America’s Got (a little) Talent…A Post for Shrewspeake

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I recently discovered that I’m not the only person watching “America’s Got Talent” (AGT) on NBC this summer…nor am I the only person admitting to watching it.My dear friend and drinking buddy, Shrewspeake, watches the show and said she wanted me to do a recap. Well, Shrew…this post’s for you.

I’m only three days late with this post and I apologize, but it was a doozy of a thing to digest and put down in print. This show, which is basically the talent show from hell, is the biggest mishmash of acts and cheesiness I’ve ever seen. It has the feel of “The Gong Show“…with a better budget and bigger stage…but minus Chuck Barris…which is a sad, sad thing.

Every show on television should feature Chuck Barris…or at least Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris…or just Sam Rockwell. I love Sam Rockwell…gorgeous.

But back to AGT.

This past week’s show was week three of the semi-finals. Two acts a week are chosen to compete in the finals for a shot at winning $1 million. One choice is decided by the show’s three judges: actor/singer David Hasselhoff, actress/singer Brandy, and token Brit Piers Morgan (pictured sitting above, right to left, with host Regis Philbin standing). The other choice is made by the viewing audience, via phone votes. Acts who have so far made the finals are yodeler Taylor Ware and acrobatic dancers Realis, both judges choices, and harmonica prodigy L.D. Miller and his guitarist brother and Asian-American boy band At Last, both public choices.

As random as Brandy, Piers, and the Hoff seem as judges, they really are needed. This show…with its myriad variety of acts…is difficult for audiences to acclimate to. The acts are so different from one another that the judges help bring them into focus for the American public. Through a system of Xs and √s, the judges give a thumbs down (X) or thumbs up (√) to each of the 10 acts that perform each Wednesday.

It’s such a confusing and inaccurate process that each of the judges have at least once pushed the wrong button…or had one of the other judges push their buttons for them. For some bizarre reason…this too-casual format reminds me of the 1970s’ Match Game…where viewers were always guaranteed to laugh with glee at the antics of such B-list stars as Fanny Flagg and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Only with AGT…the antics aren’t as clever.

AGT host Regis Philbin has that Gene Rayburn feel but the other stars lack the chemistry of the Match Game crew. The Hoff seems to be a nice enough guy (despite his divorce and alledged drinking) with a sincerity that matches. Brandy hasn’t found her rhythm yet. She wants to be supportive but at times she comes off as too easily impressed. On the other hand, she has laid down the law for certain acts…being very outspoken (and rightly so) about their abilities. I prefer the latter Brandy and hope she surfaces more often.

AGT producers are trying to make Piers out to be a Simon Cowell-type…but it’s not working. Piers is not really that acerbic…he’s just honest. His assessments are fair and above board…and his criticisms are actually helpful. Plus his street cred as a caustic Brit is tempered by his handling of the children on the show. He can’t come out and be an ass to kids…America would chew him up and spit him out. So he has to be brutally honest…in a kind way…which he does…rather gracefully.

I do like, however, how the judges work together…unlike on American Idol. The viewing audience is treated to behind-the-scenes shots of the Hoff, Brandy, and Piers talking about the acts and whittling them down. Even if this is all staged (which it probably is), at least the judges have more invested in these performers than just seeing them perform on stage and giving one quick 20-second assessment each week.

One last general critique I’d like to give before getting into the recap is in regard to the studio audience, which is made up of actual audience members and the contestants on the show. Since many of these acts aren’t necessarily kid-friendly, it’s common to see a stripper or transvestite…dressed in full stage garb…sitting next to Johnnie Q. Kid. I don’t like this and want it to stop. Mini-rant over.

On to the show.

The two-hour Wednesday performance show kicked off with an introduction of the judges. Brandy looks very Pocohantas with some crazy braids. The Hoff is in his cast from his shaving accident, and Piers looks like he is sooooo happy this show isn’t being shown on the shores of his home country. I don’t blame him.

Then all of a sudden…Donald Trump shows up. Regis keeps calling him “The Trumpster,” and Donald does what he came to do…plug “The Apprentice”…which really needs it ‘cause…yawn. I hate cross promotion…it makes my ass twitch.

For the second week…we’re subjected to David saying “Hassle the Hoff.” I want to shout “Stop that, David. It’s not funny.” But then I realize I would be hassling the Hoff with such a statement so I decide to let it go.

The first act of the night is Team Acrodunk, a five-man extreme dunking act that mixes basketball and gymnastics into a motivation act for school kids. A few of them dropped down from the ceiling to begin the act and then do flips in the air before dunking basketballs in an on-stage hoop. Overall, it’s pretty cool…almost as cool as it is boring. Maybe this could be a Vegas act…but then maybe this is reason why people prefer shows that feature singing and dancing…not dunking. I think these guys should stick to performing in schools, but the judges give them three √s.

