AGT2 Ep. 3 Recap: Big Show in the City of Big Shoulders
My kind of town, Chicago is. After all, Chicago’s got the friendliest big city people in the world, great food, Lake Michigan, the Bulls and da Bears…but has it got talent? That’s the question this week as AMERICA’S GOT TALENT travels to Chi-Town in search of more million dollar acts. Coincidentally, it is the home of The Jerry Springer Show, but let’s not hold that against them. The Windy City is also the home of Second City and the Smashing Pumpkins, so there’s definitely talent to be found in that toddlin’ town.
Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out
Even though this is a family show, there are times when AGT can seem like a drug trip. A bad one. First contestant of the day, Consuelo Campbell (East Lansing, MI), is a composer/singer/academic/nutcase, with a penchant for loud scarves draped around the neck like a Nicole Miller-designed turkey wattle, and mixing musical genres, such as 6th century Gregorian chant with Blues and Gospel. Hey you got your 6th century Gregorian chant in my Blues and Gospel! And you got peanut butter in my early polyphonic florid organum! Well, as you might have guessed, these three great musical styles do not taste great together. While I admire her ambition to “embrace different forms, past and present,” Consuelo’s “original composition” (did anyone ever doubt that someone else would be batty enough to write this?) is a shrill, eardrum-busting caterwaul that earns her two quick X’es from Piers and David. Sharon is game enough to let Consuelo sing for a little while longer, until Consuelo hits a high note that Sharon interrupts with an X, perhaps saving millions of audience members potential inner ear damage. Sharon finds Consuelo “bizarre”; and Piers expresses my thoughts exactly when he describes her as “Hillary Clinton on acid.” Thankfully, we will hear no more from Consuelo as she will not be moving on in the competition. However, in an effort to comply with the equal time rule of television broadcasting, I think AGT should also feature other candidates on drugs, such as Obama on marijuana, Edwards on E, Richardson on heroin, and Biden on psilocybin.
Okay, so Gregorian chants and Gospel weren’t a hit; but how about martial arts and acrobatics? Sideswipe (Chicago, IL) is an “extreme martial arts” troupe consisting of four limber males who are very easy on the eyes. They look like a boy band, but kick ass like Jackie Chan; now that’s my kind of combo! An injury for one of the members forced them to leave the competition last year, but now they’re back and ready to show off their skills, like flipping 8 feet in the air and looking HaWt. Sideswipe comes out to great applause, especially when they strip off their t-shirts as they come onstage (I swear I see a little extra twinkle in Sharon’s eye). Come on, any act that begins with tops coming off has to be a winner! The next few minutes are a fast-paced, action-packed, whirlwind routine that takes breathtaking martials arts starts and incorporates with elements of acrobatics and dance to create one entertaining, high-energy display of coordination and agility. It keeps the audience cheering non-stop, and even impresses all our judges. “I like the aggression,” Sharon purrs, adding, “If you move this good at 9:30 in the morning, I’d like to see what you move like after midnight.” Pony up a million dollars, Sharon, and maybe they’ll oblige! The Hoff says they got his vote, and bestows upon them the highest Hoff honor of “Awesome!” Even cranky Piers says, “You keep that up, you’ll go all the way in this competition.” Forget about the competition; from the looks of things, if they can keep it up, they can go all the way with Sharon! We will definitely be seeing more of Sideswipe in Vegas (here’s to hoping they’ll consider stripping off bottoms as well as tops in the next round).
Country Boy Controversy
Amazingly, the judges have been in complete agreement so far! You know it can’t last, however; but controversy comes in the unlikely form of innocent, boy-next-door-looking Jason Pritchett (Independence, MO), self-proclaimed “starving artist.” This musician with the kindly manner strums his guitar and sings a gentle rendition of “Live Like You Were Dying” which Piers buzzes out for being “bland.” The audience enjoyed Jason, however, and boos Piers’ criticism. Sharon also disagrees; she loves his voice and the way he says “Ma’am.” The Hoff thinks Jason has a “great look,” “charisma” and a “beautiful voice.” Is the Hoff hitting on him? Piers badgers David just for giving his opinion; I can’t even blame the Hoff for coming back with, “It’s almost like he’s a bad pastor…” and mocking Piers’ importunate manner. “Who made you the boss on this show…Shut up!” David Hasselhoff scoffs. Ultimately, David and Sharon’s opinions outweigh Piers’, and Jason moves on to round two.
