"American Idol" hopeful Nick Mitchell didn't win over the judges with his singing, but his over-the-top style clearly qualified as comedy.
Mitchell left the judges laughing and nearly speechless Wednesday after he wailed a show-stopper from the musical "Dreamgirls." He came on as the flamboyant alter ego he has christened Norman Gentle.
Simon Cowell called the performance "atrocious" and "horrific," and his three fellow judges didn't argue.
The acerbic Cowell had no kinder comments for Matt Giraud: "verging on a horrible performance."
And Jeanine Vailes moved the gentler Randy Jackson to say that her performance's "best part was the end, when it was over."
But all wasn't lost.
Red-haired, full-throated Allison Iraheta wowed the judges.
"This is a funny show tonight," marveled Jackson when the 16-year-old Los Angeles native was done. "First, we had comedy, we got some bad singing. You just blew it out the box!"
"From now on, you can be sure you're great," raved Kara DioGuardi.
On Wednesday's live broadcast, the second group of 12 contestants were vying to be among this season's dozen finalists. The night's top three vote-getters will be revealed on the Fox series' Thursday episode.
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