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'America's Got Talent' recap: Back to the Big Apple [Video]

The “America’s Got Talent” auditions returned to New York on Tuesday night, reminding us again and again that the Big Apple contains a whole lot of big dreams, some of them delusional.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” judge Howie Mandel declared. “Somebody’s gonna make it today.”

But who knew that you could make it simply by bouncing up and down and exuding unbridled enthusiasm, boundless charm and a joy so pure it glints? Or by letting music rescue you from a broken home and a broken spirit? Or by getting up there and trying again to grab your chance for fame and riches, despite being unapologetically denied that chance not once but twice by mostly the same people you stand before tonight?

In New York, even the most far-fetched dreams sometimes come true. In America, anything is possible.

Though we saw talent on wheels (Smage Bros. Riding Show) and talent under a flaming pole (Shemika Charles) on Tuesday night’s show, what really stood out was not talent, or even out-and-out delusion, but rather optimism, resilience and persistence.

Then again, I guess “America’s Got Optimism, Resilience and Persistence” is maybe too long a name for a TV show.

Memorable acts:

Sam B: Good lord. How can you not love this big-bellied, curly-headed dancing machine? He’s like a giant dancing teddy bear. There should be Sam B dolls dancing in store windows (like those hula-ing Santas you see pop up at the holidays). Sharon Osbourne declared him “barking mad” but fantastic. Mandel predicted “Sam B” T-shirts. But the greatest tribute was from Piers Morgan, who smiled and laughed before calling Sam B “brilliantly terrible” and giving him a third yes to go through to Vegas. All together now, “Sam B! Sam B! Sam B! Sam B!”



Rachel Zamstein: Faux blond, but perhaps truly talented (it’s hard to tell for sure from an audition snippet), this young woman, who was a child of divorce, explains before taking the stage that music has essentially saved her life, pulling her out of a tailspin of drink and drugs and teenage depression. Morgan admired her “unusual look, unusual voice,” and concluded that he “quite liked that.” Mandel felt she “held back” and worried that the show and venue “overwhelmed” her. “Maybe the venue in Vegas will help out,” Zamstein said, showing a surprising bit of sass. Osbourne admired her “uniqueness” and “quirkiness,” paused dramatically, then sent her through. Jumping, fist pumping, a dream is launched.



Leonid the Magnificent: Twice-denied the “America’s Got Talent” prize, in seasons one and two (though it looks like Morgan and Osbourne might have actually put him through to Vegas on that second try), the force of unnatural confidence called Leonid the Magnificent returned, repurposed as a fun-to-watch quick-change artist. Morgan would have sent him packing a third time, but Osbourne and Mandel waved him through. And really, why not?



Let their success serve as a beacon of hope for singing doctors Rak and Tak or body-revealing oldsters like Ed Cole and Sandy the Naked Cowgirl. Never give up your dreams, guys. (But maybe spare us from watching you pursue them again.)

What did you think of Tuesday night’s “America’s Got Talent”? And was I the only one seriously creeped out by three-faced Narcissister? Let me know.

-- Amy Reiter

 
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