefit before ripping the jackets and pants off (thank you, inventor of Velcro, for making ripaway pants possible) to reveal that sleeveless tees and camo pants must be on sale at Costco!
After clogging their little hearts out in a crowd-winning routine, it’s time for the judges to have their say. The Hoff tells America that he watched All That as they were “leaving on a truck that one day” and noticed that they had “a little bit of tears in your eyes, and I said ‘It’s not over till its over.’” Um, thanks for that inspiring story that not only portrayed us as a bunch of weeping girly-men, but informed us that you are also a creepy stalker. Hoff gives them a check, and they give him a restraining order! Brandy loves them, thinks they’re “hot” and asks to be their “homegirl.” Oh the hypocrisy. She doesn’t like it when women rip off clothes onstage, but when a group of cute young guys does it, she asks to be their clog toy. Check. Piers checks them too, and cites them as evidence that AGT is more than freak show and is a true display of talent.
Keep on Harping
The next act is the Hoff’s choice, the beautiful Corina Brouder, harpist/pianist and angelic singer with gorgeous hair. She is tonight accompanied by her equally beautiful, angelic, and gorgeous-haired sister (What did their parents feed their children, enchanted Lucky Charms?), who assists her with a double-header of “Danny Boy” and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” that is sure to have Irish people crying and Elvis fans sighing.
The judges’ response is a little confusing. Brandy says, “You had me at the beginning…but then the whole thing fell apart at the end,” then still gives her a check. Mixed signals, much? Piers says he felt it worked, and gives Corina a check, but then David curiously says he “kind of” agrees with both Brandy and Piers (what on earth does that mean?) but feels she has something special (can you be more specific)? and thanks for coming (didn’t you ask her to?) and awkward mumbling (huh?) then a check (what just happened?). Even though Corina gets three checks, she looks just as confused as I feel, kind of like when someone tries to politely break up with another by saying, “You’re so wonderful, you’re so great, but I don’t want to be with you anymore, you’re fantastic really!” Not that you’d know what that was like, Tiger.
Quick Change…for the Worse?
After a quick plug for next week’s Miss Teen USA pageant (the contestants of which are in the audience with Regis), audience favorite Quick Change performs. David and Dania are the two performers who baffled everyone with their unique transformation act, which they reprise tonight. Quick Change is a wonderful act, but by now, the third viewing, I can call out from memory which outfit is coming next: blue ball gown, then red feathered costume, followed by yellow and black fringe mini-dress, etc.
They perform the act flawlessly each time, but change almost nothing, save for giving Dania a different wig, David a different cravat, and making the finale dress a Union Jack this time (in honour of Piers). It’s not enough. Piers says, “Three times we have asked you to come back and do something a bit different and three times you have steadfastly refused to change the act…Are you deaf? Are you dumb? Or are you just so arrogant about that act that you feel that’s all yo have to do?” Yikes, did he need to be quite so harsh? David responds, “Don’t ever call me dumb,” in a tone that sounds like if it weren’t for the propriety of the stage, the audience, the cameras, and studio security, David would be unleashing a wild pack o’ whupass on Piers right about now.
David defends them as being the only act of their kind in the competition, with a truly unique concept behind it. David even makes a slight stab at Nathan Burton saying “You want to see an elephant or a snowmobile onstage, take a trip to Las Vegas.” There is a long, nasty argument before Piers buzzes them with the big X. Brandy defends Quick Change and calls Piers “dumb” before Piers has to point out that last week she agreed with him, saying they needed to change. Brandy says she meant “Change the clothes, the Quick Change is the act.” She says they do it the best, because she still can’t figure it out, and gives them a check. The Hoff gives them a check and a bit of advice: they don’t need a change a damn thing (hey, if it worked for his career, why not theirs?).
Everybody in the Whole Cell Block Was Dancin’ to the Jailbait Rock
Piers’s second choice tonight is N’versity, the pop vocal group with the cute girls, so-so voices, and stupid name. Pronounced “nah-versity,” is it meant to allude to “university” (which clearly they need more of, considering their basic English skills, or lack thereof). Is it supposed to hint at their “diversity” (they are three multi-ethnic singer dancers)? It certainly doesn’t explain why these “wholesome” teen girls are dressed in way that moms will loathe and dads will (secretly, guiltily) love.
The child whores do a slutty rendition of “My Prerogative.” N’versity, was it your prerogative to gyrate provocatively onstage in a skirt that allows the world to clearly see your panty size (and no, sheer leggings do not count as pants), or your closet pedophilic manager? That’s not even the most offensive thing, what bothers me most is they really can’t sing that well. They still don’t seem to interact well together either, it’s like they are all
The Hoff likes their “choreography” (oh is that what they call it these days), describing it as “hot” and “tighter” (I’m not even gonna go there); but even he admits the singing is off. Still, he gives them a check. After blasting them for dressing too revealing onstage the last time they performed, Brandy is “proud” of them tonight (even though to me it looks like they’re wearing less—and no, le, and gives them a check. Piers tells them, “I think this show probably came about two years too early for you” (which is basically admitting they weren’t that great) and says, “Come back in two years, you might well win it.” Still, he gives them a check, then offscreen, Piers marks their birthdays in his calendar; by then they’ll be just about Barely Legal.
