If all of America had a talent show, what would be the top acts?
On Sunday at the Saenger Theatre, that question will be answered with “America’s Got Talent Live: The All-Stars Tour!” The first event of its kind, the 42-city tour presents the talents of six of the top acts drawn from the first 10 seasons of the No. 1 rated summer reality television series, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Offering a little something for every interest, the lineup includes powerhouse songstress Emily West; worldwide acclaimed acrobats, the KriStef Brothers; USA Today’s “National Act of the Year” for a record-breaking six times, junk rock musicians Recycled Percussion; a surreal mix of dance and multimedia effects called Blue Journey, and jaw dropping slight of hand by Smoothini, the ghetto Houdini.
Hosting the 75-minute variety show will be comedian Taylor Williamson, who describes his comedy style as “silly, absurd, ridiculous, dry…and handsome.”
In addition to the title of youngest comic ever to perform on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” Williamson was a semi-finalist on the seventh and final season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” and the runner up on season eight of “America’s Got Talent.”
Williamson said that, despite his multiple successes over 10 years of performing, it was his connection with “America’s Got Talent” that really saved his career.
“When I went and auditioned, things were the worst they’d ever been for me,” he said. “It was all pure desperation. I needed this.”
Williamson’s fears were somewhat assuaged with his first experience with the judges — Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel — who all gave Williamson an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“You’re quick. You’ve got that kind of mind that can come out here and win everyone over in 90 seconds,” said Stern.
Though it was wonderful, Williamson said the AGT experience was also completely terrifying.
“From the start we were all expected to bring our best stuff, and then with each round it was supposed to get even better,” he said.
“That’s really tough to do.”
Since finishing with the show a few years ago, Williamson has been touring on his own, and is about to release his first comedy special.
For Smoothini, the “ghetto Houdini,” a.k.a. Tomas De la Cruz, who began performing at the age of eight in the streets of New York City, the audition for AGT was completely unintentional.
The self-described, “comedy, hip-hop magic man,” said he was working as a bar magician in Las Vegas when “these guys invited me to come up to their suite and entertain at a 40th birthday party. So I went, and it turned out everybody from AGT was there. I did a 45-minute performance and at the end they asked me if I wanted to be on the show.”
Now, with the tour, Smoothini said he’s thrilled to be “all over the show.”
“I love to interact with people, so when I agreed to do the tour it was with the condition that I could really do that as much as possible. I’m out in the crowd before the show starts, and again at intermission. I love to get the kids involved in my tricks too.”
A bar magician at his core, Smoothini said he frequently performs spontaneously outside of the tour.
“I love to just pop up somewhere in the city I’m in and just start performing,” he said.
“I’ve never been to New Orleans and I’m so excited. The city just seems built for me.”