Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'America's Got Talent': If I can make it there…

For the final week of auditions, America's Got Talent came to New York City, the city where America's dreams of the stage begin, and, in many cases, die. But who cares about the ones who fail, unless they're so appallingly bad as to make good TV?

Take, for example, the Pennsylvania Hand Band. They had two guys in tuxes who claimed that they were classically trained. But that was neither here nor there, unless you can be classically trained in making fart noises with your hands. The other member of their group, by the way, was a man in a giant hand costume whose entire job, as near as I could tell, was to stand around in a giant hand costume. Clearly, these guys were never going to make it, but the Big Giant Hand assured their place in the final cut of the episode.

So remember last week's drama over Boy Shakira, the act that the Hoff hated and Sharon and Piers put through anyway? New York brought about exactly the same thing, thanks to Leonid the Magnificent. You may remember him as the guy who auditioned last year wearing a pair of angel wings and some body paint; this time he was dressed as, I think, an Aztec priest wearing body paint. Again, Sharon and Piers said yes, and again, David stormed off. And again, I agree with David Hasselhoff. It was cool that Leonid refused to apologize for who he was to David, but the fact remains that the act was baffling. (What was with the girls with chains?) By the way, it feels strange enough for me to say that I agree with David Hasselhoff, but what's even stranger is that I seem to be making a habit of it.

Some of my favorite acts of the night:

  • Illmatic Styles: You will be inspired by this dance troupe. From the moment that the tearjerking strains of "I'll Stand by You" assailed your ears in the intro clips, it was pretty obvious that these guys were going to sail through and provide a great story. And they did; one of their members, Luka, aka "Lazy Legz," had a muscular disorder that left him with little mobility in his legs, but he came out and spun and jumped around along with the rest of his crew. They were a good act, but Luka and his crew would have been just as inspirational without the show telling us how inspirational they were.
  • Philadelphia Plowden: A stand-up comic who was brave enough to do an entire set about Hurricane Katrina. I wasn't sure at first, but he got in some pretty good barbs. I'd like to see what other material he's got.
  • Glamazons: They were the plus-size Pussycat Dolls, according to – well, everyone – and their performance of "Lady Marmalade" scored a point for normal-sized women everywhere. Thank you, Glamazons, for giving me the confidence to eat that cookie dough ice cream in my freezer.
  • Three Redneck Tenors: Another one of those unexpected gems. Three guys came out in ridiculous mullet wigs, sang an a capella version of Beethoven's Fifth, and it was actually fabulous.

And while we're on the subject, there were a couple of acts that I appreciated for what I will freely admit are frivolous reasons. One was Rubberboy, a contortionist who inspired the line of the night from David Hasselhoff: "You hurt me, Rubberboy." (I'm going to try to use that in casual conversation.) The other was The Great Throwdini, a "dangerous creepy reverend" (Piers' words) with a knife-throwing act. The act itself was all right, but what I really loved about Throwdini was that he went by the same stage name as Dave's knife-throwing nemesis on NewsRadio. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you owe it to yourself to find out.

Meet you back here in two weeks for the Vegas callbacks!