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September 25, 1992 - Image 121

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-09-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ENTERTAINMENT

Comic Improv

Howie Mandel just fell into comedy, and has been improvising ever since.

SUZANNE CHESSLER

Special to The Jewish News

of even comedian/actor
Howie Mandel knows
what funny remarks he
will make before his audience
tonight at the Palace.
"Most of my act is imnpro-
visation," he explained. "It's
always geared toward whatev-
er's going on that particular
night with the people who are
at that particular show wher-
ever I happen to be.
"It just sort of happens,
which makes it more fun. I
don't really write an act and
open with the same thing each
and every time."
While he draws on favorite
characters like Bobby
from his anima-
tion/live action TV
show "Bobby's
World," which is
Fox Network's
leading chil-
dren's program,
he takes new
directions
with them.

N

"I don't pick a subject and try
to be funny about it. My form
of comedy is just me and my
personality."
Mr. Mandel's entry into
show business also was
improvisational.
While on a business trip to
Los Angeles in 1979, he took
the stage for the first time
during an amateur night at
the Comedy Store. Then the
owner of two retail carpet
shops in Toronto, he simply
wanted to amuse his friends.
"I'd never even been in a
school play," he said.
His three-minute routine,
however, attracted the atten-
tion of a television producer,
who signed him to appear on
a humorous game show,
"Make Me Laugh."
After he returned home, he
received a call offering him a
chance at program develop-
ment. Soon came work on a
television pilot, talk show ap-
pearances and opening act
bookings for headliners such
as former Detroiter Diana
Ross.
Mr. Mandel, now 36, sold
his stores to pursue an enter-
tainment career, discussing
the change from carpeting to
comedy as very logical.
"They both begin with 'c' so
I think it's a natural progres-
sion in the Rolodex," he joked.
"I'm always working," said
Mr. Mandel, who played Dr.
Wayne Fiscus on the Emmy
award-winning series "St.
Elsewhere." He divides his
time now between TV and the
stage.
" 'Bobby's World' is a full-
time series, and I'm just com-
pleting a prime-time special
for Mother's Day on 'Bobby's
World.' We're in the middle of
production on 'The Amazing
Live Sea Monkeys' (a new
CBS children's series), and I
also do cable and tour."
Married for 14 years and
the father of two young
children with a third on the
way, he keeps his family close
by involving them with his
work.
"My kids hang out on the
set, and it's actually fun for
them," he said. "I get a
chance to be with them and
work at the same time. It hap-
pens to be a fringe benefit
that I can do something they
can actually be part of or
watch.

"They'll travel with me all
summer. I'll tour Hawaii, for
instance, and it will become a
family vacation."
Still, there are three days
each year when he is sure not
to work — the High Holidays.
"Nobody will ever see a
Yom Kippur concert with
Howie Mandel," he said.
"Religion is a very important
part of my life."
Although some of his per-
formances seem directed
toward adults and others
toward children, the enter-
tainer sees no significant dif-
ference between the two
audiences.
"I really don't think there's
a difference between adult
comedy and children's com-
edy," he commented. "The
best forms of entertainment
— when you look at movies
like ET or Star Wars — are
enjoyed, I think, by kids as
much as adults.
"Bobby is a character I've
done for many years in my
concert act, and it's always
been a favorite for adults.
Now it just has a wider au-
dience — the kids."
The humorist he personal-
ly enjoys most is Steve Mar-
tin, although he insists he
has never really thought
about why that is so.
"Comedy isn't something
that I think should be, or that
I have ever analyzed," he ex-
plained. "When I watch Steve
Martin, I laugh a lot, and I
don't try to figure out why
he's funny.
"I have followed him right
from the beginning of his
career, and he's always been
somebody I've looked up to."
As Mr. Mandel stops over in
Michigan, he will be remind-
ed of his younger days. His
manager and longtime friend,
Michael Rotenberg, studied
law at the University of
Windsor, and Mr. Mandel
used to visit him there. The
two would cross the border to
enjoy some free time.
Since gaining star recogni-
tion, Mr. Mandel maintains
there has been no major
change in his life. There has
been a small one, though,
which also involves a bit of
improvisation.
"Strangers will watch me
eat in restaurants," he laugh-
ed. "And I love to eat for
strangers!"0

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