If last season of AGT was heavy on the jugglers, this season is lousy with ventriloquists. But wouldn’t you know this one is actually good, according to the judges’ feedback! And, in a cruel twist of fate, my DVR skips out on the only good ventriloquism act so far! At least Terry will be returning for the callbacks, so hopefully I get see his act next time around.
AGT: Making Little Girls Cry Since 2006
Francisse Elaine is an adorable little girl whose one dream is to become a singer. Is that her mom or sister backstage saying, “To me, she’s already won”? She is gorgeous! But I digress, little Francisse, nervous but excited, goes out and does her best rendition of “A Moment Like This.” Despite having such a powerful voice for a little girl, and making the audience cheer, the judges give her the triple X, making the crowd boo. The Hoff gently says it is a “tough song” and though she might “nail it” in the future, she’s just not ready yet for the show. When he adds that she was “nasally and all over the place,” Francisse’s face crumples in disappointment. “This is not a time to cry, because you did your best,” the Hoff consoles. Sharon also reassures Francisse that in a couple of years she will knock the socks off everyone. Piers is a little less gentle, scolding her for crying, “Show Biz is a tough old business; you want to be a star, you got to toughen up a bit…You have to just dust yourself down, stop crying, and say next time I’m going to be better.” Francisse leaves the stage, rivulets of tears still streaming down her face.
Francisse is not the only little girl to leave the AGT stage in tears. From little folk dancers to baton twirlers to…well, is that a girl or a one-man Hanson (if anyone remembers that band of pretty brothers from the 90s)? At any rate, it seems like the younger acts are getting a bad beat, until Butterscotch comes along. Sweet name, sweet face, Butterscotch (Davis, CA) is a female beatboxer who looks younger than her 21 years of age. She’s a shy girl who prefers to express herself through music than by talking. Butterscotch initially makes the judges nervous by walking out looking a little hesitant, and placing a lone banana on the floor. Piers asks what the banana is for, and she explains that she takes a bite of it if her mouth gets dry. Understandably, with the kind of acts AGT gets, who knows what a girl could do with a banana! Anyway, Butterscotch is no novelty act—she’s got real talent. She is an amazing beatboxer, who can actually sing and beatbox at the same time! She needs no accompaniment and rocks the house with her song stylings. Piers says that she is “really orginal” and “comfortably the best” beatboxing act out of all they’ve seen so far; David ups that by saying she is “the best [beatboxer] I’ve ever seen” and marvels at how the sounds that come out of her mouth are “effortless.” Sharon wholeheartedly agrees, calling her “timing impeccable” and deeming her “brilliant.” Butterscotch gets three eager yeses…all without having to take one bite of that banana!
An Englishman with Great Teeth, Singing Mimes, and Other Oxymorons
AGT gets talent from all over the world, not just the country. The next competitor comes to us from across the pond (by way of Wilmington, IL). Yes, Johnny England comes from exactly whence his name would indicate. Will being from the UK give Johnny an advantage with the 2/3 Brit panel? Only one thing is for sure, Johnny England could sure give Liberace a run for his money in terms of glittery formal jackets and a dazzling smile. Johnny, like Liberace, is a pianist, and claims to play the most notes per minute out of anyone he knows. He barely gets the chance to substantiate this claim, as he is very quickly X’ed out. To be fair, it’s only the Hoff and Piers who give Johnny the buzz—Sharon actually loves him, but Piers slaps her buzzer button when she’s not looking, which doesn’t quite seem fair. As Sharon yells at Piers for pressing her buttons (in more ways than one), David clucks to Johnny how “a fellow Englishman did that to you!” Johnny just barely conceals his hurt, and for a moment it looks like it’s not only little girls from whom Piers can glean tears. No matter how much Sharon loves Johnny, she is outvoted by David and Piers.
Danny Flores, a.k.a. Mr. Heart and Soul from Santa Rosa, CA is a mime…that sings! Something I’ve never seen before. And something I honestly have never had a desire to see or ever see again. Danny claims that he is the one who “paved the way” for dancers like Michael Jackson to do the moonwalk. Who knows, but he’s certainly dressed like something out of a nightmarish 1980s music video. He believes he is one of the greatest, most imitated entertainers in the world, and whether he’s lying or pathetically delusional is up for debate. The judges give Mr. Heart and Soul three X’es as the audience writhes in torture from the sad display. Blessedly, it’s no’s all around to the singing mime.
The Freaks Come Out at Night
Charlie King is a 36-year-old musician who practices the unique talent of singing in “harmonic overtone” which he says originates from the “middle of Asia.” Oh please don’t blame Asia for this. I hate to judge a book by its cover, but this man’s appearance screams CRAZY, from the Colonel Sanders tie to the scraggly hair coming out from every direction. He looks like someone who got turned down for a part in The Devil’s Rejects. And he turns out to be an AGT reject, with the judges all giving him X’es. Is it perhaps because his “harmonic undertone” sounds like Satan belching after a feast at Taco Bell? Piers finds it more akin to a “beached whale” he’d like to “harpoon.” David is reminded of a “giant singing frog”—Hello, my Baby! Charlie is a no go.
Cue the obligatory freak show montage! Serpentian is a rag tag group of either gypsies or homeless people who dance with snakes. “It is an interspecies dance,” the leader informs us. Is that legal here in the states? I thought this was the kind of stuff you can only see in German porn? L.A. Penetrator is a two-man group that isn’t really freaky, but isn’t really very good either. A man whose mother makes him glittery shirts sings in a falsetto that only a mother could love. Zaytar earns the dubious distinction of being “the most stupid” act they have seen on a show whose bread and butter are displays of idiocy. No, no, no, no, no!
Hoff in a Huff Over Shaki’s Stuff
After a string of freaky flops, a new act takes the stage in hopes of turning the tide. Luigi (Los Angeles, CA), better known as Boy Shakira, is a female impersonator who chose the beautiful Columbian songstress because he feels he identifies her life experiences. He loves that Shakira is an “original”—and even though Boy Shakira is an impersonator, he is himself something of a unique character himself. Although Boy Shakira looks more like Luis Guzman in a wig a pushup bra than Shaki, there is something strangely endearing and sweet about him. Accompanied by his supportive mom, Boy Shakira When he takes the stage, he is also a surprisingly good dancer. Those hip movements are good, and I have seen Shakira live, the routine really does capture the spirit of it! The Hoff is the first (and only) one to X for a change, but Sharon is smiling and clapping along, and Piers actually lets this act go through to the end. David doesn’t think Boy Shakira is worth a million dollars and is ready to dismiss him immediately. Sharon, however, says “you entertained me, I think you’re totally genuine, and I think you entertained the audience too.” Shockingly, Piers says that as Boy Shakira’s act went on, against his better judgement, “I began to rather like you.”
It’s final decision time. David says, “Absolutely 100% no.” Sharon hollers, ““Absolutely 100% YES!” Boy Shakira’s fate rests with Piers, and amazingly the normally grouchy Brit announces cheerily, “You’re going through to the next round!” Boy Shakira runs backstage to give share the moment with his mom, who says that all that she wants is for her son to be doing what makes him happy. Awww, it’s a Hallmark moment for Boy Shakira!
Outside, Hoff is in a huff over this decision, and walks offstage. Piers goes to talk to David in the Hoff’s dressing room, where he argues that Boy Shakira is “100% entertaining gold.” “Are you sitting on the same stage as me?” David cries out, incensed, “The world’s gone mad!” The Hoff eventually comes out of his dressing room to return to the panel. Perhaps he’s coming back drunk?
