When Police Academy star Michael Winslow resurfaced on America’s Got Talent earlier this season, he was probably the most famous person to ever try out for the show. Host Terry Crews gushingly called him a “legend,” Howie Mandel called him a “trailblazer,” and Simon Cowell said he was “thrilled” to see the 62-year-old self-described “voicetramentalist” back onstage.
It seemed that the icon who played officer Larvell Jones in all seven Police Academy movies, had roles in ‘80s box-office hits like Gremlins and Spaceballs, and even presented at the 1986 Academy Awards would be a shoo-in for the semifinals, or even the finale. In fact, some viewers even tweeted that it wasn’t totally fair for a star with Michael's illustrious résumé to compete against Season 16’s rookies.
But on Wednesday’s live AGT quarterfinals results show, Winslow found out that his résumé wasn’t such an advantage after all — as he found himself in danger of going home.
During the course of the hour-long episode, hand-balancing trio Rialcris, quick-change artist Lea Kyle, child dancers ChapKidz, pop diva Brooke Simpson, and the martial arts troupe World Taekwondo Demonstration Team all advanced to the semifinals via America’s vote, while magician Klek Entos, novelty act Keith Apicary, rock singer Anica, and the Curtis Family C-Notes band went home. That left three artists in the purgatorial middle group, awaiting their fate. Those acts were wild-card rock singer Storm Large, unicycle stunt act Unicircle Flow, and, surprisingly, Michael Winslow.
To be honest, all three of these artists deserved to be on the chopping block this week, despite their obvious talent. Unicircle Flow had a couple of glaring technical errors on Tuesday’s live performance night; Storm took too much of a chance changing up her look and sound, in the process disappointing her biggest supporter, Simon; and Michael just had an off night, with a sluggish routine that went nowhere and failed to generate many belly-laughs.
“I'm going to be honest with you: I think there's a pattern tonight, which could be nerves. I don't know why, but nobody seems to be doing better than their [first] audition,” Simon lamented Tuesday, after watching Michael’s underwhelming quarterfinals routine.
So, on Wednesday, it was up to America’s instant vote — and while it seemed like Winslow was in a tie with Unicircle Flow at first (which, again, was a surprise), he did eventually scrape through. He reacted to the good news by making rapid heart-palpitation noises, and the heart of Winslow’s biggest fan on the panel, fellow comedian Howie, also seemed to be racing, as Howie told his old colleague: “I'm so proud of you, Michael. I think you came to the competition already an accomplished superstar, and you've showed everybody out there how important this stage is. And I would say to you, you do you and you’ve got nothing to be nervous about. You deserve to be here. I know it's hard to get back onstage when you've been gone for a long time.”
The judges ended up saving Unicircle Flow, so it was Storm’s journey that ended this week. (Simon didn’t even vote for the poor woman!) But will Winslow’s journey last much longer? We’ll find out when the semifinals start next week.
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