I've been quiet about this season's "America's Got Talent," but last night's "YouTube" episode, which featured the talents of Rudy Coby, Eric Buss and Puck, has motivated me to comment.
I think that the "America's Got Talent" (AGT) judges were particularly harsh towards the magicians. To start, I wonder if a lot of problem is the format. The judges are watching 90-second snippets of the performers' acts and don't get to see how pros such as Coby, Buss and Puck develop their personalities and create a rapport with their audiences during full shows. Great magic isn't always about big boxes and pyro.
Another concern is that the judges mentioned that they had already seen the performances - I'm assuming through the YouTube videos that were voted on. But if the judges had already seen and studied the routines (I'm not sure that this is the case), then the performances would lack the element of surprise and suffer from a reduction of impact.
Still "Coolest Magician"
Coby is a complete pro with an entertaining, brilliant and creative act. In Coby's television special from decades ago, his "Puppet Boy" routine was his closer. By the time this routine arrived in that television special, the audience had been treated to great magic and gotten to known Coby's unusual humor and stage personality. I'm saddened that a pro with this level of talent would be criticized in this manner by the judges.
Buss is another pro who was brutalized by the judges. I've enjoyed Buss' act many times at the Magic Castle and his zany character wasn't given a chance to build and show in the short 90-seconds that he was given. This routine is a crowd pleaser. But don't simply take it from me. If Buss' routine was good enough for him to be featured on David Letterman's show, it's good enough for AGT.
Puck delivered a great routine and performance. As with Buss, I have enjoyed watching Puck at the Magic Castle and I think his "dancing handkerchief" is the best that I've seen (along with that of David Copperfield from an early TV special). At least Puck was spared the snide comments from the judges.
To win AGT in the future, I guess magicians will almost have to toss out the elements that make for a great magic show and rapidly perform one big illusion after another to satisfy the judges' insatiable need for a "wow factor." Character, great scripting as well as baffling magic? Forget it. Just slam out the big illusions and hope for the best.
You can watch the AGT episode on NBC's site here.