BY ERIN “SNICKERS” WOLF www.NERDSBURGH.com
After so many weeks of traveling around the country, appearing on talk shows and chatting up his latest gig on NBC’s popular summer talent show, Howard Stern finally made his two day debut this week as the newest judge on America’s Got Talent. And I have to say, after all the dizzying hype building up to the May 14th premiere, I wasn’t disappointed.
“I love adulation. I sit in my room waiting for the crowd. A lonely man, until he’s with his public” said Howard Stern, just before he was about to enter one of many theatres where he greeted hundreds of cheering fans personally in AGT’s signature judge’s arrival run. Notorious for their “germ-phobia,” Howard Stern and Howie Mandel have trained audiences across the country to fist bump them in lieu of gratuitous touching. For the most part fans obliged, except for in the presence of Sharon Osbourne, whom with the inviting combination of fiery red hair, a warm smile and exuberant charisma adoring fans find it almost impossible to ignore a quick embrace.
The premiere included two audition episodes, which were *gasp* two hours long each. However, the editing and overlapping of top 40 music playing throughout the show made the time go a bit quicker. My biggest disapproval of AGT thus far is the producer’s ambitious decision to try and squeeze in a lot of acts in a very short period of time, as a result, most of the show felt more like a montage of a music video than a series of serious auditions.
As for Howard, Sharon and Howie, the energy and the compatibility amongst them is what primarily made the show enjoyable to watch, so far. Some of the most interesting highlights of the first two episodes were during the backstage footage shown between acts. In one, the judges get stuck briefly in a rickety elevator with Howie’s 80 year old mother. Once the doors opened, a shaken and nervous Howard Stern bolted past Howie’s mom George Castanza style away from the seemingly doomed elevator. Later, in candid moment from the limo on his way to a taping, Howard Stern admitted: “I’ve been in my hotel room since about five in the morning waiting to judge something.”
There is also a lot of film of the three judges walking down hallways and in and out of cars, in one of the more memorable exchanges, Howie mentions, “This is the biggest crowd we’ve had in the taping of the show” to which Sharon replies, referring to Howard, “Don’t tell him that, his head’s big enough already.”
We in the Stern Superfan chat room had many comments of our own to make about the various acts and seeing the King of all Media in a different medium:
Lj: “I’m waiting to see Howard jump on stage with someone”
Miss, after the four minute Spiderman preview: “These are SuperBowl type commercials”
SternSuperfan1, after Howard embraced a sweaty crooner: “Ralph get the purell”
Snickers: “By the time we saw Howard in NYC, I felt he was way more confident in his decision making”
Denise: “Say what you will about AGT, it can be SUCH a feel-good show when you see acts like this…”
Howard was engaging, honest, humorous and entirely self-deprecating, which he interestingly enough used as a tool to comfort the performers by way of taking some of the heat off the scared as hell acts onstage, especially when receiving criticism from the judges:
“I want to thank you because you remind me why I don’t like people”
“I started laughing part way through your act because I thought wow, I am the most popular judge. I thought you were painting me and I started laughing because I thought this guy really knows how to win me over! I really thought, wow, he was painting me. What an asshole.” (Laughs at himself)
“Do people think you’re weird? Me too, join the club.”
“To the little person in the front there, I love the way your buttocks looks in that outfit. It was perfect. If I was a serial killer, I would put one of those outfits on and just before I took my victim I would let them look at me like that.”
“Have I drained this show of so much budget, that we can’t get this guy a real pumpkin?”
Of course there were jokes about the size of his own penis and a lot of snarky remarks about looks and his horrible childhood, but mostly Howard was genuine and sweet:
“You guys have put in the time, you deserve a standing ovation. Good for you!”
“When a father and daughter like you come on, you move me. Every father out there is thinking wow I would like to have that relationship with my daughter.”
“As I said to you when we started this, I’m not an opera fan, I’m bored to tears by it, but I don’t know what happened. You converted me. Something’s going on here. The emotion in your voice, I felt every bit of it.”
But Howard was not without sound advice to contestants. After an impressionist/comedian performed in front of the judges, even though he put him through to Vegas, Stern offered some constructive criticism first:
“The hardest thing in the world is to come out in front of these animals, and they’re animals, trust me. And get them to quiet down for one lone voice… “
“Let me give you one note: I love edgy material, I love rebels. Let it really get angry, let it really rip. It wouldn’t be bad to have a couple of funnier, killer lines because you’ve got the impressions. That’s just my thought.”
Overall, I found the two-day premiere of America’s Got Talent, with the latest addition of judge Howard Stern, to be exciting, entertaining and captivating. It is my one criticism that the producers, in the future, should endeavor to narrow the focus of the audition episodes to feature only a few good and bad acts, instead of trying to shoe horn all of them into a flickering, fleeting montage. But, I will definitely keep watching, if only to catch a glimpse of Howard dancing onstage again.