Over the course of the last 30 years, Canada’s Howie Mandel has been a major player on the international stage. His career spans many different aspects of the entertainment business, including film, television and stage.
Mandel is also a best-selling author, penning the humorous autobiography Here’s The Deal: Don’t Touch Me, a book that shed light on his obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Given the longevity of his career across so many facets of the entertainment business, perhaps no one is more surprised at such well-rounded success than Howie himself.
“From the day that my career started, I never dreamed it would be a career,” Mandel tells The Times & Transcript. “It was as though everything that I had been expelled for or punished for is what I was getting paid for. To look back on my whole career, no one is more surprised than I am that I have made a career doing these things.”
And what a career it has been. From his beginnings as a standup comedian through playing Dr. Wayne Fiscus on the primetime medical drama St. Elsewhere, Mandel has entertained audiences through a variety of outlets on both the big and small screens.
“I got up on stage at an amateur night at the Comedy Store in Calfornia and to go from doing standup to eventually finding my way to St. Elsewhere was just unfathomable to me. Doing standup gave me a segment of the audience that was different from those watching St. Elsewhere.”
Howie proudly notes that his talents were not used exclusively for adults. In addition to voicing a few different characters for the Muppet Babies show, Howie was also the creator and producer of the Emmy-nominated children’s series Bobby’s World, which ran from 1990 to 1998.
After a myriad of different projects took him into the 21st century, Howie found another round of primetime success hosting the NBC hit program Deal or No Deal. In 2007, he returned to the northern side of the 49th parallel to host Deal Or No Deal Canada. Most recently, Howie has found himself sitting alongside supermodel Heidi Klum, radio host Howard Stern and Spice Girl Melanie Brown on the TV talent showcase America’s Got Talent.
If there were distinct lines drawn between his various endeavours – and various audiences – in the past, Howie says he feels as though his audience finally converged when he began hosting Deal Or No Deal.
“It was with Deal Or No Deal that these various groups of fans were all brought together . . . The funny thing is though, I didn’t necessarily set out to be a game show host, nor did I seek out the opportunity to join America’s Got Talent. Who would ever think that I would be lucky enough to receive a paycheck to show up at something that turns into a job? Again, no one is more surprised at the way my career has unfolded than I am.”
“The one constant in my career however, whether I am hosting a television show or voicing a Saturday morning cartoon has been standup and that is a big reason why I am looking forward to returning to Moncton. With standup comedy, there are no borders, no rules and no lines to recite. Anything can happen in the run of a show. It is freeing and it is incredibly exciting.”
When asked what inspired him to move into the world of comedy, Howie is quick to credit Allen Funt, creator of the wildly popular television program Candid Camera. He says that while he wasn’t a textbook comedy student, dealing with life’s reality, in his books, offers him much more excitement than recycling the same jokes night after night.
“I was doing a standup show in-the-round and one of the spectators got up to go use the washroom,” Howie says. “After she left the room, I had a bunch of people change seats, which threw her off when she went to reclaim her seat. Watching her pace up and down different aisles was funny but to me, seeing that real human behaviour was almost funnier than anything I could have been saying at the time.
“I need that danger and that excitement with the live show and that is what keeps me coming back to standup.”
Article published in the July 25, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript