AGT Fifth Judge: Auditions Get Weird — Recorder Beatbox, Cake Eating, Dough Juggling, What Is Happening?

Can you train a rabbit to do tricks? Can bears dance hip-hop? Can you check out your own a– on live television? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you might be watching “America’s Got Talent.”

With no more Golden Buzzers to hand out in this final round of “America’s Got Talent,” it felt like the show saved its weirdest acts for this final round.

We got some of our usual fare, with impressive singers, a stand-up comedian, a balancing act and even a guy who trained his rabbit to perform tricks, but … “we’ll get back to that.”

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The night stood out mostly for the strangeness of some of the acts, including a professional competitive eater, a pizza dough juggler, dancing bears and a guy who partnered himself in a dance routine that defies description.

Some of the night’s most memorable acts, though, included a bounce juggler — who really brought a whole new perspective to the talent — as well as two people who came out with instruments (a recorder and violin), only to bring them to life in wholly unexpected ways.

This is the last night of “AGT” before the Live Shows kick off in three weeks thanks to NBC’s Olympics coverage, so that’s how long we’ve got to wait until we find out which 36 acts were chosen by the judges to actually move forward.

It’s a format change we’ve got a lot of thoughts about — and they’re not necessarily great — but as the night’s great rabbit trainer said, “We’ll get back to that.”

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

And just for fun, I’m gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do and then we can track them throughout the season to see how they fare.

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Mary Bowers

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(competitive eater) Busting up from the middle of a 60-pound cake, this woman’s talent was to eat her way free. She’s ranked 47th in the world as a competitive eater,  but where does an act like this go? Eating other things? It was just too limited.

Results: N, N, N, ?

Bini the Bunny & Shai

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(animal trainer) Bini was going to blow us all away, but we’ll have to “get back to that.” Unfortunately, after a lot of hype and setup, it looked like Bini just wasn’t feeling the performance tonight. He just didn’t do much of anything, leaving poor Shai flustered and embarrassed. Shai promised he could paint, and he’d better deliver because this was a mess.

Results: Y, Y, Y, X

Jonas McEnfro

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(performance art) A combination of a very dated John McEnroe reference, a spinning hoop and hitting tennis balls (did he hit any?) and a goofy personality actually scored Jonas yeses from the panel. We’ve really no idea what this is, so maybe we’ll find out in the next round?

Results: (not shown, but yes)

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Erik & Shelly

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(dancers) It was okay swing dancing, but just okay. There was definite hard work and talent but when you have to stand out on a show like this, it needs to be more. We’re not even sure this would really stand out enough in a dance competition.

Results: ?, X, X, X

Science Wizard

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(scientist) It was kind of a goofy act with him blasting rings of smoke (with wind power) through a machine while Heidi and Sofia tried to stack plastic cups. It was silly, but he has that kind of fun science guy persona that’s made careers for a lot of people who cater this sort of thing toward entertainment.

Results: (not shown, but yes)

Charming Bears

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(dancers) We only got a few seconds of the actual dancing of these overstuffed teddy bears, but there was definitely some real skill behind those costumes. There is something endearing and cheeky about it — a playfulness as they were fully aware of their costumes — that makes it something you wouldn’t mind seeing where it can go.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

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Lewberger

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(comedian-singers) This established internet comedy trio had a cute idea with a song dedicated to Terry Crews, but other than a few moments of nice harmonies, the song wasn’t all that clever and Terry turned out to be the highlight of the act when he came out.

Results: (not shown, but probably yes)

Anna McNulty

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(contortionist) We only caught a few seconds of this adorable young girl and her twisting body. It’s clear she’s flexible, and she has a fun stage persona, but we don’t really have much to go on beyond that. Using her leg as the ticking hand of a clock was pretty clever, though, so we’ll be hopeful.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Mike Goodwin

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(comedian) Mike’s material was just okay, analyzing nursery rhymes through a modern-day filter. Honestly, we think it’s just that he spent a little too long rehashing the nursery rhymes. And framing it around homeschooling didn’t work, as there was no real comedic connection to the bit about his wife firing him from teaching their kids and the nursery rhyme stuff — or a very thin one. He has funny observations, but the set just wasn’t tight enough, leaving us to enjoy just a few moments sprinkled throughout rather than the full experience.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

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Zac Taylor

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(singer) There’s no denying that he has a nice voice, with perfect command of his delivery. We didn’t hear anything super exciting about this particular audition, but with a little more time (his audition was trimmed for air) to really connect to what he’s doing, it may leave a stronger impression.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Pasha & Aliona

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(performance art) What a goofy conceptual performance,with Pasha first pretending that his wife had missed her flight and so he would have to perform alone. He then made up the feet of both him and his wife in a wildly unique and funny and strange dance. It was compelling to watch in fascination, even as you knew how he was doing it, because there was still definitely some skill involved. Would a future round be more of this or something else? Either way, we’re intrigued.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Kid Jay

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(rapper) We probably got too much of his repeated chorus, as that didn’t really tell us as much about his artistry and songwriting as the actual verses would. Still, he has a very cool rhythm and flow with his delivery. We’d have liked a little more oomph in that delivery, though, to sell the conviction to us a little more in that chorus. We could hear nerves creeping a bit, but he gave us enough to want more.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

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Savannah

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(singer) She’s got a great look and a great sound. She absolutely sounded connected to the lyrics and message of Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” delivering it with just the right amount of passion. On top of that, without doing much physically, she still managed to have a compelling stage presence that drew you in. So why did we get so much Bini the Bunny, while Savannah’s audition got cut short?

