"America’s Got Talent" is in New York for a second night. Howard Stern brought his parents along. They look like a sweet old couple, but according to Howard, they’ve been complaining about waiting in the auditorium for the past two hours.
First to audition is a singer/dancer named Ronald Charles. I can already tell his act isn’t going to be pretty; his turquoise leggings and weird haircut are dead giveaway. I’m right. He’s so awful, Howard gets his dad (who is conveniently equipped with a microphone) to tell Ronald how bad he is.
Papa Stern tells Ronald to rethink his occupation and to stop being a moron. Ouch. He definitely raised Howard.
John Pizzi, a comedian ventriloquist, is next. Instead of a puppet, he uses images of the ‘America’s Got Talent’ judges via an iPad and a monitor.
At one point, “puppet” Howard Stern says he can’t get his mind off “the sexual tension between me and Howie... Hey, Howie, deal or no deal?”
The act is mildly funny to me, but the judges and audiences really seem to like it. Howard calls John a true original and manages to slip in his first egocentric line of the night: “If I’ve made a career on my own, it was from being an original.”
John Pizzi is the first act of the night to make it to the next round in Las Vegas.
Donovan and Rebecca, a married pair of “acro-balancers,” are next. I’m a little off-put by their futuristic outfits. They’re wearing white full-body leotards, only Rebecca’s has an oval cut out of the front to show off her abs.
Their act is pretty amazing. They manage to lift and balance on one another in the weirdest ways. At one point, Rebecca is somehow sitting on the back of Donovan’s neck while he’s standing up.
“I can’t say a ‘yes’ big enough to you,” says Howard. The “acro-balancers” easily move on to the next stage.
A dancer named Stepz is up next. My jaw drops during his act. He does some moves and contorts himself in ways I’ve never seen before, and it’s so weird, it’s amazing.
Howard isn’t impressed though. “I do not think this is the type of act people will pay for,” he says.
“Unlike Howard, I think a lot of moves you did were unique,” says Howie. “I love it.”
Sharon is on Howard’s side and doesn’t think Stepz’s act will fill arenas. Then it’s time for the judges to vote. Howie says “yes,” and Howard says “no.” It’s all up to Sharon.
“I hate turning away people who have talent,” she begins.
Oh no. About 30 seconds of dramatic music and intense shots of Sharon’s and Stepz’s facial expressions go by. I’m actually getting nervous.
“But I’m sorry,” says Sharon. “You’re going to have to go to Vegas.”
What a relief! I’m both happy for Stepz and upset that I fell for the producers’ attempt to build suspense.
The last act is a dance group called the Savage Men. The four men are completely ripped. When they start their act, I think it’s clear they’re better classified as strippers. Being on national television, they can only strip down to their underwear. Most of the audience boos them seconds into their act, but some of the ladies seem to enjoy it.
“I always think that women don’t like a physique like yours,” says Howard when the Savage Men finish dancing. “They like what I have.”
The Men challenge Howard to come onstage — and he does! Howard takes off the leather jacket he seems to wear every show and we see how truly pale he is. He starts to dance and we also see what an awkward dancer he is. He’s Howard Stern, though, so naturally everyone loves it.
Howard has so much fun dancing with the Savage Men, he actually gives them a “yes.” Howie and Sharon stay practical and say “no.”
More people moving on the Vegas: an all-girl dance troupe; an all-girl rock band; a stand-up comic named Tom Cotter; a cross-dressing singer called All Beef Patty to whom Howard actually says, “You can be a star.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times