Jake’s Take’s Top 25 Greatest ‘AGT’ Variety Acts of All-Time

Before AGT: The Champions-Season Two begins, here are my Top 25 Variety acts of all-time. (Photos and graphics property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com 

America’s Got Talent (AGT): The Champions is returning with its second installment on Monday, January 6. Heidi Klum is reuniting with Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel, and the group will welcome Alesha Dixon, one of Simon’s colleagues from Britain’s Got Talent, to the Judges’ Desk.

To commemorate this occasion, Jake’s Take is revealing the Top 25 Variety (acrobatic, comedy, dance, and magic) acts who are the show’s game-changers. Did your favorites cut? Read on to find out!

It took Taylor Williamson all of AGT: Season Eight to win over Heidi Klum. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#25-Taylor Williamson (Runner-Up of America’s Got Talent: Season Eight; America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Stand-up comedian)

Jake’s Take friend Taylor Williamson kicks off our countdown! Taylor’s personality might have borderline on awkward. Still, the San Diego native delivered incredible material that ranged from “child-appropriate jokes” to exposing his family’s dark secrets sent him to the Season Eight finale. Plus, I loved his love-hate relationship with Heidi Klum.

Sideswipe made the audiences of the AGT’s first two seasons sweat through their performances. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC, & Syco Television)

#24-Sideswipe (America’s Got Talent: Season One Participants & America’s Got Talent: Season Two Finalists; Martial Arts Dance Group) 

Before the Messoudi Brothers heated up AGT by performing shirtless, martial arts dance group Sideswipe began the trend of pulling a Magic Mike as they made former judges Brandy Norwood and Sharon Osbourne sweat. Despite being buzzed by former judge Piers Morgan, Sideswipe’s swift choreography and high kicks captured the hearts of America. 

The Miami All-Stars received numerous standing ovations from Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel during AGT’s sixth season. (Video property of FremantleMedia, NBC & Syco Entertainment)

#23-Miami All-Stars (America’s Got Talent: Season Six Finalists; Dance Group)

The Miami All-Stars were the first dance troupe to successfully bring ballroom dancing to AGT. Each and every round, this group of extraordinary dancers never failed to amaze me with their electrifying routines. I am surprised that this group has not been invited back to compete on Champions, because they dance their way to the finale.

Tape Face introduced AGT audiences to the theatre of the absurd with his hysterical antics. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC, & Syco Television)

#22-Tape Face (America’s Got Talent: Season 11 Finalist & America’s Got Talent: The Champions Participant; Mime)

Tape Face is one of my favorite comedic acts of all-time! This mischievous mime’s antics made the audience laugh. He also scored significant points with the fans as he brought Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Mel B for his skits.

Sofie Dossi took contortionism to a new level when she performed on AGT’s eleventh season. (VIdeo property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#21-Sofie Dossi (America’s Got Talent: Season 11 Finalist; Reba McEntire’s Golden Buzzer; America’s Got Talent: The Champions Participant; Aerialist & Contortionist) 

As many Jake’s Take readers know, I have had a massive issue with young performers under the age of 18-years-old auditioning for this show. However, America’s Got Talent: Season 11 finalist Sofie Dossi is an exception to this rule. I was truly blown away by Sofie’s stunts and showmanship throughout her time on AGT. Sofie has set the bar high for her generation of performers to reach an astonishing level of excellence on the show. 

AGT: Season 10 champion Paul Zerdin delivered epic routines that gave him the win! (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#20-Paul Zerdin (Winner of America’s Got Talent: Season 10; Marlon Wayans’ Golden Buzzer; America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Ventriloquist) 

Eight years after Terry Fator won the $1 million prize, another ventriloquist hoped to win the title of America’s Got Talent winner. Paul’s impeccable material, combined with his unique characters, Sam, Baby, and Albert, along with incorporating remote control masks, made him a leading contender to win the title. (Spoiler alert: Paul did win!) 

All throughout her AGT run, Vicki Barbolak incorporated her “Trailer Nasty’ lifestyle. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Entertainment)

#19-Vicki Barbolak (America’s Got Talent: Season 13 Finalist & America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Stand-Up Comedienne) 

Jake’s Take friend Vicki Barbolak introduced America to her unique brand of Trailer Nasty comedy on Season 13. Vicki had audiences at the palm of her hand with her material, such as visiting a men’s prison, her dating life, and boxed wine misadventures.

Viktor Kee elevated the art of juggling during AGT: Season 11. (Video property of Fremantle,NBC & Syco Television.)

#18-Viktor Kee (America’s Got Talent: Season 11 Finalist America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Juggler) 

Viktor Kee brought juggling to new heights in the early days of the Simon Cowell era. He illuminated the Dolby Theater with his showmanship. I also believe that the audience was left mesmerized with each round, and I cannot possibly think of another act that could pull off the stunts that Viktor successfully did during Season 11.

