After weeks of open auditions around the country, judges Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel are in Las Vegas to narrow their current talent pool from over 100 to 48.
Right off the bat, the judges gather the contestants in the Palazzo Hotel lobby and announce they have already sorted them into groups: the judges' favorites, the standbys and those who are definitely advancing to the next round.
The judges' favorites will perform in Las Vegas for a chance to advance to the next stage. If these contestants do not fill all of the vacant spots, the standbys will get to perform.
Some contestants are not on any list. These acts will not perform in Las Vegas at all. They traveled here only to be sent home immediately. Sound harsh? That doesn't even begin to describe this episode.
The Bandbaz Brothers balancing act, singer Charlie See and girl band Ivy Rose make up the group not on any list. They're sent home.
Then it's time for pretty much the only good news this episode: The Olati Brothers dog show, the Human Canonball and musician William Close are automatically moving on to the live show. I'm ecstatic because William Close from episode one is one of my favorite contenders this season.
Now the judges' favorites, who are divided further into categories, will perform. First up is the danger category. Two bicycle stunt groups that the judges loved during the audition round, All Wheel Sports and American BMX Stunt Team, fail to impress tonight.
All Wheel Sports' act looks messy and gimmicky; in the midst of all the bicycle flips, there is a distracting group of female dancers on a platform. And someone on BMX Stunt Team falls while attempting a flip.
Also in this category is crossbowman Ben Blaque, who ups the ante by shooting blindfolded at a target above his assistant.
Female singers are next. Mary Joyner, daughter of Olympians Al and Flo Joyner, sadly doesn't do as well as she did in her first audition. She's flat on a high note and Sharon actually cringes.
"She blew it," Howard says when Mary leaves the stage. It's okay, Mary, we still love you.
Three more girls perform -- badly -- and Howard is getting so frustrated, he says he's embarrassed for having put them through to Vegas.
"I don't think they rehearsed," he says to Sharon and Howie.
Then deli shop assistant Luna walks onstage and she's so cute and charming, I think she might be the one to break the spell. No such luck.
Luna fumbles her lyrics, stops singing, apologizes and begins again -- wildly off key. Howard tells her she screwed up and the judges agree to send her home on the spot; she's the only contestant they've done that to.
Nikki Jensen from Australia is the last female singer to perform. She has a strangely beautiful voice and is the only one of this group to put a smile on the judges' faces.
The next category is dance groups. The judges seem disappointed in the first few acts, which includes an all-male clogging group and Loyalty Dance Team.
When 787 Crew from Puerto Rico performs, one dancer is hit mid-flip by another dancer attempting to flip over him, which actually makes me scream. Still, they are the only crew the judges seem to like.
The novelty category is next. The standout from this category is Horse, "the nut shot guy," and his nut-cracking friends. His friends seem to do everything from rolling a ball at his crotch to blowing fire at the his crotch.
By the time they’re done, Horse hardly looks like he's in pain and Howie says he thinks a guy like Horse could win the whole competition. Who would've thought a guy who just gets hit in the crotch could be the number one contender so far?
The last category of the night is classical singers, which includes Simply Sergio, Luiz Meneghin and Andrew DeLeon, the Criss Angel look-a-like who displayed the voice of an angel in the Austin auditions.
Things don't go well for this group either. Sergio is sick and has to hum for a portion of his song because his voice can’t reach the high notes. Luiz is flat. And because of his nerves, Andrew just stops singing after he belts a really high note.
And that wraps up the most tense, dour episode so far. With what we saw today, though, I'm starting to doubt whether the judges will be able to fill all 43 spots.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times