David’s still touchy as the next act comes out, Coolaid the Clown (from Los Angeles also…am I imagining things or are there more LA acts in Chicago than there were last week in LA?) who trains inner city school kids the fine art of krumpin. Coolaid and eight of his young protégés “get buck with it” all over the AGT stage. The Hoff is all smiles and loves the positive mission behind Coolaid’s act, “You represent America and I think America’s gonna love you!” Piers, in a contrary mood now, disagrees and thinks “it was entertaining for about 20 seconds if I’m honest.” The Hoff defends Coolaid, pointing out, “You got the people who voted Boy Shakira through!” The Hoff, however, is alone here. Sharon takes a pass on Coolaid as well, making Hoff stand up in anger over how the Brits turned down little inner city kids.
Defying Odds, Defying Gravity
The judges are in turmoil over what constitutes talent. Cas Haley (Arlington, TX) is a 26 year old singer/songwriter/musician who does not sound the way you would think from how he looks. He kind of looks like a big, bad bruiser, but the way he tears up over his wife and child is a clue to his gentle nature, the side we see when he strums his guitar and sings Sting’s “Walking on the Moon.” He has a wonderful voice and manages to keep the audience clapping and the judges engaged for his full time onstage. After a standing O from the crowd, Piers says, “You are what I love about AMERICA’S GOT TALENT…You walk on and I think, hang on, the beach is shut early, you choose a song which is a very difficult song to sing and it’s sung by a guy with a totally unique voice, Sting, and I’ve heard Sting at a private club singing that song, a cappella like you did, and he’s got an amazing voice…You actually sang it better than Sting!” Sharon thinks he is the first act she’s seen that’s close to the million dollars. The Hoff is blown away. Finally, the judges are again in agreement and all is right in the cosmos.
Next up are the 2nd Story Guys—will this unique act have legs? No ordinary dance troupe does their routine from atop six foot stilts. In blue suits and set to classic Motown tunes, the 2nd Story guys do some truly amazing things from their gravity-defying heights. Piers actually loves the act, saying it’s something he’s never seen before and they have a “long way to go in the competition” gesturing to their long legs. David “hates to agree” but he’s on board with Piers here, and so is Sharon. “You look like a class act, you perform like a class act,” Sharon concurs. 2nd story gets a 2nd chance at the Vegas callbacks.
They’re not the only gravity-defying act. The Calypso tumblers also amaze and impress the judges. We’ll see more of them in Vegas. A 15 year old hand balancer will also be returning for round two. An impressive baton twirler will also be back. A big swaying singing group also managed to sway the judges to bring them back.
Feathers Fall, but Fault Line’s Stable
Hot Pink Feathers are a “samba, cabaret and burlesque dance troupe” that look super cute but fail to wow the judges. Their glittery make up makes the Hoff’s eyes glimmer. Despite the Hoff’s gigantic, creepy, lecherous grin, he is the first to X them, followed shortly by Piers, then finally Sharon. “It wasn’t really up to professional standard,” Sharon opines, although she mentions, “You, little one in the middle, are the best dancer.” Piers says he’s been to the actual Carnivale in Rio and “there are literally a million girls who do what you just did better than you did.” “I was just thinking the same thing,” David says, again agreeing with Piers. The Hot Pink Feathers leave drenched in tears.
A cappella rock group the Fault Line (Ithaca, NY) hope to bring a cappella singing to an “edgier level.” Their version of “Some Kind of Wonderful” doesn’t strike me as particularly edgy, but it’s accessible and entertaining. Piers finds them “pretty good” although he doesn’t think their looks are “consistent,” saying that they seem to have “three cool guys and two nerds, but the nerds can sing so you can keep them.” The Hoff is amazed, saying it sounded like a track was playing beneath them. Sharon finds them “really unique” and is “in love” with them. The judges enthusiastically pass them through to round two.
Uh Oh, It’s Magic
After every couple of good acts, there have to be a few stinkers. Some guys fall, some paint themselves (literally) into a corner, some sing and speak backwards (it doesn’t work on the playback), some just break things.
