Nick Cannon Speaks on America’s Got Talent’s Systematic Issues and Hit New Show “Masked Singer”

In 2017, Nick Canon’s exit from the hit televised talent show “America’s Got Talent” made headlines after he made remarks that he felt the network NBC was planning to sanction him after making edgy jokes about the network and show in his Showtime comedy special “Stand up, Don’t’ Shoot.”

Canon’s claims followed former judge panelist Gabrielle Union’s accusations of racism and other issues during her time on the AGT set of season 14. According to the New York Post, Cannon feels the allegations brought in by Union echo “a truly systematic issue in my mind.

Although the ex-host says he still loves the show and was “never upset with any individual at NBC,” he says he’s unapologetic about leaving the biggest stage in the world and condemns the way contestants were treated once they were sent home from the show.

“Everybody’s so caught up in making this massive great television show that they forget there are humans and feelings and cultural concerns,” Cannon said. “In making a show that big a lot of times the machine can get a little too big, and people forget that there are people involved. Once you hit them with those four X-es, they’re shattered.”

Cannon recalls trying to provide emotional support to contestants who were overwhelmed by the AGT experience and used his own pre-Hollywood teenage warmup comic story as a reminder and encourager to keep going.

“I would tell them ‘Don’t let that (‘AGT’ ouster) effect you. Don’t let that stop you. This is just one moment. This doesn’t mean anything about you or your gifts or your talents,’ ” Cannon said. “Sometimes it takes a Gabrielle Union to remind people, ‘Yo, there’s humanity going on here.”

Cannon says after AGT “I was really meticulous about what I would want to host again in the space of nonscripted variety since I had done it on the biggest level with ‘AGT.’ I didn’t want to jump in and host another talent show.” But then came the opportunity to host Fox’s hit show “Masked Singer,” a show where celebrities wear an elaborate, mascot-style costume to compete in a singing contest while audience and panelists try to guess who’s behind the masks.

Network producers jump through loops to maintain the identities during production; even Cannon doesn’t know who’s behind the costume until the end of the sing-off series due to strict FCC rules that regulate the competition elements and also because he wants an “audience experience.”

“It wouldn’t be as much fun if I knew who it was,” Cannon says and adds, “We were dealing with quarantine before the coronavirus,” Cannon, 39, said of his gig. “All of the secrecy is so inconvenient. Everyone is kept so separate in their own little areas. I can’t see the talent. They arrive in secret locations.”

After Cannon’s eight-season stint with AGT, he wasn’t looking to host another variety show, but “Masked Singer” was a tempting opportunity that paid off. The show’s fourth production cycle with Cannon as its host is set to take place in late 2020.

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