St. Louis showed its spirit Tuesday night as "America's Got Talent" took in all the talent under the Arch. Apparently the judges liked so much of what marched across the stage in the Gateway to the West (Howard Stern posited that they'd scrubbed the whole city clean of talent, leaving none behind), only a fraction of it could be shown in an hour.
So we were treated to a bevy of people celebrating the fact that they'd snagged a ticket to Las Vegas without seeing more than a second or two of the performances that earned them that privilege. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of a hip-hop violinist that Stern said was the best fiddler he'd ever heard. Then again, a few seconds was quite enough of, just for example, a group of curly-wig-wearing, Irish-step-dancing kids, the youngest member of which capped off the performance with what Howie Mandel noted was an Angelina Jolie leg move.
Not all the acts were waved through to the Vegas round, of course, though some were offered consolation prizes that seemed to please them nearly as much. A pint-size Ozzy Osbourne impersonator earned a hug from Ozzy's wife, "AGT" judge Sharon Osbourne. "I would die," he said, when offered the opportunity to clinch his hero's spouse.
A guy named Ron Christopher Porter Jr., whose dream is to do movie trailer voice-overs ("I don't see where this would be an act … I don't think you can go onstage with this," Stern wisely intoned) was invited to "hang out" with "AGT" host Nick Cannon. "Really? Oh my god!" Porter said, jumping up and down as if he'd just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Porter was further rewarded with more stage time and a ride in Cannon's limo.
There were other seriously buzzer-worthy acts: a female drummer who'd lost her band, a woman who crushes soda cans with her bare hands ("This chick almost hit me in the face with her cans," quipped Mandel), a guy in a chicken costume, some dude with a lasso and a small plastic bull.
But the ones worth all the judges' fuss? They were …
Isaac Ryan Brown: A beyond-cute 6-year-old boy with personality to burn who sang the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and had what the judges rightly noted was serious "star quality." "As long as it's coming from your heart, that's the only thing that really matters," Brown said of performing, prompting universal "awwws."
Spencer Horsman: The self-dubbed "world's youngest escape artist" (Stern observed that he looked 14, though he's actually 26) managed to wriggle free of a straitjacket while hanging upside down just before a flaming rope keeping a jagged trap from clapping shut on him burned through, spelling his doom. It was dramatic, and he had a sweet onstage demeanor. As long as he's got some good follow-up stunts, this young Houdini could stick around a while.
The Cut Throat Freakshow: This act included a woman named "Candy Pants" who walked and did a handstand on crushed glass, a guy who picked up a chair with his eyelids and a sword swallower – and that's pretty much all the details I could make out through my fingers.
What did you think of the acts that auditioned in St. Louis?
— Amy Reiter