When all was said and done, this year’s winner of America’s Got Talent wasn’t a man who can upchuck goldfish and thumbtacks, a guy who can apparently read minds, or a young comedian whose stuttering jokes had everyone in stitches.
Instead, the finale crowned a surprise winner: ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. The announcement came as a shock to the studio audience, who kind of ruined Zerdin’s moment by booing the result. He was the second puppet master ever to win the competition.
If it’s any consolation to fans of Drew Lynch — the comic with a speech impediment — Paul only won by a margin of less than 1 percent, the New York Daily News reported. Zerdin has earned himself a nice $1 million check and a spot in Las Vegas.
Nonetheless, plenty of people were convinced that Lynch and the Professional Regurgitator (aka Scotsman Stevie Starr) would be the last two standing in the end.
— America's Got Talent (@nbcagt) September 17, 2015
Strength doesn't come from getting knocked down. It comes from getting back up.
— Drew Lynch (@TheDrewLynch) September 17, 2015
Thank you all, this has been an absolutely incredible journey https://t.co/Ite0NbrQRU
— Oz Pearlman (@OzTheMentalist) September 17, 2015
The America’s Got Talent finale was packed with plenty of entertainment from special guests and contestants alike. Lynch and fellow comedian Gary Vider received a roasting lesson from Jeff Ross. The Regurgitator seemed to shock magicians Penn and Teller during their joint performance, when Mr. Starr brought back a goldfish tucked away in a film canister.
It was also heavy on tributes, Entertainment Weekly added: one to host Nick Cannon and another to outgoing judge Howard Stern; the finale was his last episode of America’s Got Talent.
“I have had a great experience. It’s been wonderful, and [thanks to] the people at home for being so accepting of me.”
Stern spent four seasons on America’s Got Talent. In the finale’s black-and-white tribute to the wise, firm, but fair judge, he walks the streets of New York City greeting fans and talking about why he decided to join, People added.
“If I had any dream about this, it’s that I could take someone who was struggling and seriously give advice. I was told over and over again that I had no talent. I was in college radio. No one was banking on me.”
This advice often took the form of harsh, yet quite accurate, criticisms of hopeful contestants, which seemed to channel his own father’s influence. Early in his career, Mr. Stern gave his son a very honest five-page critique after hearing his radio show.
Stern decided to leave after the Season 10 finale to pursue other opportunities. According to USA Today, Sirius would like him to continue his radio program, and he has a TV offer “that excites me.”
“Excites me to no end. I think it would be a great opportunity,” he said. “But I can’t do America’s Got Talent, my radio show and this television opportunity.”
So as Paul Zerdin begins his new life, wealthy and with what will likely be a hit Vegas show (and hopefully Drew Lynch, Oz Pearlman, and Stevie Starr begin their own successful careers), Stern said goodbye to a show that introduced him to tons of new fans.
“I’ll go to a restaurant and parents will bring over their 10-year-olds to sit on my lap to take a picture. I’m like ‘Oh my god.’ It’s kind of funny to me because this never happened to me in my career.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]