Hump Day brings us the final battle round and then the championships for the world’s best attention wh*res, if you leave out Demi and Onyeka from last night’s Bachelor special, The Women Tell All. Their outfits were also skimpier than any of the Solo Variety acts on TWB.
Tonight, the family rock group Liliac Band will go up against Christian warbler Vonnie Lopez, who appears with the High Praise Choir. I guess the Lord preferred her to the singing nun who got dumped in a previous episode. I’m kind of down on the Catholic Church these days, too.
We’ll see what other acts are performing when the show opens, since three full minutes of Googling didn’t tell me. I just wish we could see the Hypno-Dog again.
Group Variety is first. It’s Shaolin Yanze Kung Fu against Duo Nigretai, the hang-by-their-hair pair. The kung fu guys are wearing elegant, one-shouldered white ensembles previously seen on Jessica Chastain at the 2017 Oscars ceremony. They accessorize with bold drawn-on eyebrows that resemble Sluggo’s from the Nancy comic strip. There’s a lot of jumping and screaming with these guys, as well as the brandishing of a spear. Bob Fosse would admire their choreography. It’s All That Jazzercise.
Drew now joins the group for a personal demo of their skills. She is asked to tuck her hair into her dress, then one of the guys comes up behind her with a sharp-looking pole and stabs the air rapidly on either side of her neck. That happened to me once on the G train platform.
Duo Nigretai does aerial acrobatics, otherwise known by their moms as STOP THAT, YOU’RE SCARING ME! You have to wonder if the woman has to get her roots done more than once every six weeks. The man grabs the hook attached to her bun in his teeth, and they spin around above the stage for a while. As freaky as it is, it’s kind of a repetitive act, like me trying to parallel park.
Now to the votes. Both groups get an average 43 from the Americans, so it’s on the world to choose. It’s a tight race, but Shaolin Yanze ultimately pulls ahead. Duo appears deeply disappointed. They’ll go get drunk and hang from their hair in their hotel room.
Next is the Group Music category, with Lilac against Vonnie Lopez. The band of five siblings practices in between homework and chores, like The Partridge Family, but with a less attractive Keith. They’re competing to win the million dollar prize so they can pay their Tresemme bills.
The Heavenly Voice, as Vonnie Lopez is called by anyone who hasn’t heard their accountant tell them they’re getting a tax refund this year, performs with the High Praise Choir and low expectations. She was born tone-deaf, she informs us from her home in the sticks, and claims to have been “healed” in an instant by the grace of God. I wonder if her insurance had denied her coverage for a pre-existing condition.
Surprising no one, Vonnie sings Amazing Grace. Her voice isn’t that great, so maybe she qualified for the show by being the world’s best religious fanatic. Faith is near tears at the performance, Drew thinks it profound, while Ru says “amen.” Pass the collection plate.
Scoring commences. Ru, Drew, and Faith give Liliac 43, while Jesus carries Vonnie to a solid 47. Will the world reward Californian rocker kids who dress in black and whip their hair around like they’re possessed by Amdusias, or the demure, humble church lady in a modest dress from Chili’s? It turns out God prefers acts without a bass player.
Now for the championships. Solo Variety acts are up first, starting with Justin Flom, the Card Trick Boychik. He brings Corden on stage to help with his trick, rolling up the host’s sleeve and laying a cloth on the floor. He then swabs Corden’s bare arm with alcohol before asking him to swallow a length of thin string. Moments later, Justin appears to be pulling the same length of string—a stretch since he could’t have Corden write his name on it first—from an apparent bleeding puncture wound he made in his victim’s arm. The actual trick was that Corden swallowed a long piece of bobbin thread without choking. Now I’ll worry that it could get twisted around his colon.
Now for Li Wei, the slack wire guy. His shiny colorful catsuit should win all on its own. He leaps and rolls on the bouncy wire with dexterity, even adding in a bit where he clings to a little ladder balanced on the thing, but this is another act with a brief life span, especially if Li Wei ever falls off.
Next is Nina Conti. She doesn’t stand a chance unless she’s brought one of those robot sex dolls from Japan. After chatting with the audience through her mangy monkey puppet, which bores everyone except any chimps watching at home, she pulls out her creepy lower-face masks with the remote-controlled mouths. Those contraptions seem like something a serial killer would strap on his victims to make them say they love him.
The lowest American panel score sends one performer home first before the Wall weighs in. It’s Li Wei, who can’t believe he lost to a woman who can’t choose a flattering blouse. Now it’s down to Justin Flom, who gets 42 from the American judges, and Nina Conti, who gets 45. After the world votes, she becomes Solo Variety Champion and moves on to the finale. What the hell? Maybe Justin can sneak backstage and strangle Monkey with the rest of his string.
Now for the Group Music Championship. The TNT Boys are opposing Naturally 7 and Vonnie Lopez, which may be a tough call for all the people delighted by three tiny boys in matching suits.
N7 does a lovely job in a heartfelt tribute to their late manager and friend. I hope none of the TNT Boys has had to flush a goldfish recently.
Vonnie shows up with yet another turgid Christian tune and her white-clad choir. The only thing that’s dead for her is her fashion sense. If she wins, I’ll object more vociferously than R. Kelly being interviewed by Gayle King.
Here come the TNT Boys, like three mini-action figures neatly displayed on the toy shelf at Target. They do have a nice harmony going, and hug each other when the song is done.
Time to learn the scores, and finally put an end to this misery. In third place is Vonnie. Apparently, God didn’t keep his eye on that sparrow. Everyone groans at having to choose between the adorable boys in their cobalt blue jackets, and the smooth, sonorous men. Thank goodness Michael Jackson isn’t a judge.
N7 gets an average of 43 from the Americans, with 49 for the boys. What will the world do? We endure the manufactured tension as the scores slowly add up before us, offering dueling figures on the screen. Naturally 7 grabs the prize. It’s only fair, as the TNT Boys haven’t even seen an R-rated movie yet. They have time.