The battle of the brightest on “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” stars rages on.
Top acts from the international “Got Talent” franchise continue to throw down on NBC’s super-competition (Mondays, 8 EST/PST) with their sights set on the finals. Among the show’s judges – Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel – only Cowell had the ability to hit the Golden Buzzer Monday, securing an act’s place in the finals. (The second spot in the finals would be decided by a voting panel of “superfans,” while eight other hopefuls faced elimination once more.)
Here’s how the evening unfolded:
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Cowell surprises himself with his Golden Buzzer selection
Mike E. Winfield, a comic from Season 17 of “AGT,” returned to crack up the judges. He joked about his stepson, whom he refers to “stepman” due to their similar ages, staying out too late. “I drove around the corner to pick him up (from a party), I came home three hours later,” Winfield said. His wife said, “‘Michael, you been’ drinkin’?’ I’m like, ‘We got some of the same friends. Everybody was there. He’s still there. I’mma go get him again.”
“You are that ray of sunshine, and I love you,” Klum raved. “You are hilarious.”
Cowell predicted if Winfield had performed the evening’s routine previously, “it might’ve been a completely different story, because you’ve come back funnier, more confident. I can even see it in your eyes how much this means to you right now.”
“It means everything,” said Winfield. “This is what I’ve been wanting forever. I wanted ‘AGT.’ I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and you go unnoticed, then you finally get a platform. There’s no time to take off or put on brakes. I’m here to play.”
Cowell, noticing the audience’s adoration for the standup, gave him the Golden Buzzer. “You know what, Mike? I love, love, love people who compete,” Cowell said, “and I wasn’t expecting to do this, but I’m going to do it.”
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Saxophonist Avery Dixon hits all the right notes
Saxophonist Avery Dixon, a competitor on Season 17 of “AGT” who earned a Golden Buzzer from host Terry Crews back then, returned Monday.
The young musician, who picked up the saxophone after being bullied about his voice, said he was competing for his mom: “I’m here to get her that house and win it all.”
Dixon gave himself a fighting chance when he and his band performed a lively rendition of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” that brought a dancing Klum to her feet.
“That’s how you do it!” she said, smiling.
Mandel complimented Dixon’s evolution. “You stepped it up,” Mandel said. “You went from an amazing piece of talent to an amazing show. You are a show!”
Bir Khalsa is an act nearly unwatchable for Cowell
Bir Khalsa, a group that performs dangerous stunts that first appeared on Season 14, showed it was ready for “All-Stars” with a frightening act Cowell found difficult to watch.
For one bit, a blindfolded member of the four-person group took a sword and sliced coconuts resting on another member’s neck. “I can’t take it!” said an anxious Crews.
For another trick, the blindfolded member smashed coconuts and watermelon, outlining his collaborator’s body with a sledgehammer. “I can’t watch,” said Mandel with his hands nervously placed on his head.
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As the sledgehammer came closer to striking a watermelon by the group member’s head, Cowell covered his eyes. After a swing, Cowell, who’d turned away from the stage asked, “Is he alive?”
For the group’s final feat, the blindfolded man sliced an apple between the heads of two partners with a chainsaw.
“That is by far the craziest thing I’ve seen,” Mandel said.
“Ever!” Klum agreed. “It was exhausting to watch! You guys are insanely crazy, and it was wow – it was so entertaining. It was so good. I could not look away.”
Cowell said the group would get his vote for the finals.
Who did the superfans select?
Crews, stretching the suspense of the panel’s selection, revealed its Top 3 for the finals. (Remember they can only select one act to advance.)
As much as Bir Khalsa impressed the judges, the group was nowhere in sight. Crews revealed Dixon; Keren Montero, a singer who won “Dominicana’s Got Talent” in 2021; and mind-reader Peter Antoniou from Season 16 of “AGT,” whom Cowell said lacked showmanship, were the panel’s top picks.
But it was Dixon who the fan votes pushed through to the next round.