Other night, I tuned in to America’s Got Talent, and was tickled to discover one remarkably accomplished performer – a dog names Hero — nearing the end of what I imagined to have been a marvelous performance. Talk about novelty. Hero and trainer Sara Carson interacted in the most unexpected ways. That’s the wonder of circus discovery.
And then came a shocking display of judging indifference. Two of the four judges, Mel and Howie, adamantly refused to be impressed!
What? Were they kidding? Pre-scripted? I could not believe my eyes.
Neither could Simon Cowell, astonished and not a little angry. He had loved the act as much as did the audience, as much as did I.
So distraught over the two dissenters, whose thumbs down eliminated the act, Simon huffed and puffed up onto the stage, as if willfully defying ground rules, joined Hero and Sara, and made a direct appeal to the audience for a show of support, which it delivered in cheering waves. Then he pleaded with Howie and Mel to reverse their votes. Mel held firm. Howie reversed his, thus allowing Hero through to the next phase! And you'd thought Simon had just parted the red sea.
Simon is not the most famous entertainment critic in the world for nothing.
I love this show, even though I only ever see parts of it, and I love these particular judges, who generally, in the face of circus action, display such embracing enthusiasm. They are Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and Simon No Montreal airs compete on this program. No navel-gazing or artsy posturing of the sort that we saw far too much of on the ill-fated Celebrity Circus from NBC, a few years back. Pandering, really fawning, to the Cirque du Soleil stye of act, the humdrum Celebrity lasted through but five dreary episodes.
In fact, the America's Got Talent judges can sometimes be so taken by what many of us might consider a staple act, that I am left to wonder how many circuses any of them have seen in recent times.
Never you mind, they are helping to remind Americans why we still go to circus shows.
And Simon leads the way. Although, he has issues with clowns, a fearful aversion he openly revealed last season. Which may make the producers, of whom he is one, more open — and comedic characters more challenged to deliver on — quirky variations on clowning, sans traditional makeup and floppy shoes.
America's Got Talent reaches millions and so perhaps this show is doing more to keep alive a vibrant impression of circus than any other venue out there. When the young people taking up circus arts in our nation’s classrooms watch the show, I hope they are inspired to respect the primal power of the big top basics. After all, a trick is a trick is a trick.
Oh, what a night it was. Praise the dog and damn those judges!