David "The Bullet" Smith at the "America's Got Talent"… (Virginia Sherwood / NBC )
"America's Got Talent" rode into Austin, Texas -- on a steer, in Howie Mandel's case -- for what it promised would be "the most dangerous auditions of all time."
One assumes the producers were referring to "human cannonball" David Smith Jr., whose act they have been teasing in the show's intro montage all season. Smith, a family man who works with his wife, said he was shot out of a cannon for the first time at age 19, filling in for his dad following an injury.
"The impact coming out of that cannon is tremendous," Smith said on the show, adding that he's broken his leg and "lots of fingers" earning a living in his chosen field.
To see Smith's act, the episode's capper, the judges had to exit the theater. "As much as I don't want to go outside, I will go outside for you because I want to see you fly through the air," Howard Stern said.
Despite all the promise of danger and those teasers showing Nick Cannon appearing to react to a terrible accident (spoiler alert) all went as planned and Smith emerged unscathed. What would Smith do for a follow-up? The dazzled judges didn't seem to care, rewarding Smith with lots of praise and a trip to Vegas.
The producers "most dangerous" promise may also have included the acrobatic duo the Bandbaz Brothers, actually a nephew/uncle act in which the nephew balanced upside-down atop his uncle's head.
"He's my hero. I trust him with my life," the nephew said before taking the stage and showing us he meant it.
At one possibly perilous moment, the uncle, who had come out of retirement for the occasion, seemed unable to support his nephew's weight and began to shake. That thrilled the judges. "I honestly thought he was gonna break his neck," Sharon Osbourne said afterward.
Other acts tackled dangers of a more personal variety. Tim Poe, a war veteran who'd suffered brain damage in Afghanistan, spoke with a heavy stutter -- except when he sang.
And Lulu, a larger-than-average pole dancer, was looking to reclaim her dreams in what may or may not have been a tongue-in-cheek act. She was eventually joined by Cannon, whose duct-tape bikini top and climbing skills (it must be said) put Lulu's outfit and act to shame.
And then, of course there were the adorable kids -- Sebastian "El Charro" de la Cruz, 10, whose mariachi act prompted Mandel to call him a "little, male Mexican Jackie Evancho," and singing, piano-playing, yarmulke-wearing cutie Edon Pinchot -- not to mention the talented Ganbaatar Contortion Sisters and beret-wearing performance artist Joe Castillo, who told a patriotic story by painting with sand and shadows and projecting the images for all to see.
In other words, the talent was, yes, a little bigger in Texas.
What did you think of the acts in Monday night's show?
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