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Canada's Got Talent - S3E1: The Million Dollar Season begins with 2 Buzzers of Gold, acts that aren't very old, weights heavy to hold, and skaters that rolled

Bob Kapur     March 19, 2024 special guest columnist Bob Kapur recaps Canada's Got Talent airing Tuesdays on Citytv.

Welcome, everyone, to the official recaps of Canada’s Got Talent on My name is Bob Kapur, and I’m back as your official recapper for this season – excuse me, this Million Dollar season, since that is the prize that will be awarded to this year’s winner, and indeed the largest prize awarded in Canadian TV history.

With that kind of money at stake, and two hours to review, I won’t take up time with a lengthy introduction. Because we’ve got plenty of talent to get to – not the least of which is our incredible host Lindsay Ell and our amazing and esteemed judges: Trish, Kardinal Offishall, Lilly Singh, and Howie Mandel.

The show starts off with a quick musical montage of some of the acts that will be performing this season, hoping to earn themselves a Golden Buzzer and avoid the dreaded Red X.

Time to find out who gets what.


Elena, from Toronto, Ontario, kicked off the show – and then quickly got kicked off the show – thanks to a horrible butchering of the Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling”. Her lack of vocal skills was rivaled only by her lack of violin skills and her cheesy light-up angel-wing dress. Howie, perhaps in appreciation of her “I Love Howie” billboard belt, gave her a big yes. But the other judges did not. As you need three Yes votes to advance in the competition, Elena and her angel dress were sent off-stage and back to the wings. Angel, wings, see what I did there? I’ll be here all season, folks.

Mat and Mym

This real-life acrobatic couple from Quebec City, Quebec performed a thrilling roller-skating act atop a circular stage that looked to stand about 8-feet high. The judges were blown away by the speed and the danger factor of their stunts, which at one point saw Mat doing a rapid spin with Mym planking atop his head hands-free. Their finale saw Mym tethered to a strap worn around Mat’s neck as he spun around the circumference of the stage, perilously close to the edge.

Trish, Lilly, and Howie loved the riskiness of the act, saying that the prize this season almost mandates that the winner take big risks. Kardinal one-upped them all, though, in offering his praises. He said that he was blown away by what he’d seen, and had a feeling that Mat and Mym could win it all. In fact, that feeling was so strong that he awarded them his Golden Buzzer, which sends them straight to the next round.

Jim Chapeskie

Jim, a singer-songwriter from Waterloo, Ontario, sang an original song called “Fairy in the Night”, although calling what he did “singing” is being generous. His over-the-top delivery seemed like he was going for a style that was operatic but maybe an operation would have been more appropriate. One that could also cure the spasms that he passed off as dancing. The act got marginally better when a lady joined him on-stage to add some counter-harmonies, but it was still horrible enough to earn Xs from Kardinal (who actually hit the X within Jim’s first three notes), Trish, and Lilly. Once again, Howie said that he loved the performance (presumably ironically), saying that he’d heard the song before as he once found it online and started following Jim on social media. Everybody has a hobby, I guess. And Jim’s should not be singing-songwriting.

Matthew Cooper

During Matthew’s pre-performance interview, he talked about how his singing has helped him overcome his struggles. And one would assume that being 40% deaf in each ear would necessarily be a struggle for a singer. But you wouldn’t know it after hearing his stunning operatic version of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever”.

Performing the song in both Italian and English, Matthew felt like he belonged on stage in an Italian opera house as opposed to singing in his family room in Carbonear, Newfoundland & Labrador, where he taught himself to sing without his hearing aids. Even without them, he had to have heard the thunderous ovation the crowd gave him after his pitch-perfect crescendo.

The judges loved the performance, with Kardinal saying that it was that kind of moment that people tune in for. They’ll get their chance again, because the judges unanimously voted Yes, putting Matthew into the next round.

My take: This was about as close to a Susan Boyle moment as you’ll get. In the pre-performance video package, Matthew didn’t seem like a star, what with his Hawaiian shirt, his nervousness, and being there in the back with his mom. But, boy, as soon as he hit that first note, that all went away, and you knew you were looking at a contender. Matthew certainly has the vocal chops – but he also has a likeability that gets him far into the competition, especially when it comes time for Canada to vote. Definitely one to watch as the season continues.

Yuvin Marasini

At four years old, Yuvin is the youngest person ever to compete on the CGT stage. And, as you can imagine, standing up there with his big baby eyes dressed up in a cute miniature suit and innocently telling the judges he’d use the prize money to buy an ambulance, you know he captured the hearts of the audience. But from a critical standpoint, his performance was a fail. His baby-talked version of “Vacation” by Dirty Heads was simultaneously breathy, pitchy, and at times unintelligible. The judges went with their hearts and not their heads, all of them voting Yes. Which made for a nice TV moment, sure. But in the context of a competition, I call shenanigans.

