Tonight's episode, a two-hour slog through 12 YouTube acts, began with Nick Cannon apologizing for the show before it even got started.
He made sure to note that Season Five's YouTube shows yielded Jackie Evancho, who ended up being the runner-up that year.
The implicit message was, "Hey, these aren't just some bums from the Internet." Oh, but they are totally bums from the Internet. Let's meet them before the majority of them go away forever, tomorrow night:
Clint Carvalho & His Extreme Parrots: A schlubby guy who trained a cockatoo named Kitten to fly into the "AGT" studio from a building across the street. What seemed like a pretty whatever act -- a bird doing what birds do -- ends up being one of the only things of the night that works.
Reverse Order: Everything about these dinks just felt off. As Howie observed, they were "acting like a rock band" instead of just being one. They performed a cover of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," which is supposed to be clever, I guess? And though they're probably considered cuties in their hometown, they look weird -- like the Jonas Brothers, if their faces were melted a little bit.
Rudy Coby: A magician with a quirky, tedious magic act with some potential: He resurrects a clown puppet who turns out to be Coby who then decapitates Coby. Made me wonder how he did it, which is something. Inexplicably, Sharon said he looked like "a Nazi." Howie said "You came from YouTube," as if the website were some hellish pit that spawns amateurism and mediocrity.
7 in Unison: Seven young girls danced all jazzy-wazzy-like to Peggy Lee's "Fever," not always in unison. A totally whatever act that the judges seemed to lash out against way too harshly because it dawned on them that this night was going to be rough. Stern prefaced his comments by saying he didn't want to "pile on," and then told the teenaged girls that their "90 seconds felt like 90 minutes," which is pretty much the definition of piling on.
Drew Erwin: Dreamy 16 year-old guitarist who said his dad submitted his video to the show without him even knowing. It sounded like some suspicious sub-Bieber stuff. Stern picked up on the narrative being formed and launched a missive decrying the desire for instant fame. Erwin weakly but charmingly performed Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn," which means that this strange night included two young male musicians covering distinctly female songs. Interesting!
Melinda Hill: Disconcertingly nervous on-stage, Hill lobbed lazy jokes about Facebook and dating at the crowd. Her set was mercifully interrupted by a WBAL storm alert, which ate into almost 15 minutes of the show and deprived Baltimore viewers of the next two contestants. Fortunately, clips of Eric Buss and Romeo Dance Cheetah are available on the "AGT" website.
Eric Buss: Some unholy combination of Carrot Top and Victor Borge. Classical music plays and this schlockmeister shot those slinky-like snakes out in-synch with the sturm und drang of the music. Terrible.
Romeo Dance Cheetah: Hammy goon does air guitar to the Darkness' "I Believe In a Thing Called Love." Gave me the same feeling that Preakness mascot Kegasus gives me.
Sharon: "What is going on?"
Howard: "Whose idea was it to have a YouTube night?" Good question, Howard.
The Magic Of Puck: Shockingly regular magician who did the trick where a handkerchief mysteriously darts all around the stage; total cruise ship entertainment.
"Everyone has been a lot more disappointing," Howie said. Tonight, being pretty good is enough to be a highlight.
Bria Kelly: Breezy, teenaged country-rock performer covers Miranda Lambert's "Gunpower and Lead." Sharon says she's "very confident," and at first, it sounds like "very competent," which is also true. "I just don't want to get X-ed," Bria exclaims. Even the performers are aiming low.
Cast In Bronze: Dressed like someone at the "Eyes Wide Shut" orgy, Cast In Bronze plays some big stupid instrument called the carillon, which weighs two tons and features 35 bells and emits a sound that reminds Sharon of a "department store at Christmas." This act is weak, and the dude is trying so hard to sell his mysterioso shtick that he's incredibly unlikeable. The only contestant of the evening to get buzzed by all three judges.
Academy of Villains: This dance troupe could go viral with their performance of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," in which members move their gloved hands in unison forming a mouth singing the lyrics. It was like a big budget version of the Harvard baseball team's choreographed-in-a-van take on Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." Then the whole thing when hip-hop played and the group danced, with energy and preparedness, in "scary" Insane Clown Posse-like makeup. It was pretty awesome.
Tomorrow, these Internet goons are voted on, and then it's onto the wild card picks next week, and the show's competition actually gets back on track. Now, let us never speak of tonight's episode again.
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