On the first night of America’s Got Talent qualifiers for the 17th season, some of the best of the best gathered, ranging from performers such as Avery Dixon in his return after winning the golden buzzer, and ending with country singer Drake Milligan (who shared why he decided to return) stand-up comedian Leys Larrabee. She made an impression at her audition and clearly received enough support from the judges that she was not one of the wildcards, but her performance on August 9 was interrupted after three minutes when Judge Simon Cowell pressed his buzzer and gave her a red cross. After the speech, Larrabee shared her thoughts on what he had done and her message to critics.
Simon Cowell buzzing on Lace Larrabee was so sudden that Heidi Klum seemed to jump in her seat, the crowd seemed confused, and the stand-up was clearly shocked. The crowd was on her side and booed Cowell for putting a red cross. Cowell was subsequently booed again when he said he did it to “help” her because for him “everything was going downhill” and it “really seemed almost rehearsed.” than spontaneously.” In a conversation with the press (including CinemaBlend) after the performance, she shared exactly what she thinks about what Cowell did, and said:
I thought it was incredibly unfair. I thought it was just misinformation based on what comedy is. So if he uses the comment “I’m trying to help her” — you’re literally doing the opposite. Because stand-up comedy and the science behind humor must develop to a climax and, possibly, to a callback. That he interrupted me while I was working on the build would just be bad behavior for the viewer, so I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t appreciate his comments. I thought, you know, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to laugh. It’s the best thing about stand-up comedy. It’s subjective. If you don’t like it, just don’t laugh. But he just stopped looking at me in the middle of my set, which… not cool.
To her credit, Lace Larrabee never lost her composure and continued her set even after what must have been the most difficult interruption an America’s Got Talent contestant can face. Thankfully, the crowd kept laughing after the shock of Simon Cowell’s buzzer, and she finished as decisively as she had started, despite what she called Cowell’s “incredibly unfair” move.
This isn’t the first time she’s faced some critics of her comedy, as she shared in a video package that was shown before her shoot. A former contestant who used comedy as her talent on the show (and now cites Joan Rivers as a source of inspiration and idol), she revealed that others would ask her why she “didn’t choose a real talent” to perform.
Considering that she went all the way to the qualifying matches of the particularly competitive season of America’s Got Talent, it’s safe to say that she definitely found her talent in comedy. I asked Larrabee what she would say to her critics now, and she shared:
I think everyone knows the answer to this question now. I always chose comedy pieces, and at that time I wasn’t necessarily performing in the stand-up genre. I’ve been repeating other people’s words, but I think now they know it was my passion, and they’ve seen how I took it and turned it into a career, and was able to do something amazing, like America’s Got Talent, and share my passion and my career with the world. That I don’t think many of the baton twirlers I’ve come across at contests can say they’re doing it for a living now. So I think I won.
Of course, there are no twirling sticks in the $1 million race and the Las Vegas stage show at America’s Got Talent, and I would say she has something to be proud of, no matter where her path takes her next. If you missed Laice Larrabee’s laughter before and after the break (or just want to enjoy watching it again), take a look at her performance at the qualifiers:
America’s Got Talent is wasting no time reducing the number of participants as the finals approach. Unlike previous seasons, the actors have only one chance after the audition to try to impress the voters enough to advance, and only two of the eleven acts who perform in each episode will get a chance to receive the grand prize.
The first night of qualifying was quite unpredictable, and not only because of Simon Cowell’s unexpected X during Larrabee’s performance. Who really guessed that Ben Lapidus would turn “The Parmesan Cheese Song” into a metal song to bring down the whole house?
Continue tuning in to NBC on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET for new editions of America’s Got Talent qualifiers and on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET for the results. By subscribing to Peacock, you will be able to watch all the episodes that you might have missed and find additional viewing options in our schedule of TV premieres for 2022.