"America's Got Talent" has brought a stun-gun juggler, a guy who takes a hammer to the groin and whatever a one-man pancreas is to the small screen in seasons past. So when judge Howie Mandel vows that the upcoming season is the craziest yet, that's one heck of a promise.
"This year, the bar has been raised," the veteran "AGT" panelist announced during a visit to TODAY Monday morning. "It's the most outrageous year ever."
He'll even join in on some of the outrageous behavior, stripping off his top for a team of shirtless dancers on an upcoming episode.
"You know, sometimes you do things and you don't think about it," Mandel said of the moment. "The truth is, had I thought about, I wouldn't have done it. And had I known you were going to play it over and over again, I wouldn't have done it."
Good thing he didn't know!
Of course, the main focus of the season will remain on the new talent, which will include "the craziest acts, the most amazing acts, the youngest and oldest people we've ever had on the show," he boasted. "We have an 8-year-old knife thrower who is throwing knives at his 6-year-old sister."
TODAY anchor Matt Lauer noted that that kind of behavior is discouraged in his household, and Mandel said it was the same it his home, but "on 'America's Got Talent,' nothing is discouraged. There are no rules."
In addition to being dangerous, that blade-filled act is sure to be memorable. In fact, Mandel said "more than one" act is destined to be a household name this time around.
"We say this every year — that the talent just keeps getting better — but there are a few names that you're going to know," he assured.
And this year, the judges don't have to agree about which ones that will be. During the auditions, each judge gets a golden buzzer, which they can use once to carry a performer into the competition. But there's one kind of act that shouldn't hold out any hope for a buzz from Mandel: mimes.
"I hate mimes because you can't talk to those people ... (and) they're always in trouble. It's a negative," he complained. "They're trapped in a box; it's too windy; they've got to go downstairs; the rope. They just don't have a good time."
As for his favorite type of performer, he simply said it's one that offers something "I haven't seen before."
And now TODAY viewers have the chance to show him something new.
"This is the biggest talent show in the world, and 48 (acts) get to go to live shows at the iconic Radio City Music Hall," Mandel explained. "Us judges have only picked 47. So there's one slot left to go directly to the live shows."
Season nine of "America's Got Talent" kicks off Tuesday night at 8 on NBC.
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