Summer is officially underway, which means the audition phase of America’s Got Talent‘s 10th anniversary season is close to wrapping up. And that’s exciting because then we (and the judges) finally get to start forming opinions instead of just recapping what’s happening. It is, after all, why the next round is called Judgment Week.

But while the introductory portion is nearing its conclusion, we’ve still got a lot of talent to cram into two shows. So we’re sampling some of the best performers to hit the stage, as well as returning to the AGT Extreme Arena for more acts that grace us with their death-defying presence.

We all know that summer’s number one show is celebrating its tin anniversary, but that’s not the only milestone of note. This article is my 400th for BuddyTV, which seems like a lot, right? I think if I get to 500, I should get to be a guest judge on one of these reality shows. Or at least get to wear Nick Cannon’s shiny Mad Max shoes that remind me of the spiky-shelled koopas in Super Mario Bros. 

On to the show!

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The Indoor Good

The show opens with Enra, which is two women in white dresses dancing against a white background. Then the lights go out, and they elegantly interact with various projected polygons, moving lines and shooting stars. The dancing is good but not exceptional, and while it’s entertaining, they’ll definitely need to up their game. Bonus points for the one dancer who was a finalist in Miss Universe Japan doing her best runway model impression, and it’s four yeses to kick things off.

Samantha Johnson is a waitress with dreams of being a professional singer, and she describes herself as self-taught before launching into a soulful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman.” Amateur, schmamateur, because this little lady shows not an ounce of greenness. 

Heavenly Joy Jerkins is a rambunctious 5-year-old girl who has been singing she was 1 and also loves to tap, and if she wins, she’s going to give clothes to people all around the world who don’t have any. It’s adorable and theatrical, and Heavenly doesn’t need this show because she’s headed straight to Broadway. But she might take the title anyway. (Research-based side note: Heavenly Joy’s dad is a four-time Grammy-winning record producer, songwriter and musician, and her mom is a professional singer and actress, so she’s not exactly undiscovered talent.)

Cue the montage. Daniel Sullivan pulls off an aerial hoop routine while wearing a open-chested neon orange singlet, a guy in a cheetah suit does acrobatic contortion and a power lifter turns Oompa Loompa red as he hoists up bleachers with 15 people sitting on them.

Mountain Faith is a father-and-kids blue-grass band whose members all work in papa’s tire shop. The daughter sings and plays violin, while the boys take care of the banjo, bass and guitars for a country rendition of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.” Howard is not a fan of the blue grass genre, but even he’s on board.

A Family Affair

Sixth-generation circus juggler Paul Ponce has just about the craziest act I’ve ever seen, tossing four and five hats up into the sky and then juggling them as they boomerang back. There’s always one on his head and at least two or three flying through the air, and even though Mel B. thought it was too hectic to advance him, I’m with the rest of the judges that this was quite impressive.

Paul’s parents are up next, with Silvia Silvia shooting arrows at her husband with varying multiples of crossbows. The first shots pop two spinning balloons, while the second goes five crossbows deeps and fires five arrows through five balloons pinned to two pieces of cardboard that her husband stands between. So the arrows trap him in the middle and send the parental units through as well. 

The Comedians

pair of your standard awkward guy comedians (“I have an open long-distance relationship with a girl, so basically, I know a girl” and “I’m 5-foot-6, 140 pounds and I suck at sports. I am the female version of myself”) and an Italian comedy duo who wrote an amnesia book called Fuggedaboutit lead into 15-year-old Leo Lytel, a high school freshman whose white socks are plainly visible under his too-short dress pants as he walks on stage.

Lytel has some rather hilarious material that he delivers decently enough to flash some potential. He’s raw, though, which adds to his persona. But he’s the type who could lose appeal as he becomes more comfortable on-stage, so he’ll need to find a healthy balance between “mutant teen,” as he calls it, and seasoned stand-up comic.

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Outdoor Insanity

The Wild West Express is made up of four brothers (the youngest is 6!) and a female neighbor who do acrobatics on horseback, and because people can die, get trampled on or end up paralyzed from falling off horses being ridden normally, they wear helmets. They do some crazy stunts galloping around the track, and it’s honestly a bit terrifying. I don’t know why exactly, but this is scarier to me than the base jumper leaping out of a helicopter. This is more dangerous, even though it all takes place on the ground.

Greg Roe is a 24-year-old lunatic Canadian who likes to jump off really high things. He is lifted to the top of a 140-foot crane, where the biggest danger is wind that could cause him to miss the landing bag entirely. He flips and somersaults his way down 18 stories and nails a perfect on-his-back landing, and it might be the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. Definitely more dangerous than the horse thing.

We close out the show with fishnet-and-heel-wearing glammed-up 41-year-old GILF Nikki McBurnett, who blows herself up in a limousine. After the safety guys douse the flames, the judges put her through.

Time Wasters and “Record” Breakers

Grand Master Qi Feilong is a kung fu healer who channels energy from heaven, and as a result, he feels no pain. Nick Cannon kicked him repeatedly in the jimmy during last year’s auditions, but the energy wasn’t right, and he got buzzed. So now he’s back for another go-round, and he starts by breaking chopsticks on his neck before bending a spoon on his ocular bone and capping it off by lifting a bicycle with his teeth. I have no idea how he’s going through, but only Heidi is wise enough to buzz him this time. 

guy dressed like a viking fails to break the beard-lifting world record.

dude climbs inside a giant pink bubble and bounces around before getting buzzed.

blindfolded guy fails to catch any arrows shot at him. 

Professional wrestler Trizzie D sets a new world record for watermelons broken with a head by bashing 45 in 60 seconds. He’s going through, thanks to his brutally bruised and swollen forehead. He has four yeses, a concussion and Hulk Hogan’s “I Am a Real American” theme song. 

The Godfrey Clan is a Jackass-style stunt family whose members show off their various scars before taking Slip ‘N Slide to the next level. They ride boogie boards down a giant slide before flipping and somersaulting through a ring of fire and generally landing on their necks. It’s four no’s, as Howard describes it as more fun-looking than dangerous. Still, I’m surprised they’re sent home. 

And Then There was One

And so the second-to-last audition show and my 400th article are officially in the books. It was yet another episode that was heavy on the talent and light on the rejections, which has me fearful that they’re saving the worst of the worst for next time. 

Either way, the addition of the extreme acts is a welcome upgrade, though it remains to be seen exactly how it will work when a 5-year-old singer squares off against a magician, a hand balancer and a bunch of guys who set themselves on fire while riding surfboards and crashing show horses into school buses. 

Is the 10th season destined to end with the first daredevil winner, and can these larger-than-life Vegas-style stunt shows continue to up the ante enough to stay relevant? Or are they just unfair to the awkward 15-year-old comedians and creepy kid dancers? 

Which acts were your favorites and who do you see sticking around for the long haul? And was there anyone you were surprised made it through? You know, other than the kung fu guy who breaks and lifts stuff? As the wise young seer told us in The Matrix, “There is no spoon.” Likewise, there’s no chance a spoon bender advances past the next round.

America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order