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'America's Got Talent' recap: Queen Emily rescues the hyperbole-fest

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Fifty-five million people agree…America’s Got Talent was on last night!

We started this week of brazen hyperbole back in New York (again) after six weeks of tryouts. Don’t ask me when we’re going to get to the actual season. Check back in November and we might be on our fifth trip back to Atlanta. First up was the woeful Perry Zanett, self-proclaimed “Greatest Actor this country has ever had.” He ran his monologue right into poor Yorick’s grave, and the next 10 minutes worth of acts weren’t much better, which got me wondering if there’s anyone undiscovered and talented left in New York. Really? No one? There was a really good barbershop quartet on the subway yesterday, where the hell were they?

Apparently the overwhelming lack of talent started playing games with the judges’ minds, seeing how Ronny B., accurately dubbed a “strange little fellow” by Sharon, advanced to Vegas by giving the least sexy song-and-dance routine I’ve ever seen (embedded clip below, if you dare). Now don’t get me wrong: I understand the joy of personal expression. Soyou go, Ronny B., dance your heart out. But please, make yourself happyin the privacy of your own home.

It wasn’t all off-key caterwauling and monologuing, though. Every episode of America’s Got Talent is required by federal law (seriously!) to have at least one heart-wrenching back story from asoulful singer, and Xavier Lewis (X.L.) fit the bill quite nicely. This is a man working hard to keep food on the tablefor his wife and infant son, but who also dreams of Vegas glory, and thank God this time the story hada happy (and tuneful) ending. Lewis sang “Ordinary People” so well that Piers Morgandeclared him better than John Legend. And the audience savored therare minute of auditory bliss.

There’s a cadence to everyepisode of America’s Got Talent. Basically, for the first 42 minutes,the show makes you lose faith in humanity and entertainment. And then they give youQueen Emily. Emily, the single mom. Emily, who’s unable to keep a job.Emily, with a voice I’d trade a finger for. Emily, whose church-grown pipes make the Hoff get up and dance (and, from the looksof it, unbutton at least two more buttons on his shirt). Why do youalways do this, America’s Got Talent?  I’m always so ready to becomethe pessimist, and then you make me regret not stocking up on tissues. You’re evil that way, and I keep coming back for more.

So does America’s Got Talent make you cry, make you want tochange the channel, or a little of both? Will Ronny B. just end up playing at bus stationsin Vegas? And how does Sharon manage to make an insult (“you look likea shrunken Marc Anthony”) sound cute?