BWW Feature: AN EVENING WITH HOWIE MANDEL at Paris Theater At Paris Las Vegas
While television audiences love Howie Mandel on "America's Got Talent," and "Deal or No Deal," his first love is stand-up comedy. He returns to Las Vegas to perform "An Evening With Howie Mandel," a one-night-only night of comedy in the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas on Nov. 30.
Mandel has been performing comedy since 1978. During a trip to Los Angeles, Mandel performed at The Comedy Store and was hired as a regular performer. Today, he continues to tour with his comedy. Mandel spoke with BroadwayWorld.com about his love of live performances and connecting with his audiences.
Why do you continue to perform stand-up?
Howie Mandel: Stand-up is my first love. I have always done stand-up and never really stopped. Up until 10 years ago, I was performing 300 nights a year on the road. Now that I have other commitments, I am performing 100 nights a year.
It is the only real adrenaline rush I get because I am there and live in front of an audience whose reaction is immediate. I get to meet real people in real places outside of a studio. I love performing outside of Los Angeles or New York City. This is where I started, where I live, and where I want to be.
How has performing changed for you over the years?
Howie Mandel: I look at it like it is a big party, and I am the center of attention.
Still, today, it just takes one word or wrong perception, and that can stop a career. It is because of the advent of political correctness, and recordings that can be shown and be taken out of context. Performing is a little more dangerous than before when I began, but there is also the thrill of trying to balance myself in that world.
Who influenced you and your comedy?
Howie Mandel: When I moved to Los Angeles in the late '70s, there was