Ok, so I took a month off. First we had the Olympics, and then we had a week of Youtube garbage that I think Howard wishes we could erase, and then I got out of practice, but I am back, and the show was actually really quite good this week, so let's recap.... America's Got Talent, the Semifinals. (Part One. )
For this round, we will play a drinking game. Whenever the judges remind us that Only Three Acts Can Go Through.... drink. Whenever the judges then plead with us to vote for the act currently on the stage.... drink. Whenever it becomes really obvious that the math does not match.... chug the whole bottle.
Schounds lik fun. S'whendo we schtart? How about now.
Howard begins the evening by making fun of Howie and Sharon's corny little hand gestures. Howie's got some contrived little thing, and Sharon's got her contrived little heart (which makes me possessive because my mother and I actually did something like that when I was a kid, and I thought myself so creative at the time) and Howard swoops and slides his hands and ends in a vulcan symbol and we all remember that he's the only one of the three of them with any sense at all. This has been quite a surprise to me.
Then Howard remind us that Only Three People Can Get Through. (DRINK!) Therefore, the judges will have to be more critical of each act. Everybody left is pretty good, or they have an amazing sob story. Howard feels they've reallly got to be more critical and fine tune this. This means, of course, that the judges will be begging us to vote for two thirds of these people before the show is over. I guess the bright side is that when they DON'T beg us to vote, we know for sure that person is toast.
Nick then announces the first act, the act the producers most desperately hope will be buried by the sheer number of people following him before voting begins, and we see that they've given this death slot to... Andrew DeLeon.
Holy cow. This fan favorite with the incredible sob story? Why? Why would they want to bury him like that? Why? Because he's not actually that good yet, he should not be here and he's coasting on sentiment, that's why. I thought his wild card performance was absolutely terrible - breathy, screetchy, and entirely amateur. Do I believe that he's completely untrained and he's taught himself how to sing? Um, yes, yes I most certainly do. Well, here he is, still selling himself to the masses by looking unkempt and creepy in a strategy that appears to be working for him. The blue contact lenses do a great job of distracting the viewer from his amateurish technique.
Nick says he has a totally unique voice, which I would disagree with. I think Andrew is a very talented but very poorly trained countertenor, and I've heard better. Actually, Chris Colfer could probably take him to the woodshed, but I am beginning to mix my shows here.
Andrew is basking in the idea that other people now like and accept him. See, buddy, you came out of your room and talked to folks. At this rate, you might actually develop social skills, and if you do, you win. I mean that sincerely. Next, take that great untrained voice of yours to a music conservatory and let somebody teach you how to use it before you hurt yourself and ruin your song forever. Howie points out that most opera singers have been properly trained. Andrew admits that his base musicianship is so poor the people hired to accompany him were about to tear their hair out.
So how does he sound? Well, he sounds like a crazily talented, untrained countertenor with great potential and rotten technique, as his voice soars quite beautifully through certain parts of Ave Maria and screeches at other parts. I really, really wish Prince Poppycock was here to do this right.
Howie: In this technique of singing, I think formal training is much more important than in pop music... Only Three People Can Go Through (DRINK!) and Howie hopes people vote for Andrew. (DRINK!) (That's one contestant that the judges have asked us to vote for.)
Howard: There are times when I feel the whole thing is getting a bit strange. You are a remarkable story, but I wish you had a little more training.
Sharon: Realizes that his wildcard performance was... "off." Then the wife of Ozzy Ozbourne suggests that Andrew take off his makeup and contact lenses so that people will take him more seriously.
Andrew stares at her like she just asked him to take off his clothes. The audience boos and Andrew tells us that the judges are all entitled to go fuck themselves. No, sorry, he thinks they entitled to their own opinion.
Nick introduces Todd Oliver, soon to be harassed by PETA for abusing his dog, Irving. People want pictures with the dog rather than with Todd. Howie points out that Todd's going to need decent material for this to work. Howard tells us that Todd needs to do topical jokes.
For this act, Todd has made himself the host of a talk show, the Todd Oliver Show. His first is that famous, funny mongrel, Irving, who does him the huge favor of not pooping on the couch. Todd has somehow learned how to write funny material, and by the time Irving is up to musing about Prince Harry's crown jewels, I am roaring, and so are the judges. The jokes are rapid fire and clever, and the audience is on its feet.
