It's Day 2 of Vegas bootcamp for the 100+ hopefuls on 'America's Got Talent.' Yesterday's round of auditions was, for the most part, disappointing and the judges were simply brutal. Howard Stern actually said he was embarrassed at having advanced some of the acts to Las Vegas. Yikes.
As explained last night, the contestants were broken up into groups upon arriving in Vegas: the judges' favorites, the standbys and those automatically moving on to the next round in New York. Yesterday, some of the favorites performed and that continues tonight. If the favorites don't fill all 45 vacant slots by the end of the night, the standbys will get to perform for them tomorrow.
The magic category kicks off tonight's show. Mindreader Eric Dittelman (hehe.. ... Dittelman ...) is first to take the stage. I can see why he's a favorite. He really impressed me during his first audition and I'm usually a skeptic about his craft. Tonight, he makes Sharon Osbourne write the name of her first crush on a piece of paper. Then he takes Sharon's hand and tries to guess letters in the name. He correctly guesses two, then writes out the entire name: Robin.
When he does, Sharon jumps out of her seat and says, "How did you did that?"
When Dittle leaves Sharon looks terrified; she reveals she completely made up the name Robin up. Cue the creepy music and scared looks from Howie and Howard.
Two underwhelming magic acts later, Baltimore's own escape artist Spencer Horseman, of Illusions in Federal Hill, prepares for his performance. And boy is there a lot of preparation. A transparent cube is filled with water, we see some chains and some producers looking worried; we're even introduced to a medic who will be standing by.
"If I make it out alive, it's a successful performance for me," Spencer says.
When Spencer goes onstage, he climbs into the tiny, water-filled cube. An assistant blindfolds him and secures him with chains. Nick Cannon explains in a eerily hushed voice that Spencer only has a minute and 20 seconds to unlock the several locks keeping him imprisoned in the cube.
He seems to be doing well, but then -- oh, God! His key drops! By some miracle, Spencer uses a thin white strap to undo the last lock and escapes within a minute and 20 seconds.
Howard says Spencer's performance is what he loves about being a judge and that he nailed it.
Singing duos are up next. Eric & Olivia, a guitarist and singer, perform, but most of their time on the show is taken up by Howard convincing them they should hook up. They do really well; Howard thinks they could headline their own show.
Maurice and Shanice Hayes, the street singers who stole our hearts in the season premiere, are next. They sound great, but Maurice slips up; he either forgot the lyrics at the end of line or choked up due to nerves.
"If [Shanice] had her own television show, she'd bring out her dad for one song," says Howard.
Next up are Jorge and Alexa Narvaez, another adorable father-daughter duo and YouTube sensations. They're cute as always, but I don't see them advancing further into the competition. The judges all agree the performance was sweet, but that it sounded like a dress rehearsal.
The comedians category is next. First up is Jacob Williams, real estate nerd from Tampa. He's good. But that's it. A line of just okay comedians proceeds, and then it's Tom Cotter's turn. The New Yorker is the clear winner of this category.
"[My ex-girlfriend] said I was always invading her privacy," he says in his act. "She didn't actually say it, but she writes it in her diary all the time.
Impressionist Frank Roche is last. Howard didn't like the impressions when he auditioned, so Frank decides not to do any tonight. But then Howard says he wants to see impressions. This totally throws Frank off, so when he begins his written material, he totally screws up. He takes a long pause after his first joke fails, then begins again -- with the same joke.
"Much like the owl, my liver is spotted and endangered," was the punchline of his joke. After it fails again, Frank seems to lose his voice.
"Frank, you really blundered here," says Howard. "You do impressions and then you changed everything. You came out here and you got lost in your act ... that is suicide."
Frank is sent home immediately, which scares all of the other contestants because technically, no one is supposed to be sent home until the end of the night.
Kids make up the next category to face the judges. There are some super adorable shots of the little ones doing their homework together. Isaac Brown, the adorable 6-year-old singer/dancer from St. Louis, and Sebastien, the 10-year-old mariachi singer, seems to have become bros.
When Sebastien and his band perform, Isaac is backstage watching and saying that he doesn't want Sebastien to be sent home. Aww! I don't think Isaac has anything to worry about though because the Sebastien is awesome. Sharon even calls him "magic."
Then it's Isaac's turn. I have high hopes for him, but he's just okay. At one point, he holds the mic too far away from his face so we can't really hear him.
The Untouchables dance group is next. The judges don't say much after their performance, but I can tell they're impressed. Amazing Elizabeth, 6-year-old aerial silk gymnast, is impressive, but the judges don't show much of a reaction to her.
14-year-old pianist and singer Edon is just plain talented; he makes me actually like Usher's "Without You." Sharon even says he reminds her of a young Billy Joel. I was thinking more of Chris Martin from Coldplay, but Billy Joel works, too.
Male singers are next. There are some really good acts here, including Tim Hockenberry and Tim Poe, the stuttering Army guy who we recently discovered lied about his length of service. This is by far the best category tonight; Howard says he and the other judges have a tough decision to make.
This doesn't exactly make me proud to be a girl. Last night, all of the female singers except Nikki Jensen did so badly, the judges actually got angry.
Now, all of the judges' favorites have performed and it's time for Howie, Howard and Sharon to make some decisions.
"I would be happy if we didn't put through any female singers," says Sharon while they're evaluating that category.
After another minute of quick shots and more arguing, it's time reveal their choices.
Jorge and Alexandra are first up. They don't make it to the live shows in New York. I hate myself for predicting this one because the look on Alexandra's face breaks my heart.
Then things really start to get moving. In quick succession, all comedians but Tom Cotter and Jacob Williams are sent home, and in the kids category, young Isaac and the Amazing Elizabeth go home while Sebastien, the Untouchables and Edon move on to New York.
As expected, Nikki Jensen from Australia is only female singer to go through. In the dance category, All That Cloggers and 787 crew from Puerto Rico make it to New York.
Male singers Ulysses, Jake Rogers and Tim Hockenberry advance to New York, along with duos Eric & Olivia and Maurice & Shanice Hayes.
Spencer Horseman and Eric Dittelman, the mindreader, go onstage together and there's a moment of suspense where I think they may not make it. But it's just Howard playing tricks on us; they both make it New York!
In the novelty category, All Beef Patty, sand painter Joe Castillo and Aurora Light Painters advance. All Wheel Sports, American BMX Stunt Team and Ben Blaque the archer from the danger category all make it New York. Surprisingly, Horse, "king of the nut shots," is sent home.
In another shocking move on the judges' parts, not one contestant from the classical category advances. This includes Andrew DeLeon, goth opera singer who was a huge hit when he auditioned in Austin.
"This was our hardest decision," Howie says. "We wanted it to work. It didn't work."
Tomorrow, the standbys get to perform for the remaining spots. Only a few spots are left, so I'm just going to prepare myself now for 15 minutes worth of B-rolls of crying dancers.