Rory Van Ulft

A ten-year-old from Toronto, Ontario, Rory didn’t impress the judges right away with her gymnastic skills, with Lilly commenting that the first sequence in her routine was a little sloppy. But then came a big twist that shocked everyone: a couple of men came onto the stage and loaded up a bar with some heavy weights, and Rory proceeded to do a powerlifting routine. They gradually increased the weight on the bar to the point that her final lift, which she pressed over her head – was nearly double her own weight. And if that weren’t incredible enough, she even held it aloft while standing on one leg. That was incredibly impressive. The judges lifted their hands and raised their voices in unison to vote Yes to a well-deserving Rory.

Essence Williams

The kids just keep on coming, this time with 12-year-old Essence. Her nerves seemed to be showing at the top of her performance, as it looked like she was just gulping air like a fish out of water while the music to “La donna è mobile” from the opera Rigoletto played. But that was entirely the point, as it turns out, because that was how she ingested enough air to belch along to the tune. At the end of each line, Essence would sing the final couple of words with a burp so deep and loud that Dudley “Booger” Dawson would be proud (look it up, kids).

Howie loved the bizarre humour of the act and the other judges ranged from disgust to mildly-entertained. Trish sided with Howie, but Lilly and Kardinal said No and excused Essence out of the competition.

Great Canadian Dueling Pianos

This two-man act from Toronto, Ontario didn’t have a chance to rehearse their act – nor did they need to. Because their specialty is to improvise piano mash-ups of songs suggested by the audience. Their made-up-on-the-spot blending of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” with “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen was fantastic, as if they were actually one song. Their impromptu version had the audience’s toes tapping and their minds popping from the first note to the last, and the duo was rewarded with a standing ovation from the crowd and the judges.

Howie told them that this was a million-dollar act, and Lilly said that she could watch them do that repeatedly. Kardinal – and this is huge coming from him – said that they were essentially hip-hop to the core, improvising mixes that rival even the most talented of DJs. The duo got two Yes votes... and then two more.

My take: This is one of the best acts I’ve ever seen on any season on CGT. If you’ve been reading my recaps from the beginning, you know that my litmus test of who should go through is whether or not I’d buy a ticket to see the act perform live. This one is a definite yes from me. As a music lover and an improv performer myself (shout out to my fam at Oakville Improv Company), this one hit every chord with me.

Kibra & Fortune

This inter-species singing act saw Kibra (a woman) and Fortune (a dog) perform a duet of “All By Myself” by the late Eric Carmen. The novelty here is that when Kibra hit the high notes, Fortune would howl and bark along. Kibra wasn’t bad, but the dog’s caterwauling made this pretty terrible.

Trish was not impressed, suggesting that Kibra going solo would be a much better way to go. Lilly, on the other hand, loved the comedy aspect of the act, and Howie and Kardinal agreed. With three Yesses, this dog of an act made it through to seek their fame and Fortune.

Luka & Jenalyn

This couple from Toronto, Ontario, showcased Jenalyn’s jazz dance stylings with some power and strength moves by Luka, including some really graceful body lifts and spins. A great move saw Luka lift Jenalyn over his head, and then release her such that she caught herself on his body and slid down his body like a fire pole while she was twisted backwards around him. If that sounds physically complex and difficult to picture, it’s because it was. And impressive as heck. The strength exhibited throughout their routine was exceptional, but it never took away from the artistry. The judges agreed, complimenting both the physicality and the storytelling of the routine. And rewarded Luka & Jenalyn with four Yesses.

Mark Clearview

To call Mark simply a magician wouldn’t do justice to the act. Even calling him a comedy magician isn’t sufficient – though he did have some hilarious lines during his tricks and his delivery and timing were flawless. No, he was more like an Andy Kaufman type of comedy magician. As in he was at times his delivery was sarcastic and borderline-aggressive to the point that he might seem unlikeable. And his tricks didn’t seem like they were good – or even working. Until the end, when the payoff was simply jaw-dropping. The core of the trick saw Mark ask Lilly to name a card, only for her to find that card stuffed inside a roasted chicken that had been sitting in a clear take-out container that Mark had placed on the judges’ table earlier in the act. After that, he revealed a bruise on his waist that spelled out a five-letter word that Howie had chosen but not named until immediately before the bruise was shown. In the meantime, there were broken eggs, a flipped-over table, and a bunch of funny Hangman jokes.