Sharon: We know who your daddy is, and he's right here. (Howard.)
Howie: You are possibly a headline act.
Howard: Not possibly. You ARE a headline act. But Only Three Acts Can Go Through. (DRINK!) Howard thinks this act should go through. (DRINK!) This is now the second person the judges have begged us to vote for.
Nick reminds us that Donovan and Rebecca are incredibly physically strong. Howie reminds us that they are strong. Howard reminds us that they are very strong. Donovan tells us that they are going to show us how strong Rebecca is. Gee, I hope this turns out to be a strong act.
They are. She is. They perform stunts that defy gravity. She does a handstand on his shoulder. She flies on her trapeze and lifts him into the air. They somehow turn into a human table, resting only on Rebecca's legs. They make my flabby abdomen muscles hurt, just watching them, and they end with a trick that I am surprised did not end up strangling them both.
Another standing ovation.
Howard: This is a spectacular, spectacular act. You are fabulous in person.... on TV, it doesn't translate so well.
Sharon: I've got some cheese, but I don't have a cheese grater. Can I rub it on your abs? I hope people pick up the phone and vote for you. (DRINK!) This is now the third act the judges have begged us to vote for.
Howie: With Only Three Acts Allowed to Go Through (DRINK!) you certainly deserve to be one of those three. (DRINK!)
Ok there are our three acts. I guess we are done here... wait.... there's more? But... I am already getting a little woozy...
After the break, the judges harass Nick as he tries to do his job, and we find that the next act is Edon, the Jewish kid, who is dealing with the idea that he's getting marriage proposals over the internet. Sharon says he loves what he does. Howie thinks he's got an old soul.
Edon sings "That's What Makes You Beautiful." By the time he's finished the first verse, I think he's toast, because the song begins much too low for him, but when he hits the chorus, his voice soars and a teenaged heartthrob is born. Take that, Justin Beiber. Chicks dig the yarmulke. The song choice is young and romantic and rather perfectly tuned towards preteen girls. I don't think he's going to advance any further, but I could see the producers smuggling him out of here and over to next spring's American Idol. If only the background music wasn't drowning him out.
My seven year old son begged me to vote for him.
Howie and Sharon are on their feet, and the audience is SCREAMING for this kid.
Howie: That was BEAU-TI-FUL! That was amazing! You are the best singer in the competition! Heh. I bet Andrew DeLeon loved hearing that.
Howard: Every thirteen - year - old girl is going to vote for you. I was a little bit bored by that song.
Sharon: I thought the song choice was spot on! You are amazing!
He is a personable, talented kid, but he's also the first act the judges have not actually begged us to vote for. There Can Only Be Three. Bye bye, Edon.
The Scott Brothers, a terrific dance act, have figured out that sob stories get votes, so they tell us that their mother had a stroke, and that this might be the last time she ever sees them perform. Gee, in the clip it looked like she was hanging in there pretty well, actually.... but never mind, because now they are painted grey, stiff among a set full of mannequins. Then they are doing their signature robot moves in unison as they escape from their store window and dance in perfect sync with each other. It is technically amazing... but it's not as much fun as their last dance.
Howard: It started to feel very similar. I don't think it's going to be good enough this time.
Sharon: Only Three Can Go Through (DRINK!) It's a really hard week.
Howie: What you need is one move, one move. I didn't see that one move tonight.
The judges have not begged us to vote for them. The Scott Brothers are toast.
We learn that Eric Dittleman has been asked to drop his first name. He's just "Dittleman" now, and we get a little too much information. He's living with his parents and he has no girlfriend. You would think a mind-reader would know what the chicks want...
Howard is standing on the stage to the side of the picture Dittleman created of him during the first audition. Dittleman tells Howard he's not going to look (but I bet he has somebody talking in his earpiece) as Howard chooses a green marker. Dittleman asks him to color in his face. Then Howard chooses an orange marker, which Dittleman doesn't look at, and Dittleman asks him to color in the sunglasses. Howard chooses a blue marker, and Dittleman, his back still to Howard, has him color in his hair. Howard picks up a red marker, and Dittleman has him add devil horns and facial hair.
