Canada’s Got Talent, Toronto auditions: Recap
  • Mon, 03/05/2012 - 22:13

Deb Yeo
Reality TV

If you like your reality TV with a heavy helping of schadenfreude, Canada’s Got Talent might not be the show for you.

If you like to laugh, to be amazed, impressed, even frightened, to have your heartstrings tugged and, in general, be entertained, pull up a couch.

All of that was in evidence in the first episode of this homegrown version of America’s/Britain’s Got Talent, where we saw contestants audition for judges Martin Short, Measha Brueggergosman and Stephan Moccio at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

They had 90 seconds to show their talent in hopes of getting to the next round and, ultimately, winning the $100,000 cash prize, a Nissan GT-R, a chance to perform in Las Vegas and a spot onstage at Citytv’s televised New Year’s Eve bash.

The acts, as you might expect, ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.

In the former category: the guy who stapled a photo of Martin to his brother’s face (Martin had the wit to go onstage and sign it for him after) then put a fork up his nose in the Monsters of Shlock act.

Then there was the sparkly clown who came out in a bullet bra, red wig, green plaid drawers and glittery makeup, twirled a hula hoop in very rudimentary fashion and stripped to silver bikini bottoms; or Brant the Fire Guy, who kept dropping his fire sticks while trying to skateboard with them.

But the ultimate in “What was she thinking?” was Breigh Scheefer.

The long-legged blond talked obliquely about the talent she had discovered when she was 5 years old that had made her parents proud. She took the stage in a strapless satin dress, prompting Martin to exclaim, “You’re going through to the next round!” before she’d uttered a word. And after telling the judges she’d rather show than talk about her talent, she opened her mouth and let out a big belch. She kept belching as each judge in turn pressed their red X buzzers to reject the act.

“It’s like having (opera singer) Maria Callas back; it’s unbelievable,” quipped Martin. “I say fantastic, but no.”

Breigh belched her thank you.

On the sublime side, there were husband and wife immigrants from Belarus, known as Fantasy Circus. The husband, Leonid, placed a platform on top of a cylinder on a small table and balanced precariously as the cylinder rolled back and forth. His wife Tatyana tossed him platform after platform (dropping one in one suspenseful moment) until Leonid was atop at least six of them, still rolling on that unstable-looking cylinder.

“I had a couple of strokes there, I won’t lie,” Measha told them before the judges granted three yeses and entree to the next round.

And then there was magician and illusionist Volodymyr Martyniuk, 52. At first it looked like Volodymyr might be a figure of fun, with his long grey ponytail, pirate-like jacket with garish gold embellishments and ruffled shirt. Measha complimented him on his “party in the back mullet.”

But Volodymyr astonished everyone by making candles appear from a handkerchief, and a rose and a small table float in mid-air.

“I kept looking for threads. I think you are actually a wizard,” said Martin.

What made it even more satisfying was how touched Volodymyr was by the three yeses he received, telling host Dina Pugliese backstage, “I almost crying.”

Here’s who else we saw in the first hour-long show:

Terry Im, a.k.a. KRNFX, 22, whose mostly improvised beat-boxing act had the audience grooving and clapping along, and rising to their feet. He got three yeses. “I have not seen the crowd this electric. This is the loudest it’s ever been: for you,” said Dina.

Project Dunk from Kitchener, which was guys using a trampoline to flip and dunk basketballs: three yeses.

Incline Lion Dance Troupe, who combined a traditional Chinese lion dance with some impressive feats of strength while the two men inside the lion balanced on discs on poles as one held the other aloft: another standing O and three yeses.

Pulp City Inn from Windsor, a band of high school rockers that also got people out of their seats.

Angela Ewtushik, 39, and Rally, 7, were another crowd pleaser as Rally the dog caught flying discs by jumping on, over and off Angela, spinning through her legs and generally delighting the judges and spectators. “I predict that Canada is going to fall in love with Rally as well,” said Stephan before three more easy yeses.

The Broken Dance troupe aimed to bring “the spirit of India” to Canada with a lively, cheeky Bollywood routine that brought another standing O and triple yeses. “You guys were exactly what I hoped we would find in Toronto,” said Measha.

Giorgio Longdo, 53, a.k.a. “Canada’s Mario Lanza” had the crowd covering their ears and calling for the red Xs, which they got. Martin joked, “There are so many songs that I’d love for you to sing. That’s a beautiful one, also ‘If I Were King of the Forest’ would be another one.” Giorgio was not amused, stalking off in a huff and refusing to speak to Dina.

The final contestant was the lovely Aygul Memet, 36, a Uighur circus performer who came to Canada from the restive Xinjiang region of China and didn’t see her husband and daughter for three years after her escape.

Not only could she expertly spin a hula hoop, she could do it with her leg behind her back; she could spin one on one foot while doing a handstand; she could spin five hoops at once on different parts of her body.

Everybody was standing for that one, judges and crowd.

“You are exactly what we search for in this competition, somebody who is clearly at the top of their field,” Measha told her.

The very sweet Aygul not only cried tears of joy at getting through to the next round but hugged crew members as she left the backstage area.

Make no mistake, this is a kind show. The judges aren’t afraid to say no, but don’t do it with malice or sarcasm (well, okay the Cowardly Lion reference that Martin made to Giorgio was a little sarcastic).

It also unabashedly puts its Canadianness front and centre. The opening credits, for instance, show Canadian landmarks. And Dina opened the show high above Toronto on the edge of the CN Tower.

But with our airwaves inundated with U.S. imports, there’s nothing wrong with a little Canadian pride.

The next episode, Monday at 7 p.m. on Citytv, takes us to the Calgary auditions.

You can check here for the recap and let me know how you enjoyed the show, by commenting here, on Twitter @realityeo or on my Facebook page.

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