America's Got Talent is back, and it's in the city where I grew up! Austin, Texas! I'm going to sit back and enjoy the nostalgia for a city I loved dearly and miss very much...
---and I am a little proud of my home town. You see.... I think it's found the winner. Mind you, I'm not saying it's found the best possible act... but the guy who is going to win this thing auditioned in Austin. Mark my words. I am calling it now.
Oh, Nick, get off that train. You will hurt yourself. Casey Jones, you are not. OK, Austin, it's your turn to shine. Show America the weird and wonderful place I know you to be. Oh.... Howie. Get off that longhorn. You will hurt yourself. A cowboy, you are not.
So we start with a very tiny boy who is wearing a really big sombrero. This kid is Sebastian Delacruz. He's part of a family mariachi act called El Charro de Oro, but they made him the spokesperson because he's the cutest, and he may speak the best English. Sebastian's mother is in the audience, bursting with pride, and she should... he is kind of adorable in that mariachi suit. As they begin, this boy lets out a powerful wail to announce that he's in it to win it, and the crowd is on their feet before he's finished the first line. OK, you know that boy who sang "I Want You Back?" This boy's got him beaten by a bunch. He's not just cute, he's genuinely a very good vocalist, with glory notes that make me smile. He gets a well-deserved standing ovation; it's so impressive that I don't care that I couldn't understand what he was singing in Spanish. I like the way Howie put it: He's a little male Mexican Jackie Evancho. And he's up there on that stage having a heart to heart with Howie about his love life! He broke up with his girlfriend so he could concentrate on his music! He's ten!
Is he moving on? Did the Queen of England have a big party this week? Yes! But he's not the act I think is going to win the whole thing.
OK, let's kind of fast-forward through the disasters that followed our Mexican cutie. A bad impressionist, an awful sideshow... and now a pair of Iranian acrobats called the Bandbaz Brothers. They show us some photos and I begin to hope for the best. Besides, the young guy is quite yummy eye candy. The older one lifts he younger one into the air upside down, balancing on a stick he holds in his mouth... OK, yeah, this act is legitimate. These guys have some very impressive upper body strength and physical control, although at one point they get so wobbly they alarm the judges. They don't fall, though, and the younger continues to go into various contortions while doing a headstand on the other one's head. It's very impressive and it has the audience on the edge of their seats. The elder, who will be 59 in August, came out of retirement to do this routine. Howard actually likes the fact that they wobbled; it made the act more exciting. I am slightly amused at the idea that they are more successful precisely because they were imperfect, but it's a good act, and they are through. If I have to watch dangerous stuff, I'd rather watch this than people dancing on glass. However, I do not think are not going to win this competition, or even get all that far.
Then we see a pleasant looking guy in a cowboy hat who is holding a guitar. He seems to speak with a slight.. uh, uh.... stutter. Who is this? Who is this?
This is the 2012 winner of America's Got Talent, folks. I will be shocked if he doesn't make the finals. He's going to have to get arrested to miss this. America, meet Timothy Michael Poe. He spent fourteen years in the military. His career ended in 2009 when a grenade gave him a brain injury that causes him to stutter. Cue the sappy music, and get out your handkerchiefs. He's a hero and he was disabled in the service of his country. He was afraid he was going to die. The music swells. Singing helps him get through the tough times... and oh, look, there's his loving and supportive fiance, who convinced him to audition.
He's so happy to be here on the stage. He's got the crowd behind him before he sings a note. He's nervous. And then... he's singing without a hint of stutter at all. I notice that when they flash his name across the screen, they don't call him a singer. They call him a war veteran. This is the angle they will push all season. I'd said the actual singing is pretty solid; he would not get thrown out of a honky tonk if he were the entertainment. But here's the kicker... everybody is crying. After all, the song "If Tomorrow Never Comes" is about what might happen to the girlfriend if the singer dies.... and he almost did, and there's his fiance', just watching him and being glad he's alive.
Just give him the money. This one is over. The standing ovation is incredible... and it's not really about the absolutely serviceable singing. I don't really agree with Howie that Tim is a phenomenal talent. I think he's a pretty good talent with a back story that makes Kevin Skinner look like a poser. And Sharon, the song he chose was perfect, not only for his voice, but for the situation.
I want to bet on this. I wonder where to go to do that, since I don't live in Vegas! It's going to take a scandal to bring him down.
After some more goofball nonsense, including Howie pretending to play the piano very badly, we are back with the act that has to try to follow Tim Poe. The Ganbaatar Contortion sisters combine some really shocking contortion tricks with strong, confident feats of balance; while they are not as touching as Tim, they are really very good and they are through to Vegas. Then we get another cute kid - in this case, piano-playing Edon Pinchot, head adorned with a yarmulke, who is clearly very talented and more than a little nervous. His voice is excellent and his diction is so poor I can barely understand him. When he hits the high notes, the audience swoons. He will go to Vegas.
And then we have one of these odd things that could only happen on this show. This woman turned out to be a little awful and kind of awesome at the same time. Louann is very overweight. It doesn't look too bad as long as she's dressed... but when she waddles out in a blue bikini, Nick's mouth opens so wide I fear some bug will fly inside. She fills the auditorium with shocked murmurs. In the bikini, she is Lulu... and she's a pole dancer.
I still can't tell if this was supposed to be funny or not. Surely she's got to know that the sight of her large form cavorting around that pole is kind of funny., and in some places, her weight makes her downright ungainly and graceless. Sharon buzzes her after a few seconds, clearly unimpressed. Howard gives up on her by the time she's climbing the pole... but Howie hangs on, and because he does, we get to see her perform a few tricks that didn't seem likely. She hangs upside down on the pole. She ends in a drop split I never saw coming or thought feasible. OK, Howie, thanks for letting her have her moment. She's not moving on, of course. I still can't figure out if she was hoping people would think she was both limber for a big girl and kind of funny, or if she just wanted guys with a fatty fetish to call her.
And then we get to see Nick dance the pole with her. That guy will do anything for a laugh.
Joe Castillo has one of the most interesting and unusual acts of the night. He draws with sand that is projected onto a screen. As we watch, he creates a picture of two people saluting a flag.... and then they are veterans, and then, suddenly, somehow the two people are only one, and she is the Statue of Liberty. And of course, as all this happens, we've got "Proud to be an America" going on in the background, making everybody very emotional and patriotic. Only America's Got Talent comes up with folks like Joe Castillo. This is kind of cool. It won't win, but it's interesting. Even Howard liked it.
What can possibly cap this all off? How about a human cannonball? His name is David Smith Jr. His father was a human cannonball before him. David makes it very, very clear to us how dangerous it is. How dangerous? Really, really dangerous. Let's make sure we are clear on that. Of course, he's been doing this for fifteen years, so I am going to guess he's got the knack. Everybody heads outside, where it is raining, just to make it all much more exciting. And more dangerous. Let's not forget dangerous. He's got an ambulance on standby. It's dangerous. But he's going to do this dangerous, dangerous thing in the rain, and... he goes in the cannon... and we have a commercial... because it's so dangerous... and then he shoots out of the cannon, and he lands very dramatically in a net, in a bounce that looks at first as if he's hit the ground. Nick panics! The ambulance lights spin! Calm down, Nick, He's fine. He's been doing this for years. But that will end the show with a bang. Besides, if he'd killed himself doing it, I bet it would not have been shown on TV. But he's not going to win.
Timothy Michael Poe is going to win, as long as his story is genuine. Goodnight from Austin!
Edited June 8, 2012
And if, as it turns out, his story is not genuine...