Not content with shocking Howard, Dittleman gets America into the act by asking us to think of a geometric shape, like a square.... but not that. Now think of another shape around that. OK, so I am thinking of a shape that is not a square, and then of another shape around it... how about.... a triangle with a circle around it? Yep. That's what he's got. He's got a triangle with a circle around it. I am going to guess that this is one of the more common configurations that comes up when test subjects are asked to perform this task. This is good research, not mind-reading, but he baffled me for a second because he "read" my mind correctly.
Oh, and when he takes the drape away from his version of Howard's picture, we see that he's preselected the same colors Howard used to color the same body parts: green skin, orange sunglasses, blue hair, red horns. The audience erupts in cheers. That's a pretty cool party trick, although they've explained how he did that on Television Without Pity.
Sharon: Diddle, diddle, diddleman. That is absolutely amazing.
Howie: What fascinates me most about is that you can control America, but you can't find a girlfriend or move out of your house. Only Three Acts Can Go Through (DRINK!). Get to your phones and vote! (DRINK!) Dittleman is the fourth act the judges have asked us to vote through on a night when we can only have three. (CHUG YOUR DRINK!)
Howard: I was not bored tonight with this. We have exceptional talent tonight on this stage. We are Only Voting Through Three Acts. (DRINK!) He deserves to go through! (CHUG YOUR DRINK!)
Dittleman has a standing ovation. He promises a finale for America.
After the break, it's Turf. We are reminded that he's even more of a sob story than Andrew DeLeon - living on the streets, contorting his limbs for the amusement of others, scraping along in poverty, and Howie informs us that nobody wants it more or is hurting themselves more to get this than Turf is. Maybe, Howie, but it hurts me to watch him disjoint himself, and I still would rather pass. Turf feels like he has to win the competition or... he'll starve to death? Dude, I think you have kind of made your fortune already. You are the most famous contortionist in America now. Ringling Brothers will be calling.
Sharon thinks he needs to dance more in his act, and Turf wants to oblige her. He has indeed thrown in a couple of very simple dance moves to go with the whole grotesque human pretzel schtick, and he does have one very cool moment when he does a back flip. There are lasers flashing around to make the whole thing more exciting, and he ends the show on his back.
Howie: You, to me, are the best dancer in the competition. (I disagree with this.) You need votes, and I want people to dial.... Turf is now the fifth act the judges have asked us to vote through on a night when we can only have three, and the third act for Howie alone. (CHUG YOUR DRINK!)
Howard: Only Three Acts Can Go Through. (DRINK!) Howard has figured out that Turf does the same act over and over again.
Sharon: You pulled me right back in again.
Turf reminds us that he's poverty stricken so that we will vote for him, and we go to commercial. Nick reminds us that There Are Only Three Spots. (DRINK!)
Bria Kelly was one of the less pathetic acts from the horrific Youtube night. She was not terrible on one of the worst nights of television I've ever watched, but as she goes into "Perfect" by Pink, I realize she'd have had a hard time getting through the initial rounds of the show and she's completely outclassed here. Maybe they can put her on American Idol with Edon.
Sharon: Uh, you've got a great voice.... but.... uh.... that song needs some emotion...
Howie: Tells her flatly that she made this semifinal round because everybody else during the Wild Card Show sucked. This week... not so much. The unlucky thing for you, talented lady, is that you are surrounded by super talent tonight. American Can Only Choose Three Acts. (DRINK!)
Howard: I think your voice did stand out. Technically, your voice was stronger than anybody else who sang tonight. (Notice that he does not suggest she should actually move on. He's just telling us that she's better than Edon and Andrew, which is true.) This girl is not moving on.
Joe Castillo wears a beret and draws beautiful pictures in the sand. He now has a huge amount of support for the beret. Joe tells us that he wants to tell epic stories in the sand. He is drawing to "Get Together" by the Youngbloods, and we watch a musical staff become two doves, and then two clasped hands. He adds more sand, and a face emerges. It is a child. The sun streams behind him, and then the sun becomes another face. Then the face is another person, hugging the child. I agree with Sharon. Given the other work that Joe has done on his website, I'm pretty sure the child is being embraced by Jesus. It's every bit as magical as every other performance he's given, but it's pretty much the same act.
Howard: This will be a tougher evaluation because Only Three Acts Can Go Through. (DRINK!) The audience is going to think they've seen all this before.
Sharon: That's not a bird! That's Jesus holding a baby! Everything is so good, I try to be better after I see what you do.
