Kenan Thompson has participated in hundreds of live shows during his tenure on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” And the newest guest judge for “America’s Got Talent” has a word of advice to the contestants.
“The only thing I can say is ‘seize the moment.’ If you have nerves, turn those nerves into superpowers. Go out there and take it. This is your moment,” said Thompson, who filled in for Simon Cowell as he recovers from breaking his back in an electric-bike accident.
And the judges were sure that “AGT” was close to another injury during the second round of quarterfinals Tuesday after daredevil Jonathan Goodwin’s “scary” act.
Goodwin, who was doused in oil, said he was going to attempt to escape padlocks and shackles with his vision impaired in under 20 seconds while flames closed in on him. To raise the stakes, this was Goodwin’s first time attempting the escape act.
“Do they have a medic here?” Sofía Vergara asked. “I don’t want to see this.”
Goodwin caught fire before successfully escaping and being extinguished. At one point during the act, Howie Mandel called for help: “He’s on fire, somebody move in… Why is everybody just standing there?”
When the coast was clear and Goodwin emerged unharmed, Mandel joked, “Well done. See what I did there with the fire?” Heidi Klum added, “How can you say anything negative to a man who puts himself on fire for us?”
Despite being scared, the judges appreciated Goodwin upping the ante.
“I thought you were in trouble. I think that’s amazing and I’m glad you are alive,” Mandel said. Vergara quipped: “I am so grateful that I am not your mother. It’s insanity.”
The judges, however, were instantly soothed by The Voices of Our City Choir’s (host Terry Crew’s Golden Buzzer winner) harmonizing rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.”
The performance made Thompson emotional. “I don’t know if you get a kick out of making people cry their eyes out, but that’s what you guys do every time you hit the stage.”
Vergara said the choir’s performance signifies “the love that we need right now.” Mandel added, “Now more than ever, we keep saying we are all in this together. Everyone needs to stand by you.”
In total, 11 acts performed during Tuesday’s quarterfinals round, mainly from Universal Studios Hollywood’s soundstage, theme park and the famed back lot.
One act joined via satellite from the other side of the world due to pandemic travel restrictions. Duo Bad Salsa wowed from a Bollywood-inspired stage in India with their fast-paced, high-flying dance routine that Klum confused with a daredevil act.
“Is it a dance act or danger act?” Klum quipped. “You were going so fast!”
The acts that performed Tuesday were: Kelvin Dukes, Bonavega, The Voices of Our City Choir, Kameron Ross and Daneliya Tuleshova (singers); The Shape (dance group); Bad Salsa (salsa duo); Spyros Brothers (variety act); Alexis Brownley (dog act); Vincent Marcus (impressionist); Jonathan Goodwin (daredevil).
Vergara declared Tuesday’s quarterfinals was “owned by the kids,” following Tuleshova’s stellar rendition of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.”
“So much maturity and grace at 14 years old,” Klum said, while Thompson added, “I was blown away. I couldn’t believe that giant voice was coming out of a 14-year-old like that. You have such a depth in your soul.”
Mandel said the preteen from Kazakhstan is “beyond your years,” predicting that she would not only become a star but go very far in the competition: “I can see that you have an amazing future.”
But the fate of the contestants is up to America, and only five of Tuesday’s acts will advance to the semifinals.
Fans can vote up to 10 times for each act on NBC.com/AGTvote, the “America’s Got Talent” app and through Xfinity Voice Remote. The acts in the semifinals will be revealed during Wednesday’s results show, which will include guest performances from “AGT” winners Kodi Lee and Mat Franco (NBC, 8 EDT/PDT).