Secret shame time. I've been watching America's Got Talent all summer. I started watching it to see how Howie Mandel fared attempting to fill David Hasselhoff's shoes. And then... I just can't explain it... I just kept tuning in. Week after week I watch people show off their various levels of talent and I hate to admit it, but I'm sort of fascinated to see what unfolds next. I'm hoping my interest will wane once they get to the Vegas semifinal rounds and people are actually talented, because frankly it is just embarrassing to admit that I watch this show... and I can't even really blame it on my job. Surprisingly though, I've actually learned a few things from this show this summer, which makes me feel slightly less ashamed. Slightly.
Don't judge a book by its cover
I know, this is a famous old adage, but it is especially true with this show. When I saw a young man dressed up like the Scarlet Pimpernel in full on pancake makeup, and another tiny young man who didn't have a firm grasp on the English language, both claiming to be singers, I wrote them both off as jokes. Turns out that they both had amazing operatic voices. Go figure.
Sneezing with one's eyes open is not a talent
There amount of absurd abilities that people have (crossing their eyes to music, playing a turkey baster as an instrument, etc...) and that they feel the need to share are just astounding, but a man literally showed up on stage and tried to sneeze on cue (by putting a Q-tip up his nose) and keep his eyes open while doing so. He was unable to complete this task (claiming stage fright), and managed to gross Howie Mandel out with the prospect of swine flu in the process... and I didn't even get to see if his eyeball popped out of his head. Sad.
That I don't really hate Howie Mandel
His antics on Deal or No Deal with the fist-pumping and the over-enthusiastic way of dealing with contestants annoy me to no end, but here, he's kinda decent. He's interested enough in the acts, without doing a lot of big shtick, he's got a solid sense of talent and he's got mostly valid opinions. As judges go, this show could do a lot worse.
Little kids will get their dreams shattered
I love that on this show they don't necessarily put all the little kids through to the next round, if they don't merit it... like some shows. Sharon has a nice way of telling them that they just aren't ready for this, and I'm kind of grateful that I don't have to suffer through a host of screechy pre-teen Justin Bieber/Taylor Swift wannabes for too long.
Playing air guitar is actually a thing
I always was under the assumption that playing air guitar (or drums) was something that drunk guys did at parties or dads did in cars... and yet, three sober guys took their clearly well-practiced skills on stage and wowed the crowd and got a free trip to Vegas... where they can drink.
That Nick Cannon will do anything. Anything.
Stand on the stomach of a freaky gymnast girl? Sure. Be lifted into the air by a strong man? Check. Be the guinea pig for a knife throwing act? Yup. Act like an idiot impersonating all of the acts from the sidelines? Absolutely. He's pretty much game for anything that will get him five minutes more of screen time an episode. Somehow, I find that charming. See what this show has done to me?
There are blind, flaming baton-twirlers in this world
Last year this show introduced me to the infamous Busty Heart, a woman who could crush beer cans with her breasts. Yes, really. This year, the big revelation came from Miss Donna. She's a blind, baton twirler, who likes to spin flaming knives around. See, don't you feel better just knowing this exists? This show, it's like a cultural tour of America.
I will never get magic
There are tricks that seem impressive -- at least the judging panel seems to be wowed by them -- but mostly I'm just like, I know it is a trick, there must be a reason this person is in a box and getting run through with a sword. If I were there I guess I could be caught up in it, but instead I end up being underwhelmed. I'm like Ned on Pushing Daisies. I blame it on the magician that tried to pour milk on my head when I was a kid. Scarred for life.
I should pay attention to those people on the subway cars
Instead of putting on my iPod and ignoring the singers who wander through trying to raise some cash like I normally do, because I'm a heartless person, I should actually give them a listen. Apparently that sort of thing is how Alice Tan Ripley (aka Gabourey Sidibe's mom) has been working for a number of years, and she's got a knockout voice. I was all ready to call the judges on just putting her through because she was an Oscar nominee's mother, but she's got some chops.
Science can be fun
These sort of genius nerds (aka Arc Attack) took a Tesla coil and made an impressive light display. It was like fireworks on stage. It was indeed the coolest thing I've seen on the show this season (blacklight dancers are not all that new, I just saw a kids show off-Broadway that did that). And, more importantly, I'd watch an entire Vegas act with them, which is sort of the point of this show.
If you don't make it on Idol or America's Best Dance Crew, there's always this show
It is a bit of a pet peeve of mine to see singers or dancers from other reality shows come on this show and then to have the judges fawn all over them. I can't fault the acts, they just want to be famous, but it's like Piers, Howie and Sharon live in their own little pop culture bubble where they aren't aware of other things.
There is an amazing amount of people out there who will do gross things to their bodies
It isn't just the Jackass guys who are willing to mutilate their genitals for their 15 minutes of fame, there are plenty of people. Men who want to put things up their nose, drill swallowers and guys who like to juggle all sorts of potentially deadly things. For fun. Their moms must be so proud.
The judges are all saps
They tear up more than Adam Shankman on So You Think You Got Dance. Give someone a sob story and they are all over it. Take an epileptic kid and give him a kite and some sad music and they are just a mess. Give a shaky young girl who had a rough childhood and ran away from home a guitar and a Sarah McLachlan song and they are convinced to send her through to Vegas to help her achieve her dreams.
What have you learned from this show... if it is to stay away from watching it you are a better person than I am. Leave your thoughts below.
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