Kevin James is a magician whose “specialty is using strange images to convey a sense of wonder.” He invents all his own tricks, which in the world of magic is quite impressive. He’s designed illusions for big timers like David Copperfield and Doug Henning. He begins his act by unveiling his “grandmother’s iPod,” actually an old Victrola phonograph that earns a little laughter and some groans from the audience. He then assembles parts in an old trunk to create a sort of paper maché Charlie Chaplin whose head rolls off into the audience. Is this part of the act, or a mistake? It turns out to be a lengthy bit of misdirection, because before our very eyes, the Charlie Chaplin model walks out a live, little midget. “You sure suckered us all in,” David slurs, sounding drunker as the day goes on. “You definitely had me, Kevin,” Sharon says. Piers says it was “great showmanship.” Kevin gets a hearty yes from the whole panel.
Making An Ass of Yourself for a Million Dollars
I’ll let Alex Moonie explain what he does: “I break miscellaneous items with my butt.” “You think you can break into show business with your butt,” David asks. “I’m here now,” Alex replies. Touché! Or should I say, tushy. Alex drops trou (thankfully he has both boxers and biker shorts on to prevent us from seeing him in the altogether), then sticks two pencils crosswise between his cheeks to break them both in half. That’s enough for Piers, who X’es him out shortly after. Sharon looks intrigued by Alex’s introduction of a ruler. Oh snap! I mean, literally, the thing snaps. Lastly, Alex bends a fork, real silverware, not plastic cutlery, between his bum cheeks. The Hoff buzzes him, but it’s too late. Piers says “I’ve traveled thousands of miles, given up seeing my kids for three months, made a number of sacrifices to come, as Simon Cowell put it, to find America’s next great superstar, and I get you.” He then calls Alex “a ridiculous waste of space.” Sharon thinks Piers is being a bit too harsh. The Hoff asks what Alex will break if they bring him back, and Alex replies that he will “break some hearts with a song.” Still, it’s no from Piers and Sharon, plus a “Butt out,” from the Hoff.
The next act is another type of cheeky; Ada Lynn (Chicago, IL) is “80 years young” and loves to kick, stretch, and kick! Well, maybe not, but this Sally O’Malley is a singer, dancer and comedian who has been in show biz for “a little over 70 years.” Accompanied by a pianist, this lady sings her little heart out in cabaret/vaudeville style, sprinkling her songs with one liners. Piers hits the buzzer and “almost [gives] her a heart attack” according to Jerry. Sharon thinks she’s ”unbelievable” and would like to see her again. Piers thinks despite being a real old Hollywood “trooper” he will pass on Ada for now. But the Hoff says yes, and Ada will be back for Vegas.
19 acts have made it through so far in Chicago. Is there room for sandwich shop manager, Mohammed blah blah blah blah (he rattles off a long name, but they list his name solely as “Kashif”)? “I am here to do the dance,” he says stiffly, claiming everyone loves his version of “Bollywood” style hoofing. Kashif launches into a spirited Bollywood routine, replete with lip syncing, that is made all the more interesting by his facial expression, which remains stone cold serious throughout. The crowd goes wild, and Kashif completes his act without a single X! Moreover, Piers calls him “the most extraordinary dancer” he’s ever seen, and says both he and the crowd loved him. The Hoff thinks it was “so different” it “mesmerized” the audience (he must not have ever seen any Bollywood films). Sharon asks if there are other dances he can do, and Kashif says he has different dances for different songs. Big yeses from everyone, and Kashif is through to Vegas! Will Kashif be the next Cinderella story (or Sanjaya) of AGT2?
And that’s it for Chicago, we are out! Next week, AGT goes to the city so nice, they named it twice, New York, New York!
I haven’t had a decent deep dish pizza since 2004: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com
Re: AGT2 Ep. 3 Recap: Big Show in the City of Big Shoulders
SfG, great recap! I was waiting for the banana, myself! In all my years of singing, I have never heard of partaking in a banana if I need to get my mouth moist!