It’s hard to believe that in six years, “America’s Got Talent” never gave San Francisco a whirl while searching for talent, but the seventh season was the charm for the avant-garde American home, and for the most part, the wait was very worthwhile. New judge Howard Stern held fond memories of the streetcar city, and the feelings were mutual. It was slow-going out of the gate, but some of the most sincere moments on the AGT stage were just waiting to rise in San Francisco.
David Garibaldi and the CMYKs, short for the spectrum colors, left a little color on everything near the stage other than host Nick Cannon hip-hopping as they created a canvas of Beethoven, that Howard Stern thought was him until the end, but they still won his vote as “real talent,” along with the standing ovation from Sharon Osbourne and a big “Wow!” from Howie Mandel and the energetic auditorium. Mr. Special showed he really needed special help, as all he offered was a horn and a worn affirmation message while attempting a tricycle ride with his 200+ pound frame. He had an uncanny knack for the maximum camera exposure, too. A series a further disappointments dragged, including an act resembling Devo for pyromaniacs, the Blues Wizards unwelcome chords, and a team of gold latex-laden bodies who dropped with the first X buzzed, but at least garnered memorable words from Stern, referring to a serial killer, that only he could get away with that as a compliment. Kim McAfee came ready to inspire her idol, Howard, but her operatic rap was so hard to handle even Sharon Osbourne raced for her buzzer before words, soon followed by her partners on the panel, and even Nick Cannon’s high-enthusiasm as her scratcher couldn’t scratch up a plus vote. Sharon loves a handsome young man, though, especially if he can stand on rolling cans, and Cristin Sandu took his time climbing to the top, but he got there, promising more as he won passage to Vegas on merits of captivating momentum over his cuteness.
As promise of worthy talent waned, Howie Mandel playfully reminded his namesake on the panel that he had 15 million ways to find his motivation in judging, and the words must’ve worked, because the man who skips through dance acts decided to give the Lisa Clark Dancers credit for their quirky moves to the classics, along with Sharon. Jerrod and Roger combined magic and music in a unique way to please the panel, and Micah Gregorio is a soaring young singer we’ll see much more of in the weeks to come. Mike Price had to re-do a dazzling trick of juggling by chin, nose, forehead, and foot for distracted Sharon and Howard, but they liked what they saw, and he’s onward bound. Dave Burley brought one of the most original concepts ever with his “Dancing with the Stars” set-up, with dead-on impressions of Nicolas Cage, Charlie Sheen, Owen Wilson, Gary Busey, and other counterculture contenders, with shining originality. Howard Stern urged him to go more edgy, but Mandel and Osbourne instructed to stay the course. Stern is still learning to play nice in prime time.
Luiz Menghin has loved opera for almost all of his 54 years, instilled by the father who hope that opera records played on a barely playing turntable would give his son pause to dream. Menghin moved from Brazil to become a nurse at an assisted-living facility, singing only for his residents an hour each day after lunch, self-effacing in describing how his songs “helped with their bowel movements.” It was those very patients who pushed their caretaker to give America the chance to hear him sing, and his family saved for six months to make the trip from Utah. Menghin’s moving notes through his aria certainly hit to the core on the stage in San Francisco, but it was the heart that they moved, bringing many eyes to tears. Howard Stern became an Opera fan in the moment, and the pure tenor proved that a father’s dream can be fulfilled, even after his passing. Moments like Menghin’s make for more than great television—they move hearts and lives to actions. Some fathers got phone calls because sons saw Luiz Menghin’s moment on “America’s Got Talent.”
80 isn’t too old to dream, either, and Granny G. got her moment to give family values advice in rap to baby daddies, and she’ll be around, donning a bedazzled walker, per Sharon’s advice. She was a bright spot, followed by a string of dismal displays, until a janitor with a broom played it like a pan flute, pleasing the panel. Tim Hockenberry had few words after his “You Are So Beautiful” performance, fusing the best of Ray Charles and Joe Cocker in his singular vocals. He won Stern’s praise as “a breath of fresh air” along with similar props from the panel, as he fulfilled his own promise to live his dream at near 50 after conquering addiction. Strong acts proceeded, such as dancers, Funk Beyond Control, who threw in some “Bobby’s World” love beyond their big stepping, the Emily Ann Band, doing a bluegrass turn on Britney Spears, a young stand up with some prickly punch lines, and some acrobatic dancing lions.
Alonzo Jones, also known as “Turf,” touched every heart in the rowdy house after twisting his body beyond conception, making moves never seen in any dance show. His tears spoke his words of persistence through hardship and homelessness beyond all verbiage, as he closed with “You can do it.” Sharon Osbourne said his dues had been paid, and now it was his moment to take a stage; Howard Stern claimed he was “one to win it,” touched by his heart, but it was Howie Mandel who gave Turf his time to soak it all in, saying this was “magic” and that this young struggling artist was a star whose life had just changed forever, closing in a movable feast of emotion.