'AGT' Season 17: Hard-of-hearing comic Hayden Kristal wins hearts, fans miss Howie's reaction

'AGT' Season 17: Hard-of-hearing comic Hayden Kristal wins hearts, fans miss Howie's reaction
Hayden Kristal in 'AGT' Season 17 (Twitter/AGT Auditions)

Hayden Kristal, a hard-of-hearing queer activist, auditioned for Season 17 of 'America's Got Talent.' With their performance, the Colorado-based standup comic captivated both the live crowd and the judges, demonstrating the excellent potential to advance in the competition.

Hayden is one of several competitors that demonstrated their abilities in the reality talent show. 'AGT' has been renewed for a 17th season, and it is immensely popular among spectators since it has featured a diverse range of talent throughout the years. Many candidates who appeared on the show for the first time went on to become well-known performers and celebrities. This year's competitors are aiming for the same thing, so they've borrowed inspiration from previous victors to offer themselves a chance at recognition. Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel (not for this performance), Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell are back for another season to captivate fans with their intriguing camaraderie.


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Hayden Kristal, an 'AGT' participant, prefers they/them/theirs, although "[they] accept[s] anything said with good intent." They are a standup comedian and a hard-of-hearing queer artist from Colorado whose life has centered on experiencing disadvantaged identities, which has inspired them to explore a variety of careers. The comic was a former zookeeper from Brooklyn who left a lucrative profession with salamanders to pursue comedy and public speaking. Hayden has tackled the "intersections of ability, gender, s*xuality, and access, particularly within the spheres of activism and social justice" as a professional speaker.

Comedian Hayden Kristal gave a noteworthy performance, which had the crowd laughing throughout their stand-up show while making jokes about their experiences as a hard-of-hearing individual. The judges unanimously approved of them. The hard-of-hearing comic wasted little time in delivering her first quip. They began signing on stage and then talked into the microphone, explaining that she preferred to start that way since "it does make heckling me an ADA violation." Kristal came to 'AGT' because they and their mother are longstanding fans of the program, and they have seen previous performers with impairments "given the tools to succeed" on the show. The traveling comedian entertained the crowd with their gags, assisted by an interpreter. "Comedy is a language everyone understands," they explained. "Part of why I wanted to come to 'America's Got Talent' is watching so many other comics with disabilities come here and succeed."

Hayden followed Harper's performance with a standup comedy set in the hopes of impressing Heidi. To set the tone for her performance, Hayden began in front of the mike rather than behind it, signing her answer to Sofia's "How are you?" query. They revealed that they were born deaf into a hearing household and that they do utilize an interpreter despite performing most of the show in spoken English. Throughout her set, Hayden made fun of their dual major of American Sign Language and Zookeeping, as well as the obstacles they have faced in terms of employment credentials. Simon stated that their truthful storytelling was a fantastic theme for the set. The judges all agreed that they wanted to see more from Hayden, therefore they sent them to the next round.

This uplifting act was widely praised on social media, with admirers praising the comic's performance. Joelle Goldstein, TV Staff Editor at People, was amongst the people lauding Hayden's performance: "@HaydenKristal is possibly one of my favorite comedians to ever walk the #AGT stage. Her material, her delivery, her story… all Can’t wait to see how far she goes in the competition!"


One fan who shares a similar experience with that of Hayden's wrote on Twitter: "I’m not usually a fan of the comedians (personal preference for singers and dancers) on @AGT but, being hearing impaired and relating to Hayden’s comedy was GREAT! Can’t wait to see more of her!! #AmericasGotTalent #AGT". Another fan who had their opinion about the comedian turned soon after their perfomance, tweeted: "Deaf comedian, I didn’t think much of you at first, but you really won me over. Well done! #AGT".



One fan said: "Hayden was such a breath of fresh air....she is cute, funny and beautiful #agt". One fan also pointed out how Howie would love to witness the performance as he loves standups from comics. On the judge missing out on the performance, a fan wrote: "I always like to see Howie’s reaction to other comedians which is why it sucks he’s not here. #AGT".



‘America's Got Talent’ Season 17 airs every Tuesday at 8 pm ET on NBC. For viewers who wish to watch the reality show without cable, they can use any of these streaming services like Sling TV, fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV or YouTube TV as well.

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