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Scott D. Pierce: Utahns look for way to keep Tummy Talk-ing

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Tummy Talk — Matt Nickles, Liahona Seumanu, Tyrell Shepherd and Niu Luamanuvae — on "America's Got Talent." Courtesy photo

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 12 2013 04:28PM
Updated Dec 7, 2013 11:34PM

The men of Tummy Talk have seen their fame extend beyond the first 15 minutes. Whether they can make it to 20 remains to be seen.

The Utahns advanced to the second round on "America’s Got Talent." But now they have to figure out what to do next.

You have to see their act to believe it. Matt Nickle, Tyrell Shepherd and Liahona Seumanu play percussion on the bare torso and face of Niu Luamanuvae. They’ve become a YouTube sensation; they appeared on "Live with Jimmy Kimmel" earlier this year; and, somewhat surprisingly, they made it out of the first round on an episode of "AGT" that aired last week.

Some places, you slap a big man and you’re in trouble. On "America’s Got Talent," you get judge Heidi Klum saying, "Is it wrong that I liked it?"

The good news is that Tummy Talk advanced to the Las Vegas round of the auditions. The bad news is that, despite all those YouTube views, there’s isn’t much of an act there. And now the guys have to prove they’re more than one-hit wonders.

"We weren’t sure if we were going to make it to the next round or not," said Nickle. "So we really didn’t think too much into it. But now that we’ve made it to the next round, we have sat down and kind of brainstormed the direction that we wanted to take our act."

The whole Tummy Talk thing began as a bit of a lark.

"We originally came up with the idea because we wanted to make just a funny YouTube video," Nickle said. "We made it just for fun."

The guys are longtime friends with ties that go back to their days at Bingham High and the University of Utah.

"Growing up, we used to play on our kitchen counters at home or on our desks at school," Nickle said. "And so we feel like it was only a matter of time [before] we kind of transferred that over to a human person."

There’s certainly a novelty factor. Or, as judge Howie Mandel put it, a "gimmick."

And part of that gimmick is Luamanuvae’s stoic demeanor as the other three are slapping him repeatedly in rhythm.

"I’m not sure if I liked you slapping him so hard," said judge/former Spice Girl Mel B.

The men of Tummy Talk know they’ve got to up their game if they want to advance further into the "America’s Got Talent" competition when the next round begins airing on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. on NBC/Channel 5.

"We felt there’s only so much you can do with slapping a large, fat man for music," Nickle said. And it’s hard to argue with him.

"But we’re all trained percussionists, so we want to add some more instruments," he added. "We want to add some drumming, some drums, maybe some drum sets, and maybe even a couple more large men."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

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