Ellie Kemper came aboard the “America's Got Talent” judges’ panel for the July 30 third-round of Judge Cuts. The Emmy-nominated actress and comedian was in a completely different environment than on the altered universe of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” but she showed that she still knew how to press the golden buzzer and have a great time. Another 18 acts attempted to hurdle the high bar of pleasing the panel enough to hold onto a future on “America's Got Talent.”

Some performers weren't so pleasing in their second look, while others performed as if their very lives depended on it.

The final cut to the chosen seven acts brought its share of tears and surprises, and the audience seemed to have a big say.

Wows and yawns

Greg Morton promised the judges that he had taken his performance to another level with his montage of movie memories stretching from “The Wizard of Oz” to “Snakes on a Plane” (edited to be suitable for prime time TV). The 60-year-old entertainer is banking on his “America's Got Talent” stint to end his existence of praying for every gig. He wowed the panel with his “Star Wars” tribute on the Season 14 debut, and his tinsel town bow brought everyone to a standing ovation. Ellie Kemper was impressed, and Howie Mandel was delighted that his character, Bobby, in “Gremlins.” Simon Cowell praised that Morton’s effort reminded him of why “America's Got Talent” was created in the beginning.

Carmen Carter didn’t come into play around, either. In her pre-performance profile, she spoke about Simon Cowell’s encouragement had given her new open perspective. She shocked the audience by tearing into “Come Together,” the Beatles classic, with raucous, soulful perfection. Ellie Kemper told Carmen that her chair was broken because of the ecstasy that the singer had given the guest judge.

Simon counseled that Carmen needed to do more than cover songs to stay in the competition.

Psychic Nicholas Wallace was downright frightening to Howie Mandel in his audition performance. Howie even asked that his rocking chair prop be removed from the stage. This time, the performance involving host Terry Crews thinking about the Statue of Liberty was nothing but boring to Simon, and his cohorts felt the same.

The dog act to follow was similarly dull.

Julianne Hough admitted to goofy Japanese tambourine artist, Gonzo, that everyone was sleeping before he came onstage. His silly, but lively stepping, along with karate moves to his musical instrument, had everyone paying attention. Howie Mandel complimented that he had taken his performance to another level. Simon Cowell actually thanked him and questioned the audience about moving the passionate performer on in the competition. Only Gabrielle Union was a bit disappointed.

Revolution, the Queens of Malambo, the Argentinian dance generally reserved only for men, really brought the fire to this performance. The ladies beat their drums and made their dramatic moves with flaming torches.

Gabrielle Union raved about the performance again, and Simon Cowell credited that they were “a great act,” but would they survive the night?

Guitarist Marcin Patrzalek said that Simon had inspired him with thoughts of Flamenco, and the wonder boy with strings earned ovations and roars from the audience with his completely original, dynamic, and innovative performance for this “America's Got Talent” trial. Gabrielle Union dubbed the prodigy “a rockstar,” and Ellie Kemper called him a “virtuoso.” Simon simply called him an amazing talent, and Julianne Hough gushed: “you can win this whole thing.” In any case, this musician’s future will never be the same. What he creates is magic.

Kudos can still turn to tears

Several performers, such as a pianist who transforms into a robot dancer, didn't fare so well, so it's no wonder that Ansley Burns him from South Carolina was especially nervous. The 12-year-old gave her best on “Good Girls,” but Simon wasn't having any of it. The British judge not known for grace gave her the same guidance as during her audition. He told her just sing without any backing track, and once again, she did. She paused "to think," for considerable moments before finding her composure. She proved the pure tone in her voice, and Simon assured that it was her personality that was her most genuine appeal. Ellie Kemper called Ansley’s vocals “astounding.” She would have a nervous wait concerning her fate.

The Ukrainian group, Light Balance Kids, seem to be doing even better in their “America's Got Talent” progress than their adult counterpart. The company’s energy and artistry are infectious, and the audience definitely showed their love. Ellie Kemper loved their “spectacle,” and pretended to be bemused about what to do next until she said: “Oh. Wait! I have this,” smashing her golden buzzer and sending the shower of gold. Simon Cowell called the kids “stars” and Howie Mandel said that he would already pay to see them perform.

Simon usually has a penchant for a quirky, fun act, but for some reason, he wasn't into any of what the drag queen group, Stephanie's Child, delivered on stage. The “ladies” certainly had panache and were not hard on the ears, but Simon insisted: “I couldn't listen to any more of the screaming.”

On the other hand, the musical danger act, Nick & Lindsay, somehow leaped into Simon's heart.

He was taken by the audience response to the serenading, knife-throwing couple, who captured a feel from “Phantom of the Opera” this time. The judges were captivated, along with the crowd. In summation, Cowell called the pair “fantastic and nuts.”

Favorites bid farewell

Duo MainTenanT displayed their characteristic strength and artistry with a sensual flair, much like their audition, but perhaps the performance was just a little too similar to the first.

Lovable senior strength and balance performers, Edson, and Leon, borrowed from the playful side of the movie, “Up” for their genuinely uplifting and joyful performance of doing amazing things with one another's bodies! “Wow!” Gabrielle Union exclaimed, noting how endearing simply seeing the two men perform is.

Simon Cowell praised that “your motors are still running,” while Ellie Kemper simply said that their performance was “quite a feat.” Most men in their 40s could never approach this level of athleticism, much less in their 70s and 80s.

Melissa Arleth and her very intelligent, companion rat, Varicella (yes, that's the name) demonstrated extreme dedication and diligence together, with the delightful rodent pulling levers, scaling ladders, and swinging by ropes in a New York City scene. Ellie Kemper could barely keep from squealing, and it must have been disconcerting to see the pet and performer root her way through her owner’s evening gown, live on stage. Gabrielle Union proclaimed that she “loved it,” and Ellie Kemper said that Varicella had shown herself to be a “show woman.”

They say that the best place on an “America's Got Talent” roster is the last one.

Judges and the audience generally remember the last performer most, and the singer, Mackenzie, was determined to make the most of that fact. Though not his own original song, his choice of the Journey ballad, “Faithfully,” seemed fully autobiographical and from the heart. The singer’s heart and soul pulsated through every stanza and verse, and the judges and the Universal Studios crowd felt his passion. Julianne Hough critique that the performance seemed “pushed,” but Ellie Kemper felt the joy overriding any negative forces. “How can you critique that?” Simon Cowell rhetorically asked. Gabrielle Union concurred, “I felt it.”

The deliberations in choosing six more performers to make the final seven seemed to go suddenly, but the news of not being selected was especially hard for Ansley Burns, who sobbed bitterly and got big hugs of encouragement from Simon and every other judge.

There were tears for Revolution dancers, too. Turning down Edson and Leon was a difficult choice, but the stoic guys will enjoy life, no matter where their next stage is.

This week's seven performers moving on are:

Light Balance Kids

Greg Morton


Carmen Carter


Lindsay & Nick


Jay Leno joins in as guest judge next week, so viewers can bet that it won’t be a quiet night.