After eight seasons, it’s no longer a question whether America’s Got Talent. (American Idol, and The Voice, and The X-Factor also kind of answered that already.) But what makes NBC’s summer staple so special is that singing’s only one among many talents that can be displayed. Though host Nick Cannon arguably gave the night’s best performance by pretending to be a contestant named Larry the Mime who went off on the judges and audience (“Boo yourself!”), there were many great acts actually eligible for the million dollar prize. And sure, a few of them were singers — but you can find people just like them on any other reality competition. Here are 5 of the best premiere auditions from acts that didn’t just hit the right notes:
Adrian Romoff: Even though the 9-year-old is on track to enter college in about two years, being smart is not his talent. Instead, the pint size Einstein wowed the judges with his rocking piano skills — and I do mean rocking. At first, I thought an adorable little kid would play something classical and impressive. And sure, Adrian could do that — but clearly, this kid just wants to have some fun. After carefully removing his glasses, Adrian went head banging crazy on his keyboard. Though Howard was “utterly and thoroughly confused” by his first performance, the other judges were convinced — and Howard was easily won over after Adrian did end up playing a brief, more classical piece. According to Howie, this kid is America’s answer to Harry Potter. Well, you can’t argue that being a boy wizard means being pretty talented.
Dan Naturman: If your personal hygiene isn’t good as a kid, what else do you do but become a comedian? That seems to be how Dan Naturman got into his profession — though comedy’s always a risk on AGT, as shown by a brief montage of other failed joke-tellers. Naturman, the love child of Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Lovitz (according to Howie, anyway), seemed very nervous at the beginning of his audition. But he quickly won the audience over with his jokes about marriage and internet dating. I think I’ll use his tip the next time I’m on my OkCupid account and ask for people to send me a picture with them next to today’s paper (or at least an iPhone 4). Howard called the audition a home run and welcomed the quirky comedian into the competition.
Rockardy: By the looks of Rockardy and his quiet assistant Carlos, you may not know what the Cuban native’s talent is. His black tights and silk white shirt are pretty common in the AGT audition holding room, after all. But Rockardy is exactly what this show is about: Where else can a 49-year-old hand balancer get a moment on national TV? Thanks to an audition that literally took things to a new level, he’ll get a lot more chances now. Rockardy held his balance for the entirety of the performance, adding different levels and getting higher as Carlos stood to the side, throwing over arm stands. Rockardy got so high, he reach past the judges’ names and Xs high above the stage. He also almost fell once, giving the act a dangerous flair. And SURPRISE! Carlos is his son! Wow, someone should make a movie about that kid — if Howard doesn’t get to it first.
Mike Greenstein: Mike from Queens, 93, brought his lady friend Lois as well as his brother and his brother’s wife to the audition. Before he hit the stage, Mike said, “If I fail, it will be the first time.” What could he possibly have up his sleeve?! After much buildup, it was finally revealed that Mike’s talent was pulling vehicles with his teeth. It’s not just a hobby — it was a family business that had Mike performing all over the country during World War II. Of course, a stunt like this required the judges to leave the theater and go outside, where a 3,500 pound car waited — containing Lois, Mike’s brother, and his sister-in-law. That’s right: Mike pulled a car with three adults inside across a finish line with his actual teeth. As someone with veneers, I feel a little ashamed. Mike told the judges that next time, he’d pull 20-30 people in an open back truck. Though Howard was still unsure how the talent would convert into splashier performances, the other judges were more than impressed, sending him through.
Dustin’s Dojo: By far the most controversial audition of the night would be Dustin and his friend/sidekick/catman Terry showing off their karate skills. To be completely honest, I thought the whole thing was a joke at first. But like Heidi, I wasn’t really sure if it was supposed to be a joke or not once the audition actually began. I guess throwing salt in someone’s face can be funny under certain circumstances, but I’m just not sure if this was one of them. However, the men on the panel seem to get the joke right away. Both Heidi and Mel gave the act an X, which resulted in a tie. Then, in a surprising move, Howard used his only hit on the golden buzzer to send the Dojo duo through. That’s right: He has one chance all season to really make someone’s dreams golden, and Howard chose this. Think he’ll live to regret it as the competition heats up?