#1: Mary Ellen (Season 5)
Some of these last entries on the list were so horrible that the judges actually had to proverbially invent things that they had done right by including acts that were such monumental screw-ups that they failed to do things that should have come standard.
If the judges ever succeed at finding something worse than Mary Ellen and are permitted to put it in the Top 48, America’s Got Talent will not survive it.
As was said before of Carol Lugo, the judges, by including Mary Ellen, invented two reasons to compliment her.
The first was that Lugo at least varied the way in which her act was terrible. Mary Ellen, in contrast, was exactly the same every single time.
Mary Ellen performed three times on America’s Got Talent, and all three times, she performed the exact same song. . .
If you can even call it a song. Her lyrics were always, always completely unintelligible. Likewise, it was pretty clear that she wasn’t really playing the keyboard — she was just hitting the keys randomly.
By her own admission, Mary Ellen had only previously “performed” by herself. She was so bad that even her immediate family evidently could not tolerate it.
But in spite of this, it always sounded the same. In spite of her singing and instrumental work being to music what shooting human excrement out of a cannon at a canvas would be to art, it always produced the exact same product.
So there was no “You never know what she’s going to do next!” excuse with Mary Ellen. You always knew what she was going to do next.
But what single-handedly, and irreversibly, condemned Howie Mandel’s credibility as a judge, if not any tolerance for him in the future as a human being, was that Mary Ellen had no concept of time.
Mary Ellen demonstrated, twice in a row, that she was incapable of sticking to a time limit. In fact, during Vegas Week, Mary Ellen went ten minutes over the time limit.
All while performing the exact same song.
During a quarterfinal week that all of the judges acknowledged was the toughest of the lot, the only hopes the judges had for Mary Ellen was that she would actually wrap up her performance for herself for once.
She did not. Instead, she did exactly what she did the last two times they had seen her. What a surprise.
Many of the acts listed before now were completely irredeemable. But Mary Ellen was so phenomenally bad that all of the acts before her can now boast having done some things right that she failed to do.
These were all things that should have come standard. Having actual lyrics, planning ahead, singing coherently, playing an actual tune, and adhering to the time limit — none of these should be viewed as major accomplishments by an AGT contestant. They should be expected of everyone.
But Mary Ellen couldn’t even do any of that. She was completely irredeemable even by the lowest of standards possible.
But the judges put her on the AGT stage anyway.
I looked back, literally, at every single act that has ever performed live on any season of America’s Got Talent, and there are only three things that Mary Ellen could potentially argue she did right which not every other contestant may claim in turn:
- She didn’t fall off the stage (ZOOperstars).
- She didn’t spontaneously take her clothes off (Chipps Cooney)
- She didn’t empty her bladder (Echo of Animal Gardens, Rhinestone Ropers and Gabe Rocks).
And yet even those few acts who are guilty of having done any of the above did not do so until after their live show inclusion.
Mary Ellen, on the other hand, was completely irredeemable right from the start. This wasn’t unanticipated — wasn’t a letdown or a turn for the worst. The judges knew exactly what they were getting when they put her in their Top 48 for Season 5.
The judges will be very hard pressed to possibly find something worse than Mary Ellen. But if the most recent season is any indication, you can bet they will be up to the challenge again for Season 8.