Colin Cloud elevated mentalism during his run on AGT: Season 12. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Entertainment)

#17-Colin Cloud (America’s Got Talent: Season 12 Semifinalist & America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Mentalist) 

Jake’s Take friend Colin Cloud made his AGT debut on Season 12 when he showcased his mentalism throughout the rounds. Colin incorporated the audience into his routines as he dug deep into Mel B’s mind and solved the ‘murder mystery’ of Simon Cowell

Piff the Magic Dragon’s comedic magic made audiences smile during AGT: Season 10. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#16-Piff the Magic Dragon (America’s Got Talent: Season 10 Finalist; Neil Patrick Harris’ Golden Buzzer; America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Comedic Magician) 

During AGT’s tenth anniversary season, fans were introduced to one of the most colorful characters to ever audition for the show. Piff, the Magic Dragon, combined humor and magic into an excellent combination that made audiences smiled. Plus, he has an adorable sidekick, Mr. Piffles, which made an incredible team.

Zurcaroh amazed the Dolby Theatre audience during AGT: Season 13. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#15-Zurcaroh (Runner-Ups of America’s Got Talent: Season 13; Tyra Banks’ Golden Buzzer; Acrobatic Group) 

What I love about Zurcaroh is that it united performers from 8 to 38, and they delivered these outstanding stunts. This group of phenomenal gymnasts and acrobats made their mark on the show every time they took the stage. I pray that this group is invited for America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ third season.

AGT: Season 10 Runner-Up Comedian Drew Lynch was a bright star during the show’s tenth anniversary season. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC, & Syco Television)

#14-Drew Lynch (Runner-Up of America’s Got Talent: Season 10; Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Stand-up comedian)

Drew Lynch was the first male comedian to capture my heart. He did not let his stuttering get the best of him, and he earned Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer after his emotional first audition. Throughout Drew’s run, he joked about his cat having Tourette’s syndrome, failing to pay his bills on time, and lacking conviction in his voice.

Mat Franco’s magic and storytelling abilities helped him win AGT: Season Nine! (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#13-Mat Franco (Winner of America’s Got Talent: Season Nine; Magician) 

Mat Franco is the first magician ever to win AGTMat was the second human variety act to win the show following Kenichi Ebina (more on him later) to win the series. Mat’s innate ability with close-up magic combined with his superb storytelling made him a fan-favorite since his Dolby Theatre audition. He captured the hearts of the nation when he performed on the Radio City Music hall stage and raised the bar for future magicians.

Siro-A brought their impeccable talents to AGT’s tenth anniversary season. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC, and Syco Television)

#12-Siro-A (America’s Got Talent: Season 10 Semifinalists; Piers Morgan’s Golden Buzzer; Video Projection Dance Group) 

Japanese video projection dance group Siro-A made a massive impact on AGT’s tenth anniversary season. This impeccable group combined dance and multimedia in ways that visually spellbound audiences. The group melted AGT’s legendary King of Mean, Piers Morgan’s heart so much that he gave them his Golden Buzzer. I hope Siro-A gets an invite to perform on a future installment of America’s Got Talent: The Champions soon! 

Malevo’s powerful Judge Cuts performance earned guest judge George Lopez’s Golden Buzzer during AGT’s eleventh season. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#11-Malevo (America’s Got Talent: Season 11 Semifinalists; George Lopez’s Golden Buzzer; Malambo Group)

The Malevo men traveled from Buenos Aires, Argentina to compete on Simon Cowell’s first season as a full-time judge. This group hoped to win the $1,000,000 prize to get their families out of poverty. These phenomenal men delivered fiery performances that took them all the way to Season 11 semifinals. With their impeccable choreography and explosive moves, Malevo set the standard for future dance acts.

AcroArmy’s heart-pounding routines brought both the AGT audience and judges to their feet. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#10-AcroArmy (Third Place Finalists of America’s Got Talent: Season Nine; Acrobatic Group) 

AcroArmy kicks off the Top 10 portion of our countdown. Two-time world champion gymnast Arthur Davis brought together a plethora of the country’s top acrobats to form an elite performance group. AcroArmy’s heart-pounding stunts and excellent showmanship wowed the judges and fans gave them a spot in the Season Nine finale. Without AcroArmy, similar groups like Diavolo and Zurcaroh would not have found success on this show. 

Grandma Lee was the first stand-up comedienne to make AGT fans laugh! (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#9-Grandma Lee (Finalist of America’s Got Talent: Season Four; Comedian) 

Grandma Lee was the first comedienne that made me laugh on America’s Got Talent. The Jacksonville, Florida resident’s material ranged from being cremated in Krispy Kreme to being “pregnant” with Piers Morgan’s baby; Grandma Lee blazed a trail to the Season Four finale. Every time, fan heard “Cut the crap!” audiences knew that Grandma Lee was going to deliver epic laughs.

