Would you rather pay to see a guy with a creepy puppet or a guy with a headless mannequin?
Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC

Marlon Wayans made quite a splash when he was announced as the guest judge on America’s Got Talent. Based on the amount of screaming fans, I believe Marlon might be more famous than all four other judges combined. Please note that this speculation does not include the wonder that is Nick Cannon. Any man who can match his shades to the exact electric blue of his suit deserves to reign as king of the AGT castle.

The judges have a tough night ahead of them. Twenty acts will perform and only seven will advance to Radio City Music Hall. Let’s break down the competition…

Triple Threat

Boy Band

Why you remember them: Together since high school

Triple Threat has been very busy since we last checked in. Girls actually recognize them on campus and one even scored a phone number. Best day ever! These guys are completely charming. And they can sing, too. The trio attack Ariana Grande’s “Problem” and even sound respectable on the rapping part. Howard works hard to dash their dreams, but the other judges disagree. Nerd power!

The Squad

Dance Crew

Why you remember them: One dude has a freakishly long, and white, ponytail

During rehearsals, one of The Squad members missed a flip and landed on his back. Ironically, medics put ice on his toes. He is able to execute the back flip on stage without cracking his head open (thank you for the slow motion clip, NBC) and the team finishes the routine with clean, sharp movements. Unfortunately, they performed right before Animation Crew. No offense against The Squad, but comparing their style against Animation Crew is like comparing apples to apple pie. The foundation is the same, but one is definitely sweeter.

Animation Crew

Dance Crew

Why you remember them: Danced out of an artist rendering like the A-Ha video in round one

On the outside, Animation Crew is a silly group of guys who just want to dance. But combine red sequin jackets, fake mustaches, and a whacked out version of “I’ll Be There,” and something magical happens. Their talent extends beyond the animation of their bodies. The presentation of the performance is remarkable. Not to mention the fact that it’s quite different from their previous act. You know you’ve got a winning ticket to Radio City when numerous people backstage whisper, “daaaaammmmmnnnnnn” under their breath.

Oleskiy Mogylnyy

Hand Balancer

Why you remember him: Two words—headless mannequin

Oleskiy isn’t lacking in the shirtless department. With that said, his act is simply odd. Who dramatically dances to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with a headless woman? My mind was struggling the entire time. It’s so weird, yet he’s so pretty. Why is he grabbing the mannequin’s boob? Am I supposed to be laughing or suggesting a good therapist? Did I mention he’s pretty? Why am I rooting for him?

Johnny Shelton


Why you remember him: Son passed away from cancer

Johnny is back and ready to leave all emotion on the stage. The emotion he chooses this round is feelings of nostalgia. He sings “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert. The crowd and the judges fall into a mellow vibe under the smooth sound of Johnny’s voice. Will his lack of energy backfire against him?

Paul Zerdin


Why you remember him: He’s amazing. The end.

Paul commands the stage with his creepy puppet baby. He easily makes the audience forget that he’s the only living person on that stage. It’s obvious that he’s been doing this for a very long time. In fact, he’s so talented that Marlon slams his golden buzzer! Paul’s look of shock is endearing. Like Mel B., I’m looking forward to meeting more of his puppets. That is not a euphemism.

NEXT: I’m officially freaking out


Professional Mentalist

Why you remember him: Knew Mel B. had a vacation in Fiji in 1998

I knew Oz would go far when I saw that the audience already has a hand gesture and nickname for him. Make an “O” with your hands and then shout, “oooooooohhhhhhhhh.” Brilliant. The good news is that he actually has a winning act in my opinion. I was impressed when he was able to guess correctly that Howie was thinking of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. But when he guesses Howard’s celebrity by snipping a little piece of paper that results in a silhouette of Oprah Winfrey’s face? I was done. If he doesn’t win, I’m sure Howard will take him around to entertain at parties.

Pretty Big Movement

Dance Crew

Why you remember them: Full-figured women who embrace their curves

Sports bras unite! Pretty Big Movement is going to “Bang, Bang” into the room. I understand that it was all over the map and a bit messy, but I still like these women. I do not agree with Heidi—they were not boring. And they certainly didn’t deserve a buzz from Howard. Keep dancing ladies!

Mountain Faith Band

Family Folk Band

Why you remember them: When they aren’t practicing, they work at the garage

Mountain Faith Band had a pretty significant intro package that featured a 22-year love affair with the mom and the dad. Apparently, he still goes weak in the knees when he sees her. So freaking cute. The lead singer has a Carrie Underwood feel about her. They sang a rip-roaring rendition of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” Essentially, they woke up a bored audience and were rewarded by chants of, “Put them through!”


Contortionist and Hand Balancer

Why you remember her: She doesn’t have bones

Vita chooses to perform with a box in lieu of a headless mannequin. It is a good call. With all the writhing, bending, flexing, and winking going on, I kept thinking there should have been a pole in there somewhere. She’s a strong woman with ridiculous upper body strength. I’m not sure this is a Vegas act. She’s more of a Cirque du Soleil performer. We’ll see if America agrees with me.

Benton Blout


Why you remember him: Duck Dynasty beard and bald head

Benton meanders onto the stage, nods in the general direction of the judges, and then proceeds to growl out a rousing version of “Jolene” made famous by every musician you know. It is a man and his guitar and a bunch of audience members who can’t clap to the beat to save their lives. I loved every second.

Other than Mel B. announcing that the judges are insane, they waste no time deliberating on which acts will move forward. Everyone is rushed out and winners are announced with six minutes left in the show.

Honor Roll skate crew and Evoke Tap Movement are bested by Oz. O’s up everyone! Vita easily beats out a man with a bird and the dude with a mannequin. She cries. A young dancer (who landed 10-seconds of air time) and Stacy Kay’s rock band bowed down to the family members of Mountain Faith. Pretty Big Moment and a tiny ninja were forced to congratulate the adorkable men of Triple Threat. Drag Queen Randy Roberts and The Squad didn’t stand a chance against Animation Crew.

And then there were three. Sweet Brittney Allen, who completely botched her audition, stood beside two soulful dads—Benton and Johnny. In the end, the judges gave the golden ticket to Benton and wished Johnny the best of luck.

What did you think? Did Paul deserve the golden buzzer? Is the Animation Crew as cool as I think they are? Will anyone be able to beat Piff the Magic Dragon? I think Oz may have shot. Ooooooonly time will tell.

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