The second night of “America’s Got Talent” in San Francisco saw the conversion of Howard Stern and proved that someone truly can turn his shoulder inside out.
A street performer who was homeless for two years before earning enough money to get his own apartment, Alonzo Jones, aka “Turf,” had both judges and audience alike with their mouths agape as he danced, then repeatedly turned his shoulder inside out to contort his body into unimaginable positions. If you’ve never seen someone pop his shoulder forward, tune into future episodes of “AGT” as Turf goes to Vegas for the finals.
Stern, who has added a much-needed comic element to the show, did not convert from shock jock to Sunday school teacher during Tuesday night’s edition, but did transform from someone “bored to tears” by opera to an enthusiastic, if temporary, fan. This semi-miraculous metamorphosis was due to the power of Luiz Meneghin, a native Brazilian who sings to hospital patients as part of his duties as a nurse in Utah.
As Meneghin’s voice captivated and silenced the raucous crowd in the huge arena, Stern almost could not believe his own ears when he joined Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne to vote Meneghin through to the finals in Las Vegas. The cameras captured several audience members weeping at the power and beauty of Meneghin’s voice, and then flashed to Meneghin’s wife and daughter similarly moved. Papa joined the cry-fest when he learned of his ticket to Las Vegas.
Another stunner was the 80-year-old rapper known as Granny G. A retired real estate broker who has obviously had a lot on her mind in her golden years, Granny G. began her rap with a warning to “all the horny boys out there.” She proceeded to give a choppy rap that earned the judges’ love simply because it was coming out of a grandmother’s mouth while she leaned on her walker. The rap’s message wasn’t too bad—urging young men to think about the possibility of fatherhood before they have sex—and the delivery was truly memorable, earning Granny G a pass to Sin City, an irony not lost on new judge Howard Stern, who called her a “million-to-one shot.” Granny G promised another rap at a future date aimed at young woman, predicting “It’s gonna be so hot!” Time will tell.
Another hit was comedian/impressionist Dave Burleigh, who modestly claimed that he had “a million” impressions, but “only three of them are good.” He then proceeded to rip off more than a half dozen impressions that were spot on, including one that sounded so much like Owen Wilson you thought he might have been doing a voice-over backstage.
Of course, shows like “AGT” are memorable as much for their misses as much as their hits. Notable busts included Kotton Kandy, a middle-aged, overweight dancer dressed in drag who looked like a large portion of chocolate pudding shaking in a hot pink container. The judges, unsurprisingly, suddenly lost their appetite once he was done.
Another loser, in name and reality, was the self-proclaimed Mr. Special, a 57-year-old man who urged everyone to not “be afraid of who you are” and then proceeded to make all of the judges very afraid of who he was as he teetered on a miniature bicycle, played a toy bugle and failed to dazzle in his homemade chicken outfit. Only in California!
Another gamble in this season of the show is on Howard Stern. Betting lines offering viewers a chance to bet on what they are expecting from the shock job on AGT reflect that the public does see Stern as a controversial figure who might not be able to pull of a family friendly persona and transform enough to keep it clean. Time will tell. Watch the Vegas odds on America’s Got Talent evolve during the season as Stern tries to rise to the occasion.