People can talk all they want about Britney Spears and Demi Lovato joining The X Factor or whether Jennifer Lopez will be back for a third season of American Idol, but the most relevant judging hire in a very long time was adding Howard Stern to the panel of America’s Got Talent.
That’s both a compliment to Stern and a criticism of his predecessor Piers Morgan, who came across as an elitist hellbent on making the show about something it wasn’t. Stern comes in realizing that America’s Got Talent is about novelty and finding an act like no other reality program.
Sure, Stern can take some getting used to, but anybody expecting to see his shock-jock schtick was either going to be sadly disappointed or pleasantly surprised. Sure, there are the token genital references and some inappropriate comments. We knew he wouldn’t be able to completely leave his potty mouth at the stage door, and he made that clear from the beginning.
“These NBC executives must be out of their minds taking a risk on me,” he said after being introduced. “They should be fired immediately.”
The flip side, though, is that he can be very endearing, as evidenced by his comment to a dance group that performed in the dark with illuminated costumes: “This is going to sound sappy. We are the greatest country in the world. You are everything that makes America great.”
And as refreshing as it was to see Stern show a softer side, it was fortunately the exception rather than the rule. While he has no problem complimenting good performances, the highlight of his first two shows was watching the quick wit that made him famous.
Here are some of the funnier comments he made this week:
–To a guy wearing tight pants: “I had a lot of hope for you … I was really rooting for you … I wanted to see some magic and all I saw was a guy with his pants off … and a rather small package.”
–To an untalented contestant who said his parents are no longer living: “Did they die of embarrassment?”
–To a little person in a group of dancers: “The little person in the front there, I love how your buttocks looks in that outfit. It’s perfect.”
–To a man wearing strange makeup and a helmet: “The minute I saw you I knew I was going to hate you.”
–To a teenage boy who performed a balancing act: “I can’t stand that you’re more ripped than me, and you’re only a 17-year-old punk.”
–To a female singer in a skimpy outfit: “The dancing wasn’t good, the singing wasn’t good, but the Supergirl underpants are fantastic.”
–To an overweight male dancer: “I was hoping [fellow judges Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne] would hit the buzzer on you, because you looked like you were going to have a heart attack. You would think with this kind of aerobic activity, you’d be a little more svelte.”
Photo: © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC Credit: Chris Haston