America’s Got Talent: The Champions: Simon Cowell raves over 11-year-old Alexa Lauenberger’s dog act

Simon Cowell gave his imaginary Golden Buzzer to eleven-year-old Alexa Lauenberger on Monday’s semifinals episode of America’s Got Talent: The Champions.

Calling it ‘the best dog act I’ve seen by a mile,’ noted dog lover Simon, 60, was thoroughly charmed by Alexa and her eight pups, who won Germany’s Got Talent in 2017.

The team was one of six acts to go through on the episode ahead of next Monday’s finals.

Dog act: Simon Cowell gave his imaginary Golden Buzzer to eleven-year-old Alexa Lauenberger on Monday’s semifinals episode of America’s Got Talent: The Champions

Happy: Calling it 'the best dog act I've seen by a mile,' noted dog lover Simon, 60, was thoroughly charmed by Alexa and her eight pups, who won Germany's Got Talent in 2017

Happy: Calling it ‘the best dog act I’ve seen by a mile,’ noted dog lover Simon, 60, was thoroughly charmed by Alexa and her eight pups, who won Germany’s Got Talent in 2017

On a set reminiscent of the 1988 film Beetlejuice, Alexa got her pups dancing to Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song, and the moves they did astounded the audience. The dogs hung off of the equipment onstage, jumped over hurdles on two feet, formed a conga line, made another hurdle for small dogs, and leapt and rolled at their owner’s command.

Offstage, I’m very shy,’ Alexa said in a video package before she went on, though she has previously affirmed she felt she could win. ‘My dogs bring me out of my shell.’

‘If there was one golden buzzer we were all allowed to push tonight, I think we would all be reaching for that right now,’ Simon told her afterward, grinning with delight.

Out of her shell: Offstage, I¿m very shy,¿ Alexa said in a video package before she went on, though she has previously affirmed she felt she could win. ¿My dogs bring me out of my shell'

Out of her shell: Offstage, I’m very shy,’ Alexa said in a video package before she went on, though she has previously affirmed she felt she could win. ‘My dogs bring me out of my shell’

‘Two words describe your act, and that is ‘pure joy,’ agreed judge Howie Mandel, 64.

Alexa and her dogs were voted through by AGT superfans, along with four other acts: Marcelito Pomoy, 35; violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa, 12; fake German cabaret star Hans, aka Australian Matt Gilbertson, 34; and acrobats Sandou Trio Russian Bar.

For the sixth act, the judges voted through Duo Transcend, aerial acrobats from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Transcend: For the sixth act, the judges voted through Duo Transcend, aerial acrobats from Salt Lake City, Utah

Transcend: For the sixth act, the judges voted through Duo Transcend, aerial acrobats from Salt Lake City, Utah

Simon laid out what he was looking for right from the top of the show, saying: ‘I think you’ve got to be better than your first round. For me, one word: Progression.’

He and all the other judges loved seven-year-old Australian comedian JJ Pantano, who took potshots at all of them to thunderous applause.

JJ pointed out that judge Heidi Klum, 46, kept dating younger men as she got older, adding, ‘So I was thinking: Maybe in another 10 years? No promises. You might be too old for me by then.’

JJ on stage: He and all the other judges loved seven-year-old Australian comedian JJ Pantano, who took potshots at all of them to thunderous applause

JJ on stage: He and all the other judges loved seven-year-old Australian comedian JJ Pantano, who took potshots at all of them to thunderous applause

Younger men: JJ pointed out that judge Heidi Klum, 46, kept dating younger men as she got older, adding, 'So I was thinking: Maybe in another 10 years? No promises. You might be too old for me by then'

Younger men: JJ pointed out that judge Heidi Klum, 46, kept dating younger men as she got older, adding, ‘So I was thinking: Maybe in another 10 years? No promises. You might be too old for me by then’

He cracked that Howie had ‘discovered’ Meghan Markle as an extra on his show Deal or No Deal, ‘and sent her off to be a princess—and in return, America’s got Alesha Dixon.’

‘Alesha, last time I was here, I got you confused with Alicia Keys,’ JJ told the 41-year-old judge. ‘So I’d like to take this time to apologize. To Alicia Keys.’

