#24: Bruce Block (Seasons 2 & 3)
Bruce Block was not a letdown so much as a steady decline.
But said steady decline took a full year to reach its eventual conclusion, so for many viewers, it sure felt like a great big letdown.
Block first appeared during Season 2, where he performed a routine in which his rabbit, Skippy a-la King, was made to appear that he had hijacked the show in order to perform standup.
The jokes were terrible, sure, but Block had the entire audience intrigued from the get-go by Block's apparent training of an animal that would have otherwise been thought impossible to train. Skippy came out of his hiding spot, climbed up to the microphone, stayed with it for the duration of the routine, and returned back the way he came, all without any apparent manipulation by Block himself.
Then began his two-season decline.
Block first garnered a lot of sympathy by claiming, in Las Vegas, that an assistant necessary for the act he intended to do had cancelled on him at the last second, forcing him to come up with a new illusion completely from scratch at the eleventh hour.
He dubbed the trick "Pulling a rabbi out of a hat," but the trick actually involved making the head of the actor depicting the rabbit disappear.
It was more cute and comical than impressive, so his elimination was understood. Because of the circumstances, Block's first Vegas performance is only remembered unkindly as a hint of what was to come.
A year later, Block returned for Season 3, and this time did at the open call the trick he'd originally intended to do in Las Vegas the year before. This involved him lying down on a bed of nails while the assistant who cancelled on him sang and tap-danced on top of him.
It's open to debate whether this routine was better or worse than the one with the rabbi. Which is exactly the problem: Considering the latter had literally been slapped together at the last second, there should have been no comparison between it and the act Block had at least one full year to develop further.
Making matters worse, Block proceeded to potentially give away the secret of this trick in Las Vegas. He did an escape from a straightjacket in Vegas, and between then and the open calls, he appeared to have lost a considerable amount of weight. This time, however, he did make it to the Top 40.
Finally, America had their chance to vote on Block. And for their vote, Block performed a routine heavy with actors and theatrics in which he claimed he would be sawing a horse in half.
Much like his trick with the rabbi, this built up to him doing the exact opposite. After teasing the audience with a long-winded monologue, two actors dressed in separated halves of a horse costume ran onto the stage and into Block's shadow box, from which he produced a miniature pony.
It took an entire year just to build up to the most generic of all magic tricks possible.
It's sadly ironic that it was for the routine during which Block was never once present on the stage that he is now most fondly remembered.