“America’s Got Talent” kicked off season 16 on June 1 with a two-hour premiere. All four judges from last season returned: veterans Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel plus Sofia Vergara who joined “AGT” in 2020. Terry Crews once again brings his trademark enthusiasm to his hosting duties.
In the audition phase of “AGT,” an act needs at least three of the four judges to give them a “yes” vote to advance to the next round. If two or more judges buzz the act, they are immediately eliminated. Each judge and Crews has one chance to hit the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight through to the live performances.
The format will be the same this year as last, with “America’s Got Talent” airing initially just on Tuesdays with the first six weeks devoted to the auditions that took place around the country. Then there will be four weeks of Judge Cuts beginning in July, followed by the series of live performance shows and results episodes.
Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “America’s Got Talent” Season 16 Episode 1 in our updating live blog.
8:00 p.m. – Seeing Terry and this golden buzzer intro to the new season is reminding me how much I love seeing all that confetti rain down on performers. It’s always a goosebumps moment for me, sometimes with tears, and I realize now how much I’ve missed this show! Let’s gooooo season 16!
8:03 p.m. – You may be surprised to see that the show has mostly returned to its former glory this season, including the return of Simon (in shorts!) and a full audience. The first act to experience the fruits of this “return to normal” was The Canine Stars, a dog comedy act that entered the stage in costume as the four judges and Terry. From there they ran through a script of having another dog audition for the four dog judges. Later they explained that they are a traveling company of dogs “and their people” with a goal of showing the world how to be good with dogs and to promote pet adoption. All the judges were over the moon about the act, agreeing with Howie who called it the best animal act ever on the show and Heidi who called them “genius.” This one was an easy call for the judges to make: four “yes” votes.
8:12 p.m. – Next to take the stage was Peter Rosalita, a ten year old singer from The Philippines with the lofty goal of buying a Nintendo Switch if he wins the million dollars. Even loftier was his risk to sing Celine Dion‘s “All By Myself” for his audition, but one huge (and I mean huge) note in the chorus made it seem like it wasn’t a risk at all. Simon called it an “incredible audition” and said that parts of the song gave him goosebumps. Both he and Sofia agreed that he will be loved by the audience before joining Heidi and Howie in giving Peter four “yes” votes to advance.
8:21 p.m. – We also saw Brian Pankey‘s balancing act and dance trio Elektro Botz, both of which got an X from Simon and not enough votes to move on in the competition. They were followed by aerial artist Aidan Bryant, self-taught by watching Pink concerts and YouTube videos. Though he began in the art form by hanging a sheet to a tree, tonight he performed with an aerial ring, spinning within, on top and outside of it sometimes at unbelievable speed. Sofia was beyond impressed, amazed that Aidan was able to teach himself to that level in just two years and Simon let him know that his “ridiculously good” audition is exactly what they’re looking for on the show. With that, Aidan became the fourth four-“yes” act to advance.
8:34 p.m. – Current holder of 22 world records, Mr. Cherry and Chikki were up next, coming from Japan so that Mr. Cherry could break another record: breaking the most walnuts on his butt. Terry explained that in order for Mr. Cherry to set the new record he’d have to crush at least 72 of the 80 walnuts on stage in under 30 seconds using only his butt. Using perfect scooting form, Mr. Cherry managed to crush 79 of the the nuts to successfully break the record. In order to verify that it’s not an easy thing to accomplish, Sofia got on the stage to see how hard or easy it is to crush a walnut with your butt. She was unable to do it and had to return to the dais with a bruise. Simon gave the act a surprising “yes” vote while it was a “no” for Howie. Sofia gave them a second “yes,” leaving it down to Heidi but she decided that she’s seen enough and congratulated them on their record as she sent them home with a second “no” vote.
