Spoilers ahead for the second episode of America's Got Talent Season 16 on NBC.
After the previous season of America's Got Talent ran into some obstacles that saw Brandon Leake take the top prize with no studio audience and no Simon Cowell, Season 16 is more or less back to business as usual. Cowell had to leave Season 15 early after breaking his back in an electric bike accident, and although AGT made up for his absence with some fantastic guest judges, it just felt strange that he wasn't around. But now he's back, and Howie Mandel was inspired by an incredible unicycle act to roast his fellow judge.
The roasting actually started gently, before Japanese group Unicycle Flow started their fantastic dance act on their unicycles. Howie Mandel addressed Simon Cowell from the opposite end of the judges' table, saying:
Does this scare you, Simon? When you see people on bikes?
To his credit, Simon Cowell immediately laughed and responded with "Now you mention it..." Cowell and Mandel have a history of mocking and even pranking each other on America's Got Talent, so it was probably inevitable that Mandel's gloves would come off once it was clear that Cowell was back and, according to Mandel, even better than ever. That wasn't the only instance of Mandel joking Cowell about his back-breaking bike incident, however.
After Unicycle Flow blew the judges' (and probably viewers') minds with their act, Howie Mandel went out of his way to both compliment the four people who dazzled on their unicycles and poke some fun at Simon Cowell for breaking his back. Mandel said to Unicycle Flow:
For you to bring beautiful dance, we have never seen anything like that before. And what a great example for Simon Cowell to see. Even with one wheel you're able to balance. I don't know if you know what happened to him with two wheels. There was no dancing.
Simon Cowell's response after the second zinger was just "Don't ask" and Unicycle Flow had larger concerns while waiting for the judges to vote than asking what Howie Mandel was talking about with his allusions to a bike incident for Cowell. All things considered, Cowell clearly took the comments in good fun, so this wasn't an example of attempted AGT humor falling flat and feeling awkward for everybody. Besides, Cowell has recovered from a very serious injury!
In case you missed the whole performance, check out the Unicycle Flow act, which Howie Mandel posted on Twitter with one last joke at Simon Cowell's expense:
Unicycle Flow earned a yes from each of the four judges, guaranteeing that they'll advance at least one more stage of the competition. Although not getting a golden buzzer means that they won't be advanced all the way to the live shows automatically, that's good news for viewers! After all, we'll be able to see Unicycle Flow take the stage multiple more times, assuming they continue to dazzle the judges.
AGT Season 16 is already off to an unusual start thanks to none other than Sethward getting to advance from the premiere after being quickly eliminated after all his other appearances, AGT including a virtual audience, and more, so be sure to tune in.