On to the second act…a gray-haired guy from Alabama wailing about possibilities. He’s gritty…he’s soulful…oh, wait…he’s Taylor Hicks. It’s the Ford commercial. (Sadly, this ends up being the best act of the night.)

After Taylor Hicks is Caitlyn Taylor Love. (Am I just uber-sensitive to the name…or is everyone named Taylor right now? I’m thinking of changing my name so I can be part of the in-crowd.)

In Caitlyn’s pre-clip, she tells us she’s 12 years old and recently won the Miss Texas Jr. Pre-Teen pageant. Her goal in life is to grow up and make her family proud. Awwww…gag. She walks out on stage with hair and a dress that are both at least 10 years too old for her…but it doesn’t really matter because she starts to sing “One Moment in Time” and I realize that she is terrible. I’ll let her have this one moment in time because unless the American public decides to vote for a kid who swallows her words and falls flat throughout a song…she ain’t progressing to the next round. Brandy and Hoff both wuss out and give her √s, but Piers is a man and, deservedly, gives her an X.

Sonia Lee of Michigan is next. A Korean electric violinist, Sonia was once the youngest principal violinist to play with The Three Tenors. Maybe they will hire her back…because she sucks, too. Actually, she’s a good violinist but her style, delivery, and song choice are poor. It took me a minute to place her song…then I realize…it’s the theme song from America’s Got Talent. If I had one of those giant hooks…I’d pull her off stage. Boo. Plus, in her effort to sound edgy…she is very squeaky and frantic. Piers gives an X but Brandy and Hoff disagree and say they liked her energy. They give her two √s…obviously they realized she wasn’t going to be voted through to the next round, so they were being kind.

Elliot Zimet, a cutie pie hip-hop magician from the Bronx, NY, wheels onto stage next. Bringing a youthful approach to magic, Zimet has a sexiness to him that reminds me of Bill S. Preston, Esq. His act involves lots of birds but little pizzazz. I’m sad ’cause I wanted to see him again. All three judges agree…and give Zimet Xs (although Brandy tries to score a date with him. That’s a pretty major diva move…“I think you’re act is crap…but you’re hot…so why don’t you take me out.”)

Ten13 Concept hits the stage next. They are a band out of Gainesville, FL, that features guitars, brass, and lots of jumping…lots of jumping. They sing an original song, “From the Stereo,” and are very messy and amateur. They receive three Xs, but are very gracious about it.

This next act actually makes my skin crawl. The 73-year-old Rappin’ Granny, Vivian Smallwood, from Los Angeles walks out dressed like Irene Ryan from “The Beverly Hillbillies“…except…Vivian is black. All I could understand of her rap was “diaper rash” and “ass me no questions.”

An angry grandma…isn’t that an oxymoron?

Although her breakdown was painful to watch, all three judges give her √s. Hoff says he “kneels to the granny”….and I’m officially creeped out. Brandy thinks Vivian can win, and Piers says no one was more entertaining tonight (obviously he missed the Ford commercial). At this point…I want to club myself with my own remote control. This is total bullshit, and I’m hating myself for wasting time watching the show.

But I continue on…for Shrew.

Comedic magician Nathan Burton of Las Vegas has an act that features four scantily clad girls in plexiglass…locking himself in a box…exiting the box as a paper doll…then jumping from the crowd blowing a whistle and scaring the crap out of Brandy. I know…it sounds terrible…but it’s totally fun and fast-paced. I forget about Rappin’ Granny and love the show once more. The judges love it too and give Burton, who strangely resembles a young Tom Arnold, three √s.

The next act is one I was waiting all week to see. Eleven-year-old redhead Bianca Ryan of Philadelphia previously sung “And I’m Telling You” on the show and totally kicked ass. She decided to rock out this week and I was very nervous when she began “Take A Little Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin.

Listen…Joplin was brave to take on that song….so no one…no one (you hear me Faith Hill?) should ever cover this song. NO. ONE. (Well, maybe Susan Tedeschi, but that’s it.)

The first verse for Bianca was pretty rough but she did okay on the chorus and ended strong. Having three back-up singers helped a lot. She got three √s but the judges also gave her the most constructive and thorough criticism of the night…saying she should stick to her R&B gospel style. I have to hand it to the girl, she was very poised in accepting the judges feedback and I think that will bode well for her as she pursues a career in singing…which she definitely needs to do.

The next act was the worst of the night. Kenny Shelton of Alpine, CA, juggled balls of fire and torches to “Tequila”…while balancing on my last nerve. In the pre-taped interview…he came across as very short-bus-oriented…maybe that’s why the judges gave him three √s. So sad.