He saved his best crack for Simon, saying: ‘Simon, I heard you want to be cryogenically frozen when you die… looking at your face now, I think you’ve started the process already.’

Howie: He cracked that Howie had 'discovered' Meghan Markle as an extra on his show Deal or No Deal, 'and sent her off to be a princess¿and in return, America's got Alesha Dixon'

Howie: He cracked that Howie had ‘discovered’ Meghan Markle as an extra on his show Deal or No Deal, ‘and sent her off to be a princess—and in return, America’s got Alesha Dixon’

‘You, honestly, are absolutely hilarious,’ Simon observed, later telling his fellow judges he no longer wanted to be cryogenically frozen, as he realized that it meant he would lose his head.

And if he kept it after all? ‘I’d be about 100,’ he moaned.

Violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa, 12, made a heady impression with his version of Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World, accompanied by a singer.

Hilarious: 'You, honestly, are absolutely hilarious,' Simon observed, later telling his fellow judges he no longer wanted to be cryogenically frozen, as he realized that it meant he would lose his head

Hilarious: ‘You, honestly, are absolutely hilarious,’ Simon observed, later telling his fellow judges he no longer wanted to be cryogenically frozen, as he realized that it meant he would lose his head

‘Going through cancer changes the way you see things,’ offered Tyler, who is in remission from leukemia. ‘I’m grateful for having life, and having music to express my feelings.’

Simon rose to his feet before Tyler finished the song, and advised him to play solo next time.

‘I would just have you playing the most beautiful song, with that beautiful instrument, with that beautiful smile of yours, and then you could actually win the show this year, Tyler,’ he said.

Violinist: 'Going through cancer changes the way you see things,' offered Tyler, who is in remission from leukemia. 'I'm grateful for having life, and having music to express my feelings'

Violinist: ‘Going through cancer changes the way you see things,’ offered Tyler, who is in remission from leukemia. ‘I’m grateful for having life, and having music to express my feelings’

Tyler: 'I would just have you playing the most beautiful song, with that beautiful instrument, with that beautiful smile of yours, and then you could actually win the show this year, Tyler,' he said

Tyler: ‘I would just have you playing the most beautiful song, with that beautiful instrument, with that beautiful smile of yours, and then you could actually win the show this year, Tyler,’ he said

British magician Marc Spellman, 47, who performed as ‘X,’ invited show host Terry Crews, 51, onstage and blindfolded him.

He asked Terry to imagine a watch in his mind, set to a particular time, which was 4 pm. X then revealed that a box he’d given Heidi earlier was set to that exact time.

When he asked Terry where he’d like to be if he could go anywhere in the world, Terry said he’d like to be ‘at home,’ then turned around to see a video of his wife in their house.

Terry: He asked Terry to imagine a watch in his mind, set to a particular time, which was 4 pm. X then revealed that a box he'd given Heidi earlier was set to that exact time

Terry: He asked Terry to imagine a watch in his mind, set to a particular time, which was 4 pm. X then revealed that a box he’d given Heidi earlier was set to that exact time

Heidi was underwhelmed by X’s performance, but Alesha called him ‘consistently brilliant.’

Crowd favorite Hans returned with another hilarious act, singing and doing splits to Ariana Grande’s Bang Bang, and tweaking the lyrics to ‘You need a German to blow your mind.’ 

The bald performer had previously been criticized by Simon, who said there was ‘no way to make the performance worse,’ with which many viewers had agreed.

Crowd favorite: Crowd favorite Hans returned with another hilarious act, singing and doing splits to Ariana Grande's Bang Bang, and tweaking the lyrics to 'You need a German to blow your mind'

Crowd favorite: Crowd favorite Hans returned with another hilarious act, singing and doing splits to Ariana Grande’s Bang Bang, and tweaking the lyrics to ‘You need a German to blow your mind’

‘Guess what?’ Hans cracked before he went on. ‘I’m about to prove him wrong. It’s not about redemption. It’s about revenge.’

‘As Lady Gaga once said, ‘There can be 99 people in the room, and all it takes is one dummkopf with a red buzzer.’

This time, even Simon loved his act, saying, ‘I shouldn’t have loved that, but I did love it.’