Howie: Howie accidentally compares Joe Castillo to the Beatles. I enjoy you each and every time, and I hope America... (gets drowned out by the crowd, but I think we should probably DRINK! for the sixth act the judges have asked us to vote for, and the fourth suggested by Howie.) I actually vote for this a couple of times, but only a few, because the act I've been waiting for is up.
William Close is in the house, and he's brought his Earth Harp. William goes for the sentimental vote by showing us his baby son, and Howard tells us he's the frontrunner. William wants to do well for his family. He's brought four new instruments because of the constant need to step it up, and his girlfriend is now in the act. William begins by playing his lady like she's a violin before moving on to this extraordinary harp of his. Girls bang on a unique twirling globe drum... thing... and singers sing an original song. The whole thing is new and different and gorgeous, and excuse me, but I need to stop to vote for a second... I can't snark on this, or even describe it properly. The video will almost certainly be on the America's Got Talent website soon. Dude, I'd pay money to experience this live.
Howie: You are our favorite! You are deserving of winning the entire competition! But people have to vote! (DRINK!) Only Three People Are Going Through Tonight. (DRINK!)
But Howie, you've already asked us to vote for Andrew and Donovan and Rebecca and Dittleman and Joe Castillo.... this Top Three is beginning to get a bit crowded. It's the seventh act they've asked us to vote for, and the fifth suggested by Howie. (CHUG A LUG!)
I am with Howie on this one, though. If that Earth Harp leaves tomorrow, I might just cry.
Sharon: I hope the people at home got the enormity of this. I cannot wait to see your next performance, and everybody's got to vote, vote, vote! (DRINK!)
Howard: You are the frontrunner. You are doing it by the book and you are winning.
William explains that he's combining sculpture, architecture, dance, music, and the kitchen sink.
Tom Cotter talks about his dad supporting him. That's the best he can do for a sob story, since he's kind of a stable, workmanlike, professional guy. But he's got a cute gimmick. He's got ten categories written behind him, and he's going to pretend that he's relinquished control of his act. Of course, what he really has is ten 90 second sets, and he will perform whatever set Howie chooses for him. It's not quite the same as making jokes up on the spot, as he seems to be suggesting, but it's a good gimmick to get the gig started. Howie chooses college as the category, and Cotter feigns surprise. College? Not parenting? "Damn you, Dittleman!"
And with that rather clever joke, he is off and running into what is obviously a very well rehearsed, polished string of jokes about college life that features one huge laugh line after another. He gets in fourteen huge guffaws in ninety seconds.
Howie: OMG! It was like you've been rehearsing that bit for years. (He probably has, Howie.) You also deserve votes. (DRINK!) OK, we've been asked to vote for eight people now. It's the sixth suggested by Howie.
Howard puts Tom to the test by asking him to do a joke from one of the other categories. Politically incorrect? Can you do that? Yep. Homeless people used to be bums and next year we will call them "outdoorsmen." He's got them all covered. Howard tells us that if Tom doesn't get the votes, there's something wrong with the show. (DRINK!)
Sharon: I really liked your material tonight. It was slightly more edgy, and I'm dirty.
Tom's stomach urges us to vote for eleven. I would, but I spent them all on the Earth Harp.
We end with The Academy of Villains. Crystal and C.J. inform us that they are in love. Then we learn that one of the dancers broke her kneecap, and that's their sob story as they begin to show us a troupe of very well synchronized dancing clowns. They are technically as good as the Scott Brothers, but there are more of them - 30 in fact. It ends with a shower of balloons.
Howie and Sharon stand. Howard does not.
Sharon: You remind me of a modern Buzby Berkeley. I just hope that everybody picks up the phone and votes for you. (DRINK!) Final tally: we've been asked to vote for nine of the twelve acts this evening. Edon, the Scott Brothers, and Bria have all got to feel very left out.
Howie: You are my favorite dance troupe I have ever seen in any season of America's Got Talent. VOTE AMERICA!!!!! (DRINK!)
Howard: Only Three Can Go Through. (DRINK!!) I'm going to rain on this parade. I was bored.
Who will move forward on America's Got Talent?
1. William Close and the Earth Harp
2. Joe Castillo
3. Tom Cotter
4.The Academy of Villains
5. Donovan and Rebecca
11. Andrew DeLeon
Remember... there can Only Be Three. If two of them are the Sob Story Twins, Andrew and Turf, I may throw a shoe at my TV.