Jake’s Take friend Oz Pearlman took his mentalism all the way to Radio City Music Hall. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#8-Oz Pearlman (Third Place Finalist of America’s Got Talent: Season 10 & America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season Two Participant; Mentalist) 

I am so happy that Jake’s Take friend Emmy-winning mentalist Oz Pearlman is competing on America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ sophomore season. The New York City-based mind reader blew audiences away with his mesmerizing performances. His talent took him to the Radio City Music Hall finale and shook up the show’s tenth anniversary season. 

Kenichi Ebina returned to America’s Got Talent (AGT): The Champions‘ first season to compete against the best Got Talent acts in the world. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#7-Kenichi Ebina (Winner of America’s Got Talent: Season Eight & America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participant; Dancer)

Self-taught dancer Kenichi Ebina left viewers spellbound with his choreography. Every time, he took on the Radio City Music Hall stage, Kenichi elevated his craft. Through taking a video game to The Matrix-esque finale performance, Kenichi’s creativity inspired the AGT audience.

All of Light Balance’s AGT performances blew fans away. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC, & Syco Entertainment)

#6-Light Balance (Third Place Finalists of America’s Got Talent: Season 12-Tyra Banks’ Golden Buzzer America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participants; Light Up Dance Troupe) 

Light Balance took elements that longtime AGT fans recognized in earlier acts Fighting Gravity and iLuminate (more on them later) but added storytelling elements to their show. The Ukrainian dance troupe’s performance electrified the Dolby Theatre audiences throughout the season and established a legacy that future acts must measure up to.

The Clairvoyants’ powerful mentalism cast a spell on the AGT audience. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#5-The Clairvoyants (Runners-Up of America’s Got Talent: Season 11 & America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One Participants; Mentalist Duo) 

I became an instant fan of Thommy Ten and Amelie van Tass after their Judges’ Auditions. The Clairvoyants blew fans and the audiences away with their excellent gifts of mentalism. Their showmanship and craft evolved with each round. 

Fighting Gravity was the first dance troupe on AGT that made audiences roar with delight. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Entertainment)

#4-Figthing Gravity (Third Place Finalists of America’s Got Talent: Season Five; Blacklight Dance Group) 

A group of Virginia Tech University students made a significant impact on the NBC talent competition show in 2010. While this group of students did not have any dance training or choreographer working with them, Fighting Gravity’s impressive routines entertained fans throughout the season and helped set the standard for creative dance troupes.

Team iLuminate captured the hearts of AGT fans with their unique combination of dance and technology. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#3-Team iLuminate (Third Place Finalists of America’s Got Talent: Season Six; Light-up Suit Dance Group) 

Before Light Balance charmed its way into the Got Talent franchise, this impeccable group of dancers showcased Miral Kotb’s brilliant iLuminate technology. Each round, Team iLuminate transported viewers through various worlds with their phenomenal performances. Despite placing in third, Team iLuminate inspired many AGT fans and will entertain Vegas audiences starting in March. 

Shin Lim’s exquisite close-up magic won him two AGT series. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC & Syco Television)

#2-Shin Lim (Winner of America’s Got Talent: Season 13 & America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One; Close-up magician) 

Of all of the magicians that have appeared on AGT, Shin Lim’s magic left me speechless. His close-up magic left viewers, the judges, and former host Tyra Banks spellbound. Through his performances on Season 13 and America’s Got Talent: The Champions-Season One, Shin raised the standard for every magic act that stepped onto the America’s Got Talent stage.

Ever since Terry Fator won AGT’s sophomore season, the ventriloquist has become the show’s most successful act. (Video property of Fremantle, NBC, and Syco Television)

#1-Terry Fator (Winner of America’s Got Talent: Season Two; Ventriloquist) 

Terry Fator is probably the most excellent winner in AGT’s history! When he first auditioned with Emma Taylor at the Chicago auditions, everyone, including judge David Hasselhoff, who whispered: “Oh No! A Ventriloquist” to his fellow judges Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne written him off. However, history was made once Emma sang Etta James’ “At Last.” Quickly, Terry and company won over the judges and the audience. After he was crowned the Season Two winner, he became an established headlining performer at the Mirage Las Vegas, which he celebrated his tenth anniversary performing on the Las Vegas Strip. Terry also continues to entertain audiences across the country with Emma, Winston, the Impersonating Turtle, Julius, Walter T. Airdale, Hyphen, and other cast members. 

If you are into the performing arts, make sure you check out my Top 26 AGT music acts countdown that I did last year to commemorate America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ inaugural season.

Comments

  1. Diane Evans says

    Great write up Jake!
    My ultimate favorite is comedian Vicki Barbolak! She is the funniest person on Earth!

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