Inside the semifinals of America’s Got Talent with Gary Vider, Piff the Magic Dragon and Paul Zerdin

If Howard Stern has his way, all three of the comedic acts who performed Tuesday night on America’s Got Talent will advance to next week’s finals and have a chance to win the $1 million grand prize and a headlining show in Las Vegas.

Watching the 11 acts perform live inside Radio City Music Hall for an audience of thousands — and millions more at homes across America watching NBC — you get a deeper appreciation for how far they’ve already come, and how much they’re pulling it off already. And by they, I also include the stage crew, the rest of the judges and host Nick Cannon, too.

For one thing, two acts (dancers Freelusion and singer Daniella Mass) actually performed earlier in the evening to less than full, attentive audiences; Freelusion at around 6:30 p.m. EDT; Mass, an hour later, or about a half-hour before the show went live on NBC. That’s because their acts included elaborate sets that would have taken too much time to set up and break down inside of commercial breaks during the two-hour broadcast from 8-10 p.m. EDT.

For another, Cannon doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his ability to roll with the mechanics of the production, as well as reading the tiny prompters from the moving cameras on live TV.

Comedian Tom Kelly, who warms up the audience beforehand and throughout, found one young boy with a loose tooth, and one judge Howie Mandel to strap on a glove and pull out said tooth during a commercial break on a $100 dare/bet. Afterward, Mandel joked, “During the next commercial break, I’ll be giving a free Pap smear!” Good luck to the mothers in the audience at Radio City having to explain that to their daughters. No, really. The woman sitting next to me, with a group of young girls seated beside her, asked me to repeat what Mandel had joked. Good luck with that.

But what about the comedians who performed Tuesday night in the AGT semifinals?

I watched Gary Vider rehearse his two-and-a-half-minute set twice on Monday night (at The Stand comedy club, then later at Whiplash at the UCB). His jokes about feeling weak, being Jewish and getting caught staring at judge Mel B.’s cleavage worked well enough. His best joke on Monday at both venues was one in which he jokingly pointed out the fellow Jews in the audiences. Tuesday, though, in the cavern of Radio City, that joke didn’t connect in the hall nearly as well as his closing bit about Mel B.’s boobs. In fact, his counting method of one-boobissippi, two-boobissippi, led not only to a trending Twitter for #boobissippi, but also got fellow judge Heidi Klum into the act.

#BOOBISSIPPI with @officialmelb #AGT10

A photo posted by Heidi Klum (@heidiklum) on

That should help his chances.

Piff the Magic Dragon got twice as much time as the other contestants for his magic trick in this week’s semifinal round.

And ventriloquist Paul Zerdin scored the closing spot in the broadcast, plus a healthy assist from judge Howie Mandel, who played along with all of Zerdin’s prompts.

You’ll have to tune in tonight to see which of these comedians are among the five acts joining comedian Drew Lynch in next week’s finals of season 10 of America’s Got Talent.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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