You know an act on America's Got Talent is bad when even Simon Cowell recoils in horror.
Throughout this summer, one group on NBC's popular competition series has simultaneously fascinated and disgusted the judges - particularly Cowell, the reality show veteran who has seen it all.
"It's the most stupid act we have ever had on the finals of AGT," Cowell sneered Tuesday night, when 12 performers competed for a spot in the upcoming semifinals.
What is it, you ask? Well - the act is called Human Fountains. Because it's five guys who spit water in creative ways, usually into one another's mouths. Yet that doesn't even fully capture the grossness of what they do.
During Wednesday night's results show, the group was finally eliminated. But it had been quite a journey. On the America's Got Talent Season 13 premiere in May, the members of Human Fountains explained they were longtime friends from Denver who once wowed their classmates with a really great performance in their high school talent show. And while they may have boring day jobs now, they wanted to get the group back together to recapture their glory days - and get a shot at the $1 million AGT prize.
As the judges (Cowell, Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum) waited expectantly, Il Divo's cover of My Heart Will Go On started playing. And the guys became a group of. . . human fountains, spitting water over one another; at one another; and into one another's mouths. For the grand finale, one guy proudly swallowed the water.
The studio audience went crazy. About 30 seconds into the performance, a queasy-looking Cowell immediately pressed the red "X," signaling he was not impressed. The other judges loved it.
"There is nowhere in the entire world you would see this apart from on this stage," Mel B gushed. "It was original. It was funny. Simon doesn't get it at all! It was absolutely brilliant."
"I kind of want to see what else you guys can do," Klum admitted.
"It was amazing," Mandel chimed in.
"It wasn't amazing," Cowell said scornfully. "It was just stupid."
But the three "yes" votes meant that the act was through to the next round.
The synchronised spitters returned in July for the "Judge Cuts" round. The guys further explained their origin story from back in high school: "We were like, 'People travel around the world and go see famous fountains. So why not create one out of humans?'"
This time, they raised the stakes by spitting not only water but raw egg and orange juice. The audience screamed, especially at the egg. The camera took great fun in capturing the shock on everyone's faces, particularly guest judge Olivia Munn.
"You guys are my personal nightmare," said Mandel, a known germaphobe. "But you did exactly what we asked you to do. And I think there's only one stage to celebrate something like that, and that is AGT. "
Although the judges were clearly proud that AGT offers a platform for people spitting raw eggs into one another's mouths, they wound up eliminating the group at the end of the episode.
Except! Those savvy AGT producers couldn't let the Human Fountains go just yet, so they invited the act back as a "wildcard" on Tuesday's quarterfinal round. On social media, some vented about this selection. Probably because they were forced to view the performance that involved the guys spitting ketchup and mustard on a hot dog. Just try to guess how it ends.
Once again, Cowell was horrified. "How the hell am I supposed to comment on what I just saw?" he asked.
Klum was a bit nicer. "I mean, it's kind of disgusting. But I kind of liked it," she offered.
Yet on Wednesday night, it was up to viewers - and they chose not to advance the group. Human Fountains was finally, officially gone, and Cowell dramatically offered a prayer to up above.
The guys of Human Fountains seemed disappointed. Something tells us they'll be fine. After all, they said, they just want to make everyone laugh.
"Some people love it, some people are completely grossed out. For us, we're happy with any reaction, because it's a comedy act and everyone has different reactions to the different comedy acts they like," group member Sam Kaufman told People magazine. "There's enough seriousness in most Americans' lives, so we're giving them a little break."