The latest episode of America’s Got Talent had social media buzzing, with many fans directing their disappointment at judge Howie Mandel’s comments about the Improv Everywhere group.
The scene began when an individual took center stage, claiming to be performing a piano act. However, as he began, the audience’s enthusiasm plummeted.
Boos echoed through the venue, and Howie, at 67, promptly hit his buzzer to signal his disinterest.
But then, in a theatrical twist, various audience members rose to join the performance, revealing a flash mob act characteristic of Improv Everywhere’s signature surprises. The stunt was a hit with most of the panel, but Howie remained unimpressed.
Facing the judges, the group learned from Howie: “So you have two ‘yes’ votes, and you need three to move on.” Howie continued: “I have to be honest. It feels more like a party gag. What could you do next? You couldn’t surprise us.”
Despite coaxing from his co-judges, Howie remained firm. “OK, I’m going to surprise you. I’m going to say no.” This declaration was met with loud disapproval from both the audience and Howie’s peers on the judging panel.
The controversy didn’t end in the studio; social media was ablaze with criticism. Fans weighed in with comments like: “Howie with a totally distasteful move,” and “Howie, that was unnecessarily rude!” with another remarking: “Seriously, Sofia and Howie? Improv Everywhere was exciting! SHAME ON YOU!”
But Howie wasn’t the only one under scrutiny. Fellow judges Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara also faced backlash from a prior episode, where they seemingly exerted pressure on ukulele artist Sunny Chatum.
The palpable tension between the judges and Sunny had many viewers questioning the judges’ tactics and sensitivity.
When Sunny hesitated, Heidi threatened to hit the buzzer, and at one point, shouted, “Start singing!” Soon after, Sunny tried to calm his nerves and tune his instrument, but a short pause led Heidi to strike the buzzer, cutting off his chance to perform.
The incident had fans of the show expressing their concerns. Comments ranged from calling out Heidi’s perceived insensitivity to questioning the genuine intent of the episode.
“I did not find this funny. It seemed offensive to those with neurological disabilities,” one viewer remarked.