Howie Mandel got his start as an eccentric, neurotic stand-up comedian. His act involved using babies' voices, freaking out, and blowing up surgical gloves over his head with his nose.
His big break came when he landed a role on St. Elsewhere and had a series of jobs in television with the animated Bobby's World, The Howie Mandel Show, and several others. Today, he can be seen as the host of the wildly popular NBC game show Deal or No Deal.
Mandel took time out of his schedule to talk with TV.com about his new gig, his past as a stand-up comedian, and why Deal or no Deal--an international sensation--just didn't work in Israel.
TV.com: What do you think the appeal of Deal or No Deal is?
Howie Mandel: The simplicity of the show. It's incredibly relatable. You hear the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the contestants. There are gorgeous women, a huge amount of money, and people at home can win $1 million in the third season. We're also going to make it easier for people to win a million dollars with the Million Dollar Mission, where every time someone doesn't win a million dollars we add a case with a million. And at some point during this season, we're going to be giving a possibility of $100 million.
TV.com: $100 million? How can NBC afford that?
Howie Mandel: I don't know...I don't know.
TV.com: What other kinds of twists can we expect in season three?
Howie Mandel: Well, we started the season with a surprise banker, Donald Trump. We have an NFL show with superstars from the NFL, we have big celebrities stopping by, and big reunions There's always a bunch of surprises. Huge surprises, hot women, and me.
TV.com: Do you ever watch the contestants and know they're going to make a wrong choice or want to punch them to just take the deal?
Howie Mandel: That's the toughest part of my job...to not throttle somebody and tell them to take the deal and get out of here now. I can't and I don't. I do when I watch it later on TV, though. I sit on the couch and scream and say all the things I wish I could. But sometimes it's incredibly heartbreaking; most of the time it's incredibly thrilling. But it's my best job I've had to date.
TV.com: How would you play the game? What is your strategy?
Howie Mandel: I would play very conservatively...I wouldn't be a good contestant. It would be very boring to watch because someone would make me an offer and I'd be out of there in eight seconds. $4,000? Done, I'm out, I'm going home. That would be me. Not such a good game to watch.
But I like the "go for it" attitude. I like that people go for it. That's what makes America great. I came down here from Canada to make it. What were the chances of me making it in show business as a comedian or a host or even getting this game show? So I get it. That's the kind of thing that made this country...is that "go for it" attitude. I wouldn't make the best contestant...I love being the host. And we have an amazing season coming up.
TV.com: I used to watch you do stand-up as a kid. Now you've made the transition to game show host.
Howie Mandel: I still do stand-up. I still do over 200 dates a year. Unlike Deal or No Deal, which is for the entire family, my standup is NOT for the entire family. If you go to Howiemandel.com, you'll find my dates where you can see me live.
TV.com: So your shows are a little more R-rated?
Howie Mandel: Not a little more; just R-rated.
TV.com: Do you still do the surgical glove trick?
Howie Mandel: I can't do that. I'm not allowed to do that. I perforated a sinus so I have a doctor's note that doesn't allow me to do it.
TV.com: Do you watch any of the international versions of the show?
Howie Mandel: Yes! I see them all. I watch them all from all over the world. The first one I saw was the guy who did it in Italy. His name was Pupo. I didn't understand anything he was saying, but I saw him pace with the phone with the banker, and then he turned to the contestant, and he had a little tear drop out of his eye, and it was so dramatic and so great. I just thought to myself, "What an amazing game! The host is crying?"
I didn't understand what he was saying but I understood the game. He was my favorite. I like watching it in non-English speaking countries. I think the only place it didn't work was Israel, but that makes sense, doesn't it? You don't want to open a case packed by a third party anywhere in the Middle East.
TV.com: What other things are you working on?
Howie Mandel: I do these games, "Would You Rather" and "Fact or Crap," some DVD games that are available at K-Mart now. It's a DVD game you could watch on your television. Would you rather, you know, questions like: "Would you rather watch porn with your parents or a porn starring your parents?" Questions like that.
TV.com: I'll go with option A, Howie. Thanks for talking to us.