It’s nearly two hours since I began watching the show and I’m saved from doing damage to my television by the second Ford commercial of the night. Aaaahh…Taylor Hicks is the balm that soothes my frayed nerves. How I love him.

Finally, we come to the final act of the evening…Trey Knight’s Stilt World. This dance troupe, which performs on 4-foot tall stilts, is beautiful and interesting and colorful…until…one of the chicks falls flat on her butt. This pretty much seals their fate. Brandy and Piers give Xs and the Hoff gives a √. When Hasselhoff is your only defender…you’re pretty much screwed.

Before the show ends…the judges must name their choice to progress on to the finals. A second contestant will be chosen from phone-in votes.

In a show of ridiculousness that rivals Britney Spears teaching a parenting class…the judges choose the Rappin’ Granny as a finalist…and I’m once again thrown into a fit of rage.

Bianca Ryan and Nathan Burton were the most entertaining and polished performers…plus neither relied on novelty. Maybe the judges realized Bianca and Nathan would do well with the public vote but I think that was a risky move…leaving it up to the American public.

—-

On Thursday night, the AGT Results Show aired.

Regis walked out in a slick gray suit with a silver tie and announced that AGT is the number one show in the America…mmmm…really?

He then introduces the judges. David, still wearing a cast on his right arm…which must be impeding his fine motor skills…because his shirt is unbuttoned practically down to his navel. Ack…I feel lunch coming up. Brandy has UFOs handing from each ear, and Piers tries his best to be snotty by “teasing” the audience with an announcement that big news will be revealed later in the show.

After a recap of the performances from the previous night, Regis announces “fresh from ‘Pimp My Walker’” Rappin’ Granny, who comes out and tells everyone she’s a breast cancer survivor and that, if she wins the $1 million prize money, she’ll give it to breast cancer (I assume she means breast cancer awareness or research…not just to breast cancer) …oh, and she’ll start a record label.

Then we are treated to the “Crazy Caliber Talent” which is a nice way of saying that these are acts too pitiful to feature as actual talent but who are going to be made a mockery of anyway.

Act one is Arthur Nakadi of Pasedina, CA. He’s a one-man band of voice, harmonica, guitar, keyboard, tamborine, drum machine, and a tremendous lack of talent. He says he has worked 30 years on this act and then breaks out into “LaBamba” and all I can think is how I wish I could give him a coupon to redeem the last 30 years of his life.

Zach Freeman of Albequerque, NM, then comes on stage with his sound machine. He records his own voice as a human beat box and then adds melody and harmony…a la KT Tunstall’s live version of “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” He’s actually pretty good and gets my vote…which really means nothing.

Another one-man band, Bandaloni (a.k.a. Paul David), marches on stage next. He sings “Hey Good Looking” and pretty much stinks.

Maylene Garcia then comes out and performs “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the glass piano…a weird spinning thing that sounds like a carousel pipe organ..only incredibly more annoying. My poor dog winced in pain…as did I…from the piercing sounds she produced.

Finally Duane Flatmo of Eureka, CA, comes out and plays the mariachi guitar with a hand mixer. I’ll admit…I laughed, but do I think this act deserved the audience vote? No.

Did any of these acts deserve time on the stage? No.

Flatmo got the studio audience vote, which means he’ll join the other selected “crazy” acts at the season’s end in a “crazy” showdown. Can’t wait for that one…good times…”crazy” good times.

After a commercial break…which did not feature Taylor Hicks…came Piers’ big announcement. There will be an additional wild card show in two weeks for the acts that didn’t initially make the finals but that got the second highest audience vote and judges’ votes. Huh?

Then we were treated to Jurrasic 5…a hip-hop group who looked very preppy but who weren’t half bad.

Finally, all the acts were whittled down to the top two vote getters…Nathan and Bianca…big surprise.

Both performed again. Nathan’s act was even more fun than the previous night’s…ending with Regis in a life-size Barbie Box wearing a corset. Bianca sang her original competition song and did okay but was off pitch and very nervous.

And the selected finalist is…Bianca Ryan. I cheered for Bianca and then quickly tried to turn my television off…but was not quick enough…as I was subjected to another performance by the Rappin’ Granny.

Cripes.

Whew! Feedback from y’all will dictate if I do any more of these weekly recaps of AGT.

Granted, future recaps won’t be near as long (I wanted to make sure to be thorough with back information in this recap) but they will probably get snarkier once these acts have to step up their game!

At this point…I’d put my money on the public voting for At Last. Although I love the Millers and think Bianca Ryan is pretty amazing…I don’t know if either have a broad enough appeal to win.

We’ll see.

