Here’s the deal. 2006 saw the debut of NBC’s optimistically-titled America’s Got Talent. This was a spinoff of the original version that was created in Britland by professional smirker Simon Cowell. The show now has versions in over forty countries, including: Norway’s Norske Talenter, France’s La France a un Incroyable Talent, and Germany’s Das Supertalent (judge Dieter Bohlen is tops!).
And I managed to go nearly six years without watching a single episode of any of them.
Until this week.
I was frolicking through my vast array of television stations when I saw some people exhibiting unusual behavior on a well-lit stage, in front of an overly-hyped audience. The presence of Nick Cannon, grinning and gesturing enthusiastically from the side of the stage confirmed the fact that I was watching that which I had never watched.
But I decided to give it a chance.
Then, as if immediately mocking my decision to watch for a few minutes, this guy came out and proceeded to allow a bunch of fellows to repeatedly kick and hit him about the testicle area. Where I come from, volunteering to have your groin pulverized isn’t a talent. Being an idiot isn’t an accomplishment. It’s not a special skill (Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, Exceptional Leadership Abilities, Can Withstand Frequent Kicks to the Crotch). And yet, all three “judges” went crazy for it.
I understand why they put him on TV. After all, to pull off an act like this you really have to have some cajones (or, perhaps, the exact opposite is true). And, as America’s Funniest Home Videos has long proven, people never, ever tire of watching public shots to private parts. (I, on the other hand, have the unique ability to tire of it before it even starts). What I don’t understand is why the judges seemed to genuinely love it.
I mean, how did Sharon Osbourne land this gig? As best I can tell, her talent is being married to someone with talent. And why shock jock Howard Stern (doing his best to be as unshocking as possible) gets to decide which magician, or singer, or family jewels destroyer moves on to the next level is beyond me. And why Mandel and his buddies were so easily impressed is the most flummoxing of all.
Because after the first guy hobbled off, two guys with some dogs took the stage. As soon as she saw the mutts, Sharon Osbourne began to jump up and down with the type of excitement usually reserved for lottery winners. Had she never seen dogs before? The act hadn’t even started and Stern was already grinning like a twelve year old girl at her first Justin Bieber concert and Mandel’s mouth was agape in amazement as if someone had just offered him a job judging a talent show.
The dogs were okay. They jumped around. One of them could do a back flip. It was pretty impressive the first time. Less so the eighth through eleventh. Look, if I wanted to see dogs jumping rope, I’d…I don’t want to see dogs jumping rope.
There were a few other memorable acts that I can’t remember. All in all I lasted about twenty minutes before I had to change the channel (it’s as if the show itself were kicking me in the crotch).
I could go on. I could elaborate on how America’s Got Easily Impressed Celebrity Judges. I could discuss how America’s Got A Lot of People Willing to Stand in Line for a Long Time for Fifteen Seconds of Fame. I could argue that America’s Got One Reality Show Too Many. But it’s almost time for Das Supertalent, I hear they’ve got a guy on tonight who lets a dog back flip karate kick him right in the bratwurst. Ich bin ein idiot.