Simon loved it: This time, even Simon loved his act, saying, 'I shouldn't have loved that, but I did love it'

Simon loved it: This time, even Simon loved his act, saying, ‘I shouldn’t have loved that, but I did love it’

Venezuelan magician Dania Diaz, 29, sought to make her work meaningful to the audience, and her act reflected on the loss of her mother when she was 10.

‘It was hard growing up without her,’ recalled Dania. ‘Thankfully, I found magic.’

The magician rapidly linked and unlinked playing cards as she told a story about personal connections, then had Alesha pick a card that she unearthed in a later deck.

Magician: Venezuelan magician Dania Diaz, 29, sought to make her work meaningful to the audience, and her act reflected on the loss of her mother when she was 10

Magician: Venezuelan magician Dania Diaz, 29, sought to make her work meaningful to the audience, and her act reflected on the loss of her mother when she was 10

The real wow came when she showed the judges a selfie they’d all taken at the start of her act, and Alesha was holding the same card.

‘It was magic, literally three feet from where we stood,’ Simon marveled. ‘There was no denying that.’

Cameroonian dancer and contortionist Strauss Serpent, 23, was as mesmerizing as ever, bending his body into horrifyingly unusual shapes that had the judges cringing.

Magic: The real wow came when she showed the judges a selfie they'd all taken at the start of her act, and Alesha was holding the same card

Magic: The real wow came when she showed the judges a selfie they’d all taken at the start of her act, and Alesha was holding the same card

He entered the stage in a box, unfurling his limbs to get out of it, then walked right up to the judges’ table and yanked his limbs into a pretzel shape so aggressively they made noise.

Strauss turned his entire face around, made a stack of diamond shapes with his arms, and even stuck his whole body into a bucket, making the audience scream.

‘Every single thing about that was brilliant,’ Alesha said. ‘It was funny and painful to watch, all at the same time.’

Entrance: He entered the stage in a box, unfurling his limbs to get out of it, then walked right up to the judges' table and yanked his limbs into a pretzel shape so aggressively they made noise

Entrance: He entered the stage in a box, unfurling his limbs to get out of it, then walked right up to the judges’ table and yanked his limbs into a pretzel shape so aggressively they made noise

Strauss: Cameroonian dancer and contortionist Strauss Serpent, 23, was as mesmerizing as ever, bending his body into horrifyingly unusual shapes that had the judges cringing

Strauss: Cameroonian dancer and contortionist Strauss Serpent, 23, was as mesmerizing as ever, bending his body into horrifyingly unusual shapes that had the judges cringing

After he got off the stage, Heidi got into the box, too, calling it ‘no biggie.’

Comedian Ryan Niemiller, 37, from Demotte, Indiana, arrived onstage to the strains of En Vogue’s What A Man, accompanied by dancers.

Ryan, who’d struggled before going on AGT last season, had been booked out through the next year because of his fame—a big departure from his previous occasional stand-up gigs.

Comedian: Comedian Ryan Niemiller, 37, from Demotte, Indiana, arrived onstage to the strains of En Vogue's What A Man, accompanied by dancers

Comedian: Comedian Ryan Niemiller, 37, from Demotte, Indiana, arrived onstage to the strains of En Vogue’s What A Man, accompanied by dancers

‘Hotel life is amazing,’ he crowed, determined to keep going and win the show.

As usual, Ryan’s jokes poked fun at a birth defect that had left him with severely shortened arms, and he called himself ‘the worst afterschool special you’ve ever seen.’

He recalled how his mom would put tube socks on his arms to keep him warm in winter, since he couldn’t wear gloves, pointing out that they were ‘frostbite traps.’

Jokes: As usual, Ryan's jokes poked fun at a birth defect that had left him with severely shortened arms, and he called himself 'the worst afterschool special you've ever seen'

Jokes: As usual, Ryan’s jokes poked fun at a birth defect that had left him with severely shortened arms, and he called himself ‘the worst afterschool special you’ve ever seen’

‘You didn’t get those socks from under my bed, did you?’ he pretended to ask her, then addressed the crowd: ‘Easy, easy, we grew up poor. I didn’t have a bed.’

Unfortunately, the judges opined that it didn’t feel as fresh as the last time he performed.

They were won over instead by Sandou Trio Russian Bar, whose lead performer, Cassie Sandou, performed terrifying flips over a tiny plank that was lit on fire, and placed over a bed of fire.

Trio: They were won over instead by Sandou Trio Russian Bar, whose lead performer, Cassie Sandou, performed terrifying flips over a tiny plank that was lit on fire, and placed over a bed of fire

Trio: They were won over instead by Sandou Trio Russian Bar, whose lead performer, Cassie Sandou, performed terrifying flips over a tiny plank that was lit on fire, and placed over a bed of fire

‘Every time I perform on the bar, I think about the fact that we have two beautiful kids that we’re raising, and if something does go wrong, it could end my life,’ Cassie said.

‘I mean, are you kidding me with this?’ Heidi cried when they finished. ‘You are incredible.’

Singer Marcelito, who won Phillipines Got Talent in 2011, blew the crowd away by performing as Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman for their song Time to Say Goodbye.

Kids: 'Every time I perform on the bar, I think about the fact that we have two beautiful kids that we're raising, and if something does go wrong, it could end my life,' Cassie said

Kids: ‘Every time I perform on the bar, I think about the fact that we have two beautiful kids that we’re raising, and if something does go wrong, it could end my life,’ Cassie said

Winning would mean that he could support his family, said Marcelino, whom Simon called ‘the nicest guy,’ and Heidi said was ‘my favorite.’

‘Marcelino was orphaned, living on the street with no one to take care of him,’ his wife Joan pointed out. ‘But being on the stage like a champion? Now the world can see what I see.’

‘Absolutely brilliant song choice,’ Alesha shared. ‘It really enabled you to shine.’

Family: Winning would mean that he could support his family, said Marcelino, whom Simon called 'the nicest guy,' and Heidi said was 'my favorite'

Family: Winning would mean that he could support his family, said Marcelino, whom Simon called ‘the nicest guy,’ and Heidi said was ‘my favorite’

Orphaned: 'Marcelino was orphaned, living on the street with no one to take care of him,' his wife Joan pointed out. 'But being on the stage like a champion? Now the world can see what I see'

Orphaned: ‘Marcelino was orphaned, living on the street with no one to take care of him,’ his wife Joan pointed out. ‘But being on the stage like a champion? Now the world can see what I see’

Two groups with similar acts made the judges face a hard decision at the show’s end.

Acrobats Duo Destiny put on a spellbinding dance to Bishop Briggs’ Never Tear Us Apart, using brute strength to bend and lift each other into impossible positions.

‘Tonight we are putting everything on the line,’ said the female half of the duo, who repeatedly made the audience gasp as she dropped down from great heights into her husband’s arms.

Destiny dance: Acrobats Duo Destiny put on a spellbinding dance to Bishop Briggs' Never Tear Us Apart, using brute strength to bend and lift each other into impossible positions

Destiny dance: Acrobats Duo Destiny put on a spellbinding dance to Bishop Briggs’ Never Tear Us Apart, using brute strength to bend and lift each other into impossible positions

Their competitors, aerial acrobats Duo Transcend, were aware that they had to stand out, and delivered a startling circus-themed set to Panic at the Disco’s The Greatest Show.

They opened with incredible flips onstage, swinging aggressively off each others’ bodies.

On an even tinier stage, the husband then roller skated around in circles blindfolded while yoked to his wife, who simultaneously spun in circles from his neck.

Finals: Duo Transcend were picked by Heidi, Simon and Alesha to head into the finals

Finals: Duo Transcend were picked by Heidi, Simon and Alesha to head into the finals

‘I couldn’t take my eyes off you,’ Alesha told them afterward. ‘Well done.’

Duo Transcend were picked by Heidi, Simon and Alesha to head into the finals.

America’s Got Talent: The Champions airs its finals next Monday on NBC.

On stage: On an even tinier stage, the husband then roller skated around in circles blindfolded while yoked to his wife, who simultaneously spun in circles from his neck

On stage: On an even tinier stage, the husband then roller skated around in circles blindfolded while yoked to his wife, who simultaneously spun in circles from his neck

Finals: America's Got Talent: The Champions airs its finals next Monday on NBC

Finals: America’s Got Talent: The Champions airs its finals next Monday on NBC

 

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