The last semifinals round of America’s Got Talent Season 16 took place Tuesday, and despite there being a few acts that seemed like shoo-ins for next week’s finals (namely opera prodigy Victory Brinker and former The Voice diva Brooke Simpson), Simon Cowell was not in a good mood. In fact, the curmudgeon judge used his red-X buzzer on not one but three contestants — and one of those contestants, comedian Kabir Singh, actually protested, demanding that the live studio audience boo Simon on the spot.
The riled-up audience readily complied, of course… but ironically, this unscripted, awkward exchange might be the only thing that could save Kabir from elimination on Wednesday's results show.
The trigger-fingered Simon was unimpressed with mentalist Peter Antoniou and hand-balancing trio Rialcris, whose acts dragged on interminably. (Simon griped that the latter’s routine became “boring after 30 seconds.”) But Kabir, who’d done very well this season until this all-important week, got off to a strong start with a series of self-deprecating jokes about dating and relationships. However, at some point he inexplicably lost his momentum and his mojo — and that’s when Simon went for the dreaded red button.
Although the obnoxious buzzer clearly flustered Kabir when he was already struggling, and he never quite recovered, his genuine reaction — he shouted, “Simon, come on! Can I do one more joke? Boo this man!” — was actually pretty amusing. Even Simon admitted he was amused in the end.
“I tell you why I did that,” Simon explained to Kabir. “I think you needed that. It wasn't going great. I thought by giving you a buzz… I think it made the act better, weirdly.”
Kabir’s fellow comedian, judge Howie Mandel, of course questioned Simon’s supposedly altruistic motives, sarcastically quipping, “Yeah, right. As somebody who does comedy every day, a red buzzer or a boo is a great pat on the back to just go for it!” Howie understandably had more empathy for Kabir, saying, “Comedy is hard, and there's a lot of pressure tonight. You're always likable. I think that it didn't go as well as you probably would have loved it to go, but that doesn't mean there aren't millions of people at home that are laughing, and they'll be the ones that have to vote.”
Judge Heidi Klum also had love for Kabir, flirtatiously telling him, “There's something about you — it’s your face, it's your smile. It's infectious. You're so cute!” But Sofia Vergara, while refraining from actually using her buzzer, did agree with Simon that Kabir had had an off night. “I didn't like today. I don't know what happened to you. … There was something in your energy that was weird. … It was a little depressing for me today, and I don't know why,” Sofia sighed.
With only five acts from Tuesday’s episode moving on to next week’s Season 16 finals, the odds are definitely against Kabir, especially since he is going up against another, undeniably funnier standup comic, Josh Blue. Josh’s edgy routine (Simon called it “naughty”) about living with cerebral palsy and competing in the Paralympics even had Simon predicting that Josh could become the first comedian to ever win AGT. (Well, Josh won Last Comic Standing in 2006, so that prediction really wasn’t much of a stretch.) Howie even declared 2021 “the year of Josh Blue.”
Josh will probably be the last comic standing on Wednesday night’s results show, and he’ll likely be standing next to the above-mentioned Victory and Brooke. As for the other two contestants who’ll advance, I’m predicting harmony trio 1achord (even though the Police’s stalker song “Every Breath You Take” was a strange, totally jarring choice for their anthemic, gospel style) and sentimental favorites the Northwell Health Nurse Choir. However, quick-change artist Lea Kyle, dance troupe Chapkidz (who Simon said gave the best performance of the night), and unicycle stunt act Unicircle Flow all have a shot.
And if Kabir likely gets voted off Wednesday, we’ll see if he requests that the studio audience to boo Simon once again.
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