8:46 p.m. – The next group was the Northwell Nurse Choir, a group of 18 nurses workers out of New York City that worked on the front line through the pandemic. As a choir their mission is to “shoot out some joy and love” to help people “find their resilience.” For their audition they sang a mash-up of “Lean on Me” and “Stand by Me” that included singing, beat-boxing and lite rap elements. They rightfully earned a standing ovation from the audience and the entire judges panel. Simon, Sofia and Heidi were all moved by the performance, getting chills and declaring that it’s an audition that people will remember. Howie spoke to the heroism of the group and how perfect the song choices were for what they did this year, saying that now he wants to stand by them by hitting the golden buzzer!
9:00 p.m. – Kicking off the second hour of the premiere was Keith Apicary who specializes in what he called “bodily maneuvers.” Prior to his audition Keith prefaced by saying that he is “not a dancer” and that he just likes to dance. While mostly silly, his acrobatic dance moves were pretty crisp and kept pace with the hyper-fast music. Simon admitted that he expected it to be awful, but that he thought it was amazing and would rather watch him again than ballet acts. Sofia and Howie agreed that it was unexpected and a surprise. As the judges slowly revealed their “yes” votes, Keith became emotional and grateful for the positive reception. We also saw clips of Jell-O wrestler Katie Kusiciel who received four simultaneous X votes.
9:10 p.m. – On AGT, as one unintentionally comedic act leaves the stage, an intentionally funny one enters. Next up was stand up comedian Gerald Kelly as well as his seven year old son and direct competition Lil Hunter Kelly. Gerald explained that during the pandemic he hosted stand up comedy in his backyard to local audiences. As if preparing for what would come next, Gerald’s set centered on being a father and his frustrations helping his kids with homework and the difference between raising girls and boys. Howie supported Gerald’s set by saying he’s likable, has good timing and stage presence, but offered that the material wasn’t as good as those other aspects. Heidi defended the set though, and ultimately all four judges offered a “yes” vote to Gerald.
9:21 p.m. – When Hunter entered the stage it was immediately clear that he was Gerald’s son and once he started declaring himself better than his dad the audience was already in the palms of his hands. With his first joke (“He’s a loser! I’m seven years old and we have the same job”), Hunter was well on his way to a successful set, but midway lost his footing and stalled out before recouping with a Kevin Hart joke. Howie called out Hunter’s “going blank” and applauded him for bouncing back from it, saying that it shows star quality. The judges were head over heels for Hunter, easily giving him four “yes” votes just like his dad.
9:31 p.m. – Though they only met a month a half prior at university, 1achord had already formed a musical trio. Their rendition of “Fix You” by Coldplay was a lesson in harmonizing and rearrangement. Sofia thought that if they’re already as good as they are that the more experience they get as a group they can only improve. All of the judges likened the group to music they would have heard in church and Simon called it a “near perfect” audition. It was a clear vote for “yes” across the panel.
9:42 p.m. – The first magic act of the season came from Dustin Tavella, a guy who believes in two kinds of magic: the kind you see on stage and the kind that positively impacts another human life. To display both kinds, Dustin engaged Terry and all the judges in card and mind tricks that related back to photos taken in February 2020 of when Dustin and his wife adopted their son. Howie called the act “all encompassing” because it checked every box including magic and emotion. As if the dropped jaws of the judges wasn’t enough to signal Dustin would move on in the competition, the four “yes” votes certainly did it!
9:54 p.m. – The final act of the night was Sethward, back for his fourth time auditioning for the show. Tonight he descended from the rafters dressed as a peacock, but upon announcing himself by name Simon was already hitting his X button. For the act, Sethward tried to seduce “new” judge Sofia with dance moves that eventually made his back feathers fall off. At that point Heidi also hit her X, but the performance continued to the point of him climbing a rock and attempting to fly. Heidi called the act a “hot mess” and Simon called it “horrible,” but Howie and Sofia both delivered with “yes” votes. Though she already hit her X, Heidi decided to ask the audience and because “everyone loved” it she switched her vote to “yes,” advancing Sethward to the next round.