Mark’s delivery was witty, his tricks were inventive and mind-blowing, and the entertainment value was off the charts for this one. The judges had no hesitation in conjuring up four Yesses for Mark, with Howie saying he was the best magician he’d seen in ten years.

Jordan Ho

During his pre-audition interview, Jordan – a sixteen-year-old singer from Edmonton, Alberta – said that if he won the competition, he would use the money to take care of his mother, who he called his biggest supporter and best friend. She was the one, he said, who encouraged him to sing while working in her nail salon, and that encouragement is what has led him to the CGT stage.

His rendition of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” might keep him there for a while. While Jordan’s young voice didn’t quite have the soul and gravitas of the original, it was also very clear and clean and his range was excellent, hitting the high notes perfectly. The judges all believed that Jordan had the vocal chops to advance far in the competition and from the salon he will sail on to the next round.


Pepe is from Vaughn, Ontario, is 21 years old, is unemployed, and is a horrible singer-songwriter. He justifiably received four Red Xs and told to stepe off the stage.

Gordon Neall

Off-stage, Gordon is a pension manager and during his pre-show audition interview, he showed that he had the personality of… a pension manager. So it was a bit of a swerve when his act saw him dressed in a skin-tight singlet, a doggie head-cone, and rubber gloves. His act was an artistic performance/interpretive dance that saw him trying to feed himself a cupcake despite wearing a doggie cone. In the end, after several failed attempts, he gave the cupcake to Lilly and asked her throw it to him from the judges’ table. She did and he caught it in the cone, to great applause and celebration for the catch.

This was simultaneously bizarre and artistic, or as I will henceforth dub it, bizarrtistic. Lilly and Howie loved the absurdist nature of the act and were quick to vote Yes. Kardinal seemed a little reluctant but said he wanted to see what else Gordon could bring to the table, and put him through. Trish was more enthusiastic and she made it unanimous.

Sterling V. Scott

Sterling is a comedian who moved from Scarborough, Ontario to Edmonton, Ontario. Despite having lost his house as a result of the COVID lockdowns that put him out of work, Sterling was full of positivity and big energy both behind the curtain and on the stage.

His delivery was great and the charm that he exuded really helped sell his material – basically turning racism upside-down by comparing the struggles of Black people in Canada with those of redheads – a topic that could have been seen as too edgy if delivered by anyone else.

Howie called him amazing and Lilly said that she was waiting for someone to come on stage and make them laugh uncontrollably. Kardinal – who was even the target of a couple of jokes – loved Scott’s personality and presentation, and Trish said that from the minute he came out on stage, she knew that Sterling had star potential, that he “got it.”

Trish said that he delivered on the judges dreams of being able to showcase people who undeniably have talent and give them an opportunity to show it. And in exchange, she would help Sterling pursue his dream – and with that, she hit the Golden Buzzer to make Sterling $25,000 richer and put him into the next round. Trish joined Sterling and his family on stage as he celebrated with tears of joy to end the show.

This was a great start to what should be a standout season. There was a lot of variety in the acts, with some of them doing things that we’ve never really seen before – hopefully that’s a sign of more goodness to come. And I’ve already got a few on my list that I am looking forward to see again.

Which acts were your favourites? What kind of acts are you hoping to see during the season? Chime in below or hit me up on the Twitter (@ReadBobsTweets) and let me know your thoughts.

Until next week!

Other notes:
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Rogers is providing the $1 Million dollar prize for the winner and CIBC is providing the Golden Buzzer cash prizes. I don’t get any piece of that, but I figure if I name-check them, maybe they’ll throw something my way.

  • During a discussion between the judges, Trish said that she believed that she was the strongest person in the entire room. Having seen what she can do in a wrestling ring, I think that’s a safe bet.

  • I remember when I was a kid, I would get sent to my room for trying to burp the alphabet, and Essence is doing it on stage for a chance to win a million bucks. I was way ahead of my time as a kid.

  • Luka & Jenalyn danced to the song “Shallows” by Lady Gaga. That song choice alone will elevate any dance routine. Or, heck, any routine. If Fortune had hit the high notes on that one, I might have liked the act even more.

  • In honour of Gordon Neill’s act, I call trademark/copyright on the portmanteaus “bizarrtistic” and “bizartistic” and all uses of those terms in perpetuity.

  • After a judge has awarded their Golden Buzzer, I wonder if they ever regret their choice if they subsequently see an act that they like better. I know that the auditions aren’t shown in the sequence in which they’re filmed – so it’s possible that tonight’s picks by Trish and Kardinal were made after they’d seen a bunch of other acts that have yet to air. I guess that’s a gamble they have to take in the moment. For my money, the piano guys would have been my Golden Buzzer choice of all the acts tonight.

Stills from episode »

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