Sunday, February 5, 2012

Here Comes Howie! by Don Stradley

Fans who know Howie Mandel only from Deal or No Deal or America's Got Talent might be in for a surprise when he comes to the Lynn Auditorium on May 20.

You see, Mandel may be notoriously afraid of germs, but he doesn't mind if the jokes are a little dirty.

"There is some adult fare," Mandel has said of his act, which involves a lot of back-and-forth chatter with the audience. "I wouldn't suggest bringing the kids."

It's no surprise that Mandel's stage work is not quite family friendly. After all, his stand-up comedy career extends back to the drug-fueled  1970s, just as American comedians were taking a turn for the weird.

Perhaps inspired by the end of the Vietnam War, or fallout from the 1960s underground culture, the comedians of the late '70s were moving away from political monologues and towards silly new extremes. Gallagher was smashing watermelons with hammers; Andy Kaufman was inviting women onstage to wrestle; and Bruce Baum, a contemporary of Mandel's, appeared onstage wearing a diaper.

Mandel waded into the business like a feisty little brother determined to prove he belonged. Spastic, manic, and infantile, his favorite gag in those days was to place a latex glove over his head and inflate it with his nose. A 1979 performance at the infamous Comedy Store in Los Angeles landed Mandel his first big break, a job on the syndicated game show, Make Me Laugh.

Despite successes that include NBC's St. Elsewhere, the animated series Bobby's World, and  Deal or No Deal,  Mandel has never abandoned his stand-up roots. Along with yearly comedy tours, he's a regular attraction at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  Don't look for the latex glove, though. Sinus problems put an end to that particular stunt.

While Mandel won't temper his act for his new audience, he appreciates the ongoing interest in him. His hot streak continues with his latest show, Mobbed, which drew 10-million viewers for its March debut and was picked up by FOX for eight additional episodes. 

Mandel, 55, told Canadian news site CANOE, "At this point in my career, specifically this time in my life, I have some perspective on what this means, and how lucky this is.”

Comedy fans in Lynn are also lucky, for Mandel is making a rare area appearance.

Just don't bring the kids.

Howie Mandel appears at the Lynn Auditorium on May 20. For ticket information call 781-598-4000.

Fun Facts About Howie Mandel….

- He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins II.

- Before he was a comedian, Mandel worked in a Toronto suburb as a carpet salesman.

- Mandel has been married since 1980 and has three children.

- In 1990 Mandel was considered to replace Howard Hesseman as the lead in ABC's Head of The Class. The role eventually went to Scottish comic Billy Connolly. (Mandel ended up on Good Grief, a FOX comedy about a wisecracking mortician. The show bombed.)

- Mandel was ranked #82 on Comedy Central's 2004 list of the 100 greatest comics of all time.

- While fellow America’s Got Talent  judge Piers Morgan tries to nap in his trailer, Mandel likes to stand outside with a bullhorn, shouting at passersby, "Quiet, please. Mr. Morgan is trying to sleep!"

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