Results: (not shown, but yes)

Anica

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(singer) Janis Joplin is not easy for anyone to sing, but Anica proved more than capable of it. It was a little too copycat to be sure she didn’t just master this one song, but there’s no denying she put enough of her own spin on it to make it not exactly like the recording. She’s got that same rasp and wail, bringing a lot of interesting energy to the piece. RIght now, we’re convinced she’d be great for a Janis tribute band, but as an artist in her own right, we haven’t seen enough. But we’d love to see what else she’s got in there.

Results: Y, Y, Y, X

Sergio Paolo

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(bounce juggler) It feels like we were just getting to the real potential of this bounce juggling when Sergio started ricocheting the balls underneath the platform. Visually, it’s very exciting as he’s working more than the traditional three balls at once. There was a nice escalation of complexity and he has a real showmanship about him as he’s performing. If he can keep raising the stakes on this act, we could get behind it going on and on.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

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Dylan Zangwill

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(singer) This 14 year old comes with an incredibly cool look even before he sits behind the piano. Then, all we could think was, who sits down like its nothing and decides to take on Freddie Mercury? Dylan does. And if his thousand-watt smile didn’t win you over already, his vocals surely would. He had no problems with such a complex vocal, and yet he didn’t sound copycat at all. He’s got a great raw talent in there and everything that will make him do very, very well on this show.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Pizza Man Nick Dieslin

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(pizza dough juggler) We’ll be honest, we thought this was going to be terrible because we didn’t know what it was going to be. We’ve seen impressive pizza dough spinners, but Nick took it into artistry. Not only did he have a great spin going, there were no holes in the dough, he was throwing it around like a juggler, rolling it across his back, under his legs. This was impressive in any medium, but fascinating with pizza dough. Plus, it would have probably made a great slice.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Dflex

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(contortionist) We’ve seen contortionists before, but Dflex definitely delivers as one of the most impressive. We also loved the playfulness of his routine, like when he twisted himself under his own rump and then seemed impressed with it, rubbing it seductively. There’s a charm to his performance that adds a whole new layer of entertainment. If he can keep mixing it up, he could really get the audience on his side.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

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Medhat Mamdouh

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(beatboxer-recorder player) Straight out of Egypt, we were actually already digging how he was able to create such an authentic Middle Eastern sound from the instrument that is the joke of all instruments in the Western world … and then he added beatboxing. It was such a perfect hybrid of the two sounds simultaneously, it was amazing to watch. We can only imagine the practice and skill it took to create this one song. It’s unique, incredible and the kind of magic that can only happen on these “Got Talent” shows.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Rialcris

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(hand balancers) This trio of brothers only performed two stunts, but they were both incredible feats of trust, strength and balance. Balancing two people high on your head on your brother’s shoe!?! That’s the kind of crazy that really stands out, and a testament to how very good they are at what they do.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

Gabriella Laberge

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(violinist-singer) Setting us up to believe she was just going to play violin, Gabriella did that very well, but was about to get a buzz because it’s just hard to be exciting on that (we know, it’s been done before), but then she started singing and her voice has this beautiful haunting ache to it, with a lilt and a break. It’s totally unique and absolutely beautiful, one of the most interesting and memorable voices of the season.

Results: Y, Y, Y, Y

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In 3 Weeks…

Thanks to the Olympics, “AGT” is going off the air for the next two weeks for NBC’s coverage, but it also appears as if the judges might have cut the usual “Judge Cuts” performance round in favor of an armchair cut to the Top 36.

If so, does that dilute the value of the yeses contestants get during the audition rounds, if the judges can turn around and simply change their collective vote to a no in the next round? And with more than 150 acts moving on, it’s a massive cut to only 36.

Did Olympics coverage force such a dramatic shift? Couldn’t we have come back with either truncated “Judge Cuts” or even a two-night-a-week broadcast for that round? Instead, it looks like we move right to the Live Rounds when the show returns.

It definitely makes that Golden Buzzer more valuable, if this is how things are going to be from here … but we’re not thrilled that “yes” doesn’t mean as much. That said, this is how “Britain’s Got Talent” does it, and it seems to work for them.

“America’s Got Talent” shifts to two nights a week after the Olympics, returning Tuesday, August 10 and Wednesday, August 11 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.


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