Take Two at 'America's Got Talent's' Tampa auditions. (Virginia Sherwood/NBC )
After a night off thanks to the Stanley Cup (congratulations, L.A.), "America's Got Talent" resumed its regular audition programming Tuesday night, returning to Tampa Bay for an hour of highs and lows including Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne impersonators, fake-worm-manipulating tabletop puppeteers, some guy who said he was an "expert at air sex" (cover the kiddies' eyes -- even Howard Stern found it "highly offensive") and a water-skiing squirrel named Twiggy some of us may recognize from YouTube. (The part of the show in which Twiggy peed all over Nick Cannon's sharp suit is in itself viral-video worthy, when you come down to it.)
We were also treated to a snippet of a magician named Taylor Reed, who made a motorcycle magically appear, which Sharon Osbourne said was "big" and "special"; a weird performance-art piece involving masks and stilts that Osbourne called "disturbing" and Stern labeled "hippy nonsense"; a guy who informed the judges "I tear paper," but then did it so uncompellingly Howie Mandel said afterward, "On paper, it probably seemed like a good idea"; a mess of mediocre (or worse) singers and dancers; and, it being Florida, a generous sprinkling of old people. "Don't break a hip," Cannon instructed a group of high-stepping seniors, prompting one member to report she was actually stepping out onstage with a brand new hip.
But, of course, there were some keepers, along with at least one act retained for novelty reasons alone, and by that I'm referring to a 4-foot-10-inch "70-year-old teenager" calling himself Big Barry who spoke-sang a song like William Shatner. At Mandel's insistence, Stern clambered onstage and then cuddled with Barry and offered him his leg to hold. Stern then returned the favor, voting to send the dapper, diminutive dude on to Vegas, despite his clear lack of talent. "It's no big deal. He's carry-on," Mandel assured Stern.
In addition to judge banter – which is warm and comfy among Osbourne, Mandel and Stern, who really seem to enjoy working together – highlights from the show included:
The Untouchables: This remarkable kid-dance act, overseen by the leader of last year's "America's Got Talent" top 10 dance group the Miami All-Stars (whose own son and daughter are in the troupe) is comprised of members ranging in age from 8 to 13. And these kids can dance – with almost eerie professionalism and maturity. (Maybe too much maturity for some tastes. "We're gonna be extra mucho caliente," one member promised, prompting the group to shimmy and shake their tassels.) Mandel said the kids' technical expertise and youth was "phenomenal." Stern called them "captivating," and warned, "Puberty is your enemy."
American BMX Stunt Team: This "bunch of regular guys" ages 20 to 44, united in their love for BMX, wowed the judges with their flips and turns and leaps. "That was a huge disappointment," quipped Stern, who'd said he'd been hoping for broken bones. "No one died." But then he added, "You guys are truly the best that I've seen."
The Scott Brothers: We saw all too little of these robotic dancers who call themselves "a popping, cartoon-style act," but what we saw was impressive. "These guys are dope," Cannon enthused from backstage, where he mimicked a few of their snappy moves.
Lindsey Norton: Mandel found this 16-year-old acrobatic dancer – a Tampa local -- Olympics-worthy, and all the judges found her "adorable." "I'm just so excited," she said, though it was unclear about precisely what. No matter. "You are everything that America should be about," Stern gushed. "You're someone who works hard. What you do is mesmerizing, inspirational and belongs on the stage. It's a yes from me."
Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew: Arrrtbreakingly, these guys – "the only rap group with buccaneer techniques" -- didn't make it through to Vegas. Stern called them "stupid," "moronic" and "pathetic." And even Mandel, who often tries to rescue quirky acts from having to walk the plank, gave them the ol' Captain Hook. But I liked their Yo-Ho call and response with the audience.