Shake ‘n’ Bake
After the Lolita crew, it’s refreshing to see itty bitty Natasha Le, a little girl who looks like a little girl, but plays piano like a seasoned old pro. Tonight she’s decided to mix classical with a little rock and roll. She starts with a classical key pounding before kicking her bench back to play what I think is a Jerry Lee Lewis number (hey, didn’t he marry his underage teen cousin—he would have loved N’versity) and exhorting the audience to “Shake, baby, shake!”
Unfortunately, Natasha’s mixed performance gets a mixed response. The Hoff tells her she “kicks ass” (which strikes me as an odd thing for the Hoff to say to an 8-year-old girl) and gives her a check. Brandy enjoyed it, and gives it a check. But Piers didn’t like it, and prefers her as a classical pianist, and rags on her singing, saying, “The only thing shaking were my eardrums.” X from Piers. To her credit, Natasha doesn’t cry, but smiles as if she knows that despite being 8, she probably could kick Piers’s ass (perhaps that’s what the Hoff meant).
You Remind Me of Me (And Apparently, I Hate Me)
Brandy’s next pick is pretty and charming Alexis Jordan, who Brandy thinks is talented, but has made poor song selections. So Brandy thinks she deserves another shot. “She’s talented, beautiful, and she reminds me of me when I was a kid,” Brandy says, oh-so-humbly. [Self-flatteringly delusional:] It’s why I love watching Angelina Jolie films, because it’s like looking in a mirror!
Alexis gives “I Believe in You and Me” her best shot. The Hoff thinks the song was wrong, but gives her a check “because you’re a doll.” Brandy, however, is all about the tough love approach. She rips into Alexis, again saying she felt Alexis was trying to be “too old” and her “pitch was everywhere.” Then Brandy gives her own choice an X, devastating Alexis, and making her family (in the audience) cry. Gah! Then , in a strange, bizarre twist, Piers gushes over Alexis, deeming it “brilliant” and saying he loved the performance and has the potential for stardom. Check from Piers! Brandy accuses Piers of just “doing this for television,” probably just smarting because he just made her look like the Wicked Witch of the Westsiiiide, boy!
The final act of the night is introduced by David Hasselhoff, as it was the Hoff’s own personal pick. In a lengthy, rambling, possibly drug-fueled speech, The Hoff gushes over Leonid the Magnificent. While he compares Leonid to The Exorcist (saying “you don’t know what’s in there”), the question is really, what possessed the Hoff? Leonid’s been quite clear about who he is, it’s the Hoff that seems ever more mysterious.
Speaking about being clear with his identity, Leonid makes a dramatic entrance to the tune of “I’m Coming Out.” As his name suggests, he is a magnificent sight, lowered onto the stage on a big ring topped by a glittering mirrorball and an even bigger, glitterier (is that a word?) headpiece that reminds me of the showgirl skit in “I Love Lucy.” Leonid never fails to get a rise from the audience, and does a completely new act, dancing with multiple golden hoops, and getting progressively more undressed. Of all the strippers I thought the Hoff would have picked, I’d have guessed Michelle L’amour, but I guess I was wrong! By the end of the act he is in neon green corselette, stockings and garters, knee-high dom boots, short shorts, with tape over his nipples before he he bends over and twirls a golden hoop using only his booty. Now that’s talent! It’s a show stopper that gets the crowd to their feet. Leonid seems to have especially impressed the Miss Teen USA contestants who are hooting and cheering like girls at a bachelorette party.
For judgment, Leonid changes into his version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” bridal outfit and rolls around the stage like a pinup model, cooing “Vote for me.” Piers says Leonid is like a “boomerang” because “Every time I try and throw you away, you come back.” He doesn’t think Leonid has any talent (which I don’t think is fair, considering Leonid has actually done three kinds of acts: balancing, acrobatics, and now hoop dancing), and says he could only win “America’s Got Absolutely Ridiculous Imbeciles” (isn’t that a FOX show?) and X’s him out. Leonid serenades Piers with “Jingle Bells” to remind Piers about the Christmas invitation he extended on an earlier show. The Hoff gives Leonid an X, despite being the one to bring him back, because he says that Leonid is starting to scare him. Leonid asks if he’s not man enough to handle him. Brandy is apparently man enough, and she gives a check. Leonid throws the Hoff his bouquet to thank him for bringing him back, while the Reeg admires Leonid’s green outfit. Maybe they could trade some clothing some time, like Reeg’s corset? Leonid flies off into the night on his mirrorball perch.
All That Jazz
Judges pick All That to advance to the final. Now there’s only one spot left for the million dollar finale. Who did America choose? Tune in 9pm on NBC Thursday to find out, or read another fine recap by MotherSister.
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