Judges Sharon Osbourne (left) and Howie Mandel. (Virginia Sherwood/NBC )
Auditions continue in Tampa, Fla. and we’re off to a great start with a kiddie dance troupe called The Untouchables. They previously auditioned for the show with a bigger group, but the size proved problematic. Now they’re back with fewer people and the cutbacks have payed off. I mean, not only are they super lively and precise, 8-year-olds are lifting and spinning one another above their heads!
Judge Howard Stern, who has said at least three times this season that he normally fast forwards through the dance acts when he watches the show at home, calls them “captivating” and tells the cute, younger dancers that puberty is their “worst enemy.”
“Shirley Temple didn’t listen to me,” Howard says. “She insisted on growing up.”
Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne give The Untouchables big “yeses” and the dancers make it to the next round in Las Vegas.
Next up is Puppets on Hand, a trio of puppeteers who look like they’ve never been on a date. Howard is thinking the same thing because as soon as the guys troop onstage he asks if any of them are married. The puppeteers awkwardly say “no” after shuffling their feet a bit.
Then it’s time for their act. I hope they do well because I want a reason to feel less sorry for them. No such luck. The act is so bad, it’s almost painful to watch. Howard suggests that they drop their dream and we all just forget they performed tonight. That sounds good to me. The puppeteers gets three firm “nos.”
Two strange acts follow, both of which might give me nightmares tonight. First is a man dressed a scary clown/jester/Mad Hatter creature, who claims his talent is tearing paper. He has a container with him and just pulls out pieces of paper and unfolds them to reveal shapes and a small sign that says ‘America’s Got Talent.’
Next is a odd-looking man who is a supposed expert at “expressive air sex.” Think of someone playing an air guitar, but imagine he is trying to mate with the guitar. Horrible, right? Thankfully, the judges stop him before long and send him on his way.
A trip to Tampa wouldn’t be complete without an audition from a band of pirates. We meet Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew, a rapping quartet. Even before they begin rapping, their pirate impressions annoy Howard.
“I think I’m gonna have you walking the plank very soon,” he says.
The crew begins to rap and I actually think it would be a pretty good act for children’s parties or a cartoon. But on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ it’s really just a waste of our time.
“One of the challenges I have as a judge,” Howard says to them, “is coming up with ways to say the same thing over and over again: this is very stupid.”
Sharon and Howie give the crew “no’s” as well.
Up next is a lady who has trained a squirrel named Twiggy to waterski. It’s pretty cute, but after the squirrel’s third lap around the inflatable pool, it gets boring. It was way more interesting when Twiggy went to bathroom on Nick Cannon’s should earlier.
Howie loves Twiggy’s act, but Sharon and Howard aren’t buying it.
“It entertained me,” says Sharon, “but it’s not enough for an act.” Twiggy doesn’t make it through to Vegas.
In keeping with the whole Florida theme, a line of elderly people perform. Some swing dancers, some dancers dressed as cavemen and a cane-and-top-hat dancer. They’re all disasters and hip replacements waiting to happen.
Then we meet a 70-year-old, 4’ 10” man called Big Barry, who claims he’s singer. He seems sweet and looks funny in his little white suit, so I’m already rooting for him. But then he opens his mouth. The sound that comes out is almost like wailing, but it’s strangely entertaining. Half of the audience boos him while the other half claps and sways.
When it’s time for the judges to weigh in, Howard immediately dismisses Barry as a joke.
“Howard you’re wrong about this one,” says Howie. “This man is a character.” He gives Big Barry a “yes,” while Sharon gives him a polite “no.”
“I have a reputation of being cold hearted,” begins Howard as he contemplates his decision, “but there’s a heart that beats inside of here.”
I think Howard is bluffing and building up our anticipation just for fun, which be hilarious, but he yells, “You’re going to Vegas!” I’m a little disappointed, Howard.
More acts going to Vegas: The Scott brothers, a really sharp dancing duo; an R&B singer; a magician who makes a motorcycle appear out of nowhere; Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne impersonators; an armed drill team; American BMX Stunt Team; and Lindsey Norton, an acrobatic dancer, who, according the judges, exemplifies the American spirit.