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14 Responses to “America’s Got (a little) Talent…A Post for Shrewspeake”

  1. suzi-q Says:

    I am not waiting for others, I want to be first on record that this is the funniest take on a critique I have ever read in my life. I have tears in my eyes and Shell I think I’m getting a headache for I laughed so hard just imagining this show as I never saw the first one and now I can say “Thank goodness”. I tell you what I don’t need cable I can get the WHOLE show by just reading what you write:) U R D BST:)

  2. Shrewspeaks Says:

    First let me say thank you for enduring the pain of watching this…for the requested recap. I honestly felt guilty half way through reading this. I was going to apologize to your readers for requesting this, but then….Bravo…This is a DAVE WHITE worthy critique!!! I say amen to the snarky-tude….bring it on girl.

    Could I love you even more? Sam Rockwell..ahhhh. MatchGame and Gong Show (we do know each other) and then the Tonic of Hick’s singing for Ford.

    I get what I want, I get what I need, Possibilities!

    Thank you!!!

    Verfication word of the day “jfhlzp” which is farsi for “Don’t Hassle The Hoff”

  3. TALK! Says:

    Wow, Shrew, Dave White worthy? I’m flattered…honestly.

    I’m willing to give this another shot next week…barring any repeat performances by the Rappin’ Granny.

    Actually, I think next week will be easier since I won’t have to do so much explaining of the process.

    Glad you liked the Rockwell, Gong Show. and MatchGame references.

    Sam Rockwell is sooooo hawt. For anyone who hasn’t seen Matchstick Men…leave the computer now and go rent it.

    You can thank me later.

  4. Shrewspeaks Says:

    Matchstick Men…If they haven’t seen Confessions of a Dangerous Mind….they must, perhaps the best Rockwell moment. Silly, complex, charming, disgusting…brilliant.

  5. suzi-q Says:

    MMMMMMM Guy, rocks the house:) Of course you know my favorite movie that my fifteen year old refuses to let me watch while he is in the house, “Galaxy Quest” oh yeah, baby, along with my second favorite actor “I’m going to see if there is a pub!” Alan Rickman!

  6. TALK! Says:

    MMMMMM….Alan Rickman.

    “Give me an occupation or I shall run mad.”

  7. Quossum Says:

    It sounds fascinating. I saw a YouTube of the belting kid and was impressed–you think she would give Kat McPhee some singing lessons?

    Today at church I mentioned that I would miss next Sunday because I’d be on my way to Mississippi, and someone asked, “So whaddya think of that Ford commercial of his they’ve got playing every five minutes?”

    “It doesn’t come on often enough!” {BG}

    –Q

  8. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Can’t stand the show, but loooved the recap. Hilarious!

  9. bamaborntxbred Says:

    You have to recap this weeks show. I saw a commercial last night and The Hoff is supposed to SING!! Please! Please!

  10. TALK! Says:

    That’s all I needed. Your wish is my command. 😉

    By the way…did you watch Hell’s Kitchen?

    Brilliant…so glad Sarah is GONE!

  11. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I hated Sarah with the fire of a thousand blazing suns. I really hope Heather wins. So, yeah, I watched HK…and kept flipping to Treasure Hunter’s to watch the hot Air Force boy and Southie Boys.

  12. TALK! Says:

    Ha! I gave up on Treasure Hunters after the episode where Katie whined like a 3-year-old that she couldn’t go on…but then her mom came back for her in the boat and she was all like happy again.

    Geesh. She made me sick.

    I’m all about Hell’s Kitchen…Last Comic Standing…and America’s Got Talent.

    Oh…and I’ve been downloading “Project Runway,” “Queer Eye,” and ….shh, don’t tell anyone…”Kyle XY.”

    Am I a bad person?

    P.S. I WILL be watching the Biggest Loser and, of course, “American Idol” this fall.

  13. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I started watching PR and KXY too. I really like them both. I also watch LCS…I like Chris the best. I watch Rockstar Supernova…it’s really very good. I didn’t watch last year b/c I thought it sounded dumb…but it rocks…pun intended. I adore, love, can’t stand to miss an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s so bad-to-the-bone. I love dancers. I wish I was a dancer…but I’d have to get off my ace to do that. I’m in love with this guy Benji on the show. He’s a cutie patootie.

    Basically, if you are a bad person…I’m going straight to H-E-double hockey sticks in a hand basket.

  14. TALK! Says:

    I haven’t watched “SYTYCD,” but I WILL be watching “Dancing with the Stars!”

    As for LCS, I liked Chris, too, for a while but then he really was dirty in one of his routines (and slammed Christianity) so now I’m rooting for Josh.

    And I watched Rock Star last year and was devasted when Marty didn’t win. I enjoyed it but it lacked a certain something for me.

    I think I was totally pissed when this one guy tried to tackle “Tempted” and BUTCHERED IT!!!

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