Howie Mandel makes it a party at the Playhouse

When Howie Mandel is in the house, you know you’re in for a fun time. On June 14, the multi-faceted entertainer brings his stand-up act to the Ridgefield Playhouse for an evening of hilarious jokes, unexpected commentary on life, and more.

For more than 30 years, Mandel has been a recognizable face in the show business industry. Although widely known for his comedic talent, he’s performed in television, film, stage, animation, and even print, writing his 2009 memoir. Currently, Mandel is a regular on the talk show and comedy circuits and is one of the judges on NBC’s hit talent competition series “America’s Got Talent.”

Pamela Brown recently spoke with Mandel in advance of his upcoming show.

Pamela Brown: How do you define yourself?

Howie Mandel: Just gorgeous!

PB: What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done so far in your career?

HM: Stand-up is always exciting. There’s no lines to recite, no editing. It’s amazing — everything I’ve ever been punished for or got into trouble for I’ve been paid for.

PB: Did you ever imagine you’d be where you are today?

HM: I didn’t even think I’d be in the industry. A day doesn’t go by that I think about how this is 180 degrees from where I thought I’d be. This began as a dare. In the late 70s there was a huge comedy explosion. Canada [where Mandel grew up] had a comedy club and there was an amateur show. The people at my table dared me to get up.  

PB: Do people always expect you to crack jokes when they talk to you?

HM: I don’t think I’m a jokester. I don’t like jokes. Everything I do on stage is improvisational and real. It’s my vision of how I see things.

PB: Who are your role models in the industry?

HM: Nobody made an impact on me like Richard Pryor. In the late 70s, he was writing live on Sunset Strip. He was fearless and honest and using the medium of stand-up comedy to act and grow. It taught me not to think about it and be honest. At that time he [Pryor] was burned and near death from freebasing cocaine, but he had the ability to find humor in truth.   

PB: As a judge on AGT, what advice do you give aspiring performers?

HM: Like Nike says, ‘Just do it.’ Don’t think about it. Chances are you’ll win.

PB: Do you have a serious side?

HM: I think humanity is very three-dimensional. It’s very complex. I don’t philosophize. It’s just [important] to be good and respect [others].

PB: What is something interesting that people don’t know about Howie?

HM: I don’t think there’s anything I haven’t talked about. I can’t imagine what else there is.  

PB: What can audiences expect at Ridgefield’s show?

HM: Me! I will show up. I try to make each show different. The more fun it is for me, the more fun it is for them. My show is like a party, except there’s no cake!

PB: What is the most rewarding part of your career?

HM: I look forward to my stage time. It’s my most comfortable time. I’m pretty comfortable with my discomfort.

PB: What is your greatest accomplishment?

HM: My children. I like being a parent. I feel like a pretty lucky person.

PB: When you’re not working, what are your hobbies?

HM: Spending time with my grandchildren.

PB: What’s next for Howie Mandel?

HM: We’re re-launching Deal or No Deal. I’m really excited to bring it back.  

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