Taking a page straight out of the Jury Duty spoof playbook, the opening act in tonight’s final “audition” episode of America’s Got Talent found the show’s four judges pretty much the only ones in the theater not in on the audition.
What started out seemingly as a solo piano player — and a pretty weak one, at that — singing a cringe-worthy version of ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” (get it?) slowly but steadily mushroomed into a flash mob-style army of nearly everyone in the house.
Howie Mandel was the first to squeeze in a rejection buzzer for the poor pianist, but before the other panelists could reach theirs, a voice could be heard from off-camera in the audience screaming, “Give him another chance!” And right on cue, several other people jumped out of their seats to belt out a Broadway musical-style defense of the off-key ivory tickler. “Give him another chance,” they sang. “Just because someone screws up once, doesn’t mean they’re a total freakin’ dunce.” Even an erstwhile cameraman was in on the bit.
Then it was time for the entire balcony to burst into song, being as it was packed to the rafters with a UCLA choir exalting from on high. And what flash mob would be complete without a uniformed marching band pouring into the house blaring brass instruments and rocking tall, fuzzy hats?
“Who else is in on this?” yelled a wide-eyed Terry Crews from the wings, as the bit, created by NYC-based outfit Improv Everywhere, ended in a fusillade of streamer confetti cannons, all to the delight of the dazzled audience.
The judges, however, didn’t share the crowd’s enthusiasm, with the notable exception of the often jaded and blasé Simon Cowell, who declared, “The whole point of this was to surprise us, and I actually was surprised. I loved the fact that it just got bigger and bigger and bigger. And I loved the song choice. So I actually really liked this audition.”
When it came time to vote, suddenly softie Cowell gave it a yes, Sofia Vergara gave it a firm no, followed by a lukewarm yes from Heidi Klum, who admitted she “liked the fart joke” (yes, there was even one of those).
So it all came down to humorless Howie who said, “This is more of a party gag. It’s great for a party, and I’ll hire you, but I don’t think it’s for this show. Like, what could you do next? You couldn’t surprise us.
“Well, I’m gonna surprise you,” he added with a mean-spirited grin. “I’m gonna say … no.”
And with that, all hope was lost. No more taking chances on this act.
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.