America’s Got Talent: Holiday Spectacular
America’s Got Talent celebrated the holidays by bringing back what was billed as everyone’s favorite acts from all eleven seasons. The one caveat was that they didn’t get to perform the routines they do every day…the ones that made them famous. They were asked to perform holiday-themed routines. For singers and musicians this is easy. There are tons of holiday standards that are available.
But America’s Got Talent isn’t just about singers. A staple of the show is the Variety Acts. This is where the creativity of the performers (and their teams) becomes important. Should the acts create something unique or should they just put a Santa hat on and call it Christmas? Superstar Ventriloquist Terry Fator won the First Season of AGT with a combination of his unique comedy, puppets and routines. He merely brought out his Elvis character and sang Blue Christmas. He did it beautifully but still, no new ground was broken. The Olate Dogs did their regular act wearing red and green dog sweaters while their trainers wore Santa Suits. The Regurgitator vomited ornaments for a miniature Christmas tree and the daredevil Professor Splash did a seasonally appropriate dive into a pool of eggnog. All of these were GREAT acts but again, we have seen these acts do similar things in the past.
There was still hope for originality in the various magic acts participating. There is a quick video appearance by Jon Dorenbos doing a trick in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room. Jon was in Season 11 and he performed a sleight of hand card trick about four Jacks trying to get off the Naughty list and on to the Nice list. Close up magic is always hard to do on TV, but Jon’s personality and showmanship are what sells it. Jon’s appearance is brief but is shows how Jon easily could have won if more people that loved magic had supported him.
The Clairvoyants were the runners up of Season 11 and are currently part of The Illusionists – Turn of the Century on Broadway. Their holiday routine was a recreation of the Christmas Carol story using their mentalist magic. While most people would have thought that they would cast Simon Cowell as Scrooge, they chose Howie Mandell instead. The duo correctly identified where Howie Scrooge put various items and then they revealed the text from the Charles Dickens story which matched exactly with what Howie did during the act.
Piff The Magic Dragon, Penn and Teller, and Mat Franco get jammed into one time slot near the end of the show. They are three great acts that just didn’t jell like you would hope. Penn and Teller worked with Piff and they presented themselves as The Three Wise Guys Men. This routine proved how difficult it is to create original, unique and memorable holiday routines. A highlight was watching Teller produce the dove…Clearly Johnny Thompson worked with him on this bit.
Mat got to do his magic trick alone, but it didn’t feel that impressive or interesting for him. Mat does make the smart move of directly involving Simon because Simon’s reaction to magic that fools him is incredible.
After watching this special we would like to see Penn and Teller: Fool Us do a special and bring back the guys that fooled them to do something with a holiday theme. If not Fool Us maybe the producers of Wizard Wars will bring that program back for a Christmas Special.