- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nick Mitchell probably won’t be having the last laugh on “American Idol.”

The outrageous 27-year-old sketch comedian, who performed as his over-the-top alter ego Norman Gentle, was one of nine semifinalists sent packing Thursday on the popular Fox singing competition.

“I’m looking for employment — always,” Mitchell of Brookfield, Conn., told host Ryan Seacrest before his dismissal.

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The second group of the eighth season’s finalists not headed to the unemployment line are Allison Iraheta, a 16-year-old high school student from Los Angeles; Kris Allen, a 23-year-old University of Central Arkansas student from Conway, Ark.; and Adam Lambert, a 26-year-old theater actor from Los Angeles. The trio received the most viewer votes.

“I thought Nick was hilarious, so I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” said Lambert.

While the show’s four judges were more than satisfied with Lambert’s elastic take on the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” they had a mixed reaction to fellow finalist Allen’s performance of Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror.”

The panel was also impressed with red-haired Iraheta’s red-hot rendition of Heart’s “Alone.”

“You just blew it out the box!” Randy Jackson exclaimed after Iraheta performed Wednesday.

The three finalists will join 28-year-old church music director Danny Gokey from Milwaukee, 21-year-old musician Alexis Grace from Memphis, Tenn., and 27-year-old oil rig worker Michael Sarver from Jasper, Texas, who were selected as the first three finalists last week.

Next Tuesday, 12 more semifinalists will vie for three spots in the competition’s top 12.

Mitchell — and other dismissed semifinalists — may get another shot. After the first nine finalists are selected by viewer votes, the judges will pick the last three finalists following a special wild card round.

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