The shock jock is moved by talented singers and dancers but he hasn't lost his edge

By Aaron Parsley
May 14, 2012 10:45 PM
Credit: Mark Seliger/NBC

Howard Stern made his debut on America’s Got Talent Monday night, taking a seat next to Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel on the show’s seventh season premiere.

“These executives at NBC must be out of their mind to take a risk on me,” he said at the top of the hour. But in fact, the radio shock jock showed a lot of heart and proved he’s got talent – for judging!

When the Light Wire Theater group performed a dance routine featuring glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs, Stern, who pointed out earlier in the night that he was the only American on the panel, had a moment of patriotism. “We are the greatest country in the world. We have the most creative people. You’re everything that makes America great,” he told the dancers. “I applaud your originality and I thank you for lifting everyone’s spirit.”

Watching father and daughter duo Maurice and Shanice Hayes sing “I’ll Be There” made the new judge emotional. “You move me. You guys are spectacular together,” he said. “I think every father in America right now is like, ‘Wow, that’s the kind of relationship I want to have with my daughter.’ ”

But Stern hasn’t totally lost his edge. When stripping magician Aoni Jackson made Howie Mandel’s ring disappear and then reappear hanging off Jackson’s nipple ring, Stern buzzed him not once but twice, walking over to Howie’s empty seat and lighting up his X for him. He also commented on what he described as a “small package.”

“I think the X has a lot of power,” he said later. “I like hitting it.”

When another performer with questionable talents said his parents were dead, Stern asked if they died of embarrassment.

A longtime fan of the show, Stern is clearly enjoying himself as the newest judge – and it’s a refreshing change for NBC’s summer talent search.

“It is one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.