America's Got Talent? Yes, it's silly. Yes, you see atrocious crap on there that nobody else would ever inflict upon you. You also see sparkling bits of genius nobody else would ever give audience. And at the end of it all, it's always won by a cute guy with a guitar whether he sings on key or not, because the closer it gets to the end, the more it gets like American Idol. American Idol is no longer capable of choosing a winner who is not white, male and straight. America's Got Talent will look over the most amazing and innovative group act in the world in favor of a singer who is white, male and straight. In the next few weeks I'll be evaluating every act that gets to Las Vegas, and I will make a guess as to how far they will get until they meet up with the winner, who will be a white, male, straight singer.
Yes, I know I missed a few weeks. I've been busy, but I'm all about this now, so let's GO! We'll start with what happened this week. If I've already missed the straight male singer who is going to win, well, that's my loss, but we will see all the good stuff, anyway.
Introduction! We've got Howie! We've got Sharon! We've got a horrifying weasel named Howard that I've been avoiding for years, but he's found me now. And we are in... Tampa Bay, Florida.
First up... an urban song and dance group from called Inspire the Fire. from North Carolina. They say they've been compared to the Urban Glee, and I find myself looking for a black Kurt and dreading a hispanic Blaine, but these kids are real and they don't have any terrible writers ready to scuttle their dreams. They are trying to give urban kids a positive goal, and that's already a win as far as I am concerned. They start to sing and dance, and after about two choruses I am thinking... OK, A++++ for civic responsibility and backstory. Singing and dancing? About a B. This is nice. It is not amazing. They are a Glee club. They are all minorities. They really do not suck. But the fact that they are here doing a constructive, positive thing is a wonderful event. They are doing a great thing... pretty well. And of course they are moving on. I do not think they will come anywhere near the finals. I would not mind being proven wrong.
Then we have The Bikini Bombshells. Who bombed. See, it's called America's Got Talent, not America's Got a Healthy Sex Drive. We have four really pretty girls in bikinis who are hoping very much that the audience is made up of drunk straight men who haven't had sex in awhile. They... uh... move to music a little. Howie really, really wanted them to be good. Really, really. Sorry, Howie. These girls would not make a high school drill team. Howie kept his hand off the buzzer and let them finish their routine, but he was the only one. He thought they were terrible, atrocious - but he loved it! Howard suggests they get a rich husband.
Now we have a montage of loser acts, including eerie, creepy costumed characters who would give my son nightmares and an old guy who wants to be Edward Scissorhand...no, really, he just wants to be on television. There are a lot of those. Then we have a stream of angry red Xs over various crap until the judges fight. There's a fair to middling ballet dancer who needs to be doing this with a girl, and after the third X Sharon says he needs a partner, so Howie volunteers. See, this is why America's Got Talent is kind of great. I don't think Simon Cowell would get onstage with a singer to pretend to perform with them. The trick to creating a cheesy, silly program is to understand that it's cheesy and silly, and to embrace that.
After the break we've got these seven burly macho guys with tattoos who have some kind of act. What are these manly manly men going to do for us? They are called All That, and they are going to... clog. I'm sorry, what? They are going to CLOG. SERIOUSLY? Like, Riverdance? Like... yes, and don't you dare laugh. They've been doing this for fourteen years, and they are crisp and precise, and really quite good. The audience roars, the Xes stay silent, and they are through to Las Vegas. Sharon wants them to teach Ozzy. I would pay money to see that.
There's a very pretty lady who does a nice job with some hula hoops, and she gets through to Vegas, although I doubt she will get any farther, followed by a pretty amazing magician named Jonathan Rolly whom I wish had been given more time to showcase his tricks for us. He did his magic in a whirlwind and disappeared to the Vegas Line in a heartbeat. Then we have a bunch of cute shirtless guys who call themselves Boss. They've got the same idea as the Bikini Bombshells, but with a twist... they can actually dance. They came, they danced, they flamed a little, and they are on to Vegas.
After the break we meet a cute little boy who tells us how LOUD the Xes are, and then we hear some more Xes for bad acts just to prove him right. Escape artist Michael Griffin appeared to be a legitimate escape artist in his first introduction. He certainly talks a good game, and he asks Howard Stern to come tie him up. Howard goes all cranky and growly and says he's voting no, but Michael soldiers bravely on. Howard will tie him up. Nick will be the Official Time Keeper. So Howard starts tying this guy up, and he's not nearly as good at it as you might expect. Sharon is bellowing instructions from the peanut gallery. Howard gets his scarf caught in the rope. Finally, the guy is all tied up, and Howard gets to sit down again. Griffin starts shaking like he's having a seizure, and the audience starts to boo... but, in fact, the tremors loosen the ropes on his feet. He's so graceless and ungainly - at one point he tips the chair over - that all three of the judges X him... just as he indeed breaks free from the rope. So here we have three Xes for a successful act as the crowd goes wild. He got free in 26 seconds. However... Howard isn't any good at this. Could Michael Griffin have escaped from real knots tied by somebody who knew what he was doing? We will never know, because he is not moving on.
Nick is seen in the crowd outside, speaking to a group of older gentlemen in suits who call themselves The Distinguished Men of Brass. They are from Tampa Bay, they are mostly over 50 years old, they are all gentlemen of color, they all have band instruments, and they are all wearing suits. Their leader explains that they were doing gigs in a local theme park when they lost their jobs. This is now their job; they have turned their misfortune into an opportunity. And they are... a pretty unique marching band. They play those instruments while dancing in place and singing "I Like it Like That." Nick loves it, the crowd loves it, and I think they are probably the best thing we've seen tonight. Sharon is very pleased that they created this opportunity for themselves, and they are through to Vegas. I don't know how far they can get... I think they will survive for awhile, but I don't think they will win. They are not a white straight male singer.
And there's this old guy who has fallen asleep in his chair as he waits. Wow, if this were a snoring contest, he'd win for sure. Somebody rouses him, and he tells us amiably that his name is Ulysses and he's a singer. He's only 49; the gray hair and the whole sleeping-in-a-chair thing made him seem older. He's wanted to be on TV since he was watching the Ed Sullivan show as a kid... every move this man makes just screams "big old dork" and it looks like he's going to be a joke contestant, especially as he waxes poetic about how he used to love corny old TV shows. How much does he love them? Well, apparently, they are going to be his act. He launches into a rendition of - get this - the Theme Song from the Love Boat. It's corny. It's cheesy. It's dorky. The only thing good about it is... uh... this man really does have quite a beautiful baritone voice. He'd be a huge hit singing The Love Boat on a cruise ship. Maybe that's his angle; he's hoping that some Royal Caribbean is coming to hire him after they see him do this. He is not winning this, of course, but he's got the crowd on his feet in no time. Howard buzzes him anyway, because he's an old crankypants, but Howie and Sharon let him finish. The crowd goes wild. Seriously. Howard doesn't think this is a million dollar act, and he's right, but dude, it's just the first round. He was in tune and everything, and it's kind of funny how dorky and competent he is. Ulysses says he does a variety of genres in his act; I wonder if he'd be as effective doing the cruise ship singer thing singing some other song besides The Love Boat. Howard has read my mind. He wants to hear Green Acres.... Oh, yeah! Ulysses can sing that! And then, Howie realizes that this is what's going to put Ulysses through to the next round - theme songs as his primary material. That's his schtick. Howard, still unconvinced, asks to hear The Addams Family. Yes, he can do that! By the time they are up to Dada da DAH, the crowd is on its feet. Howard still votes no, but Howie says yes, and Sharon isn't going to argue with the crowd. Ulysses goes to Vegas. He will be eaten alive... or he will find a stage that will take him forever.
And that's my first episode of America's Got Talent. I will bet money we did not see the winner today. Turn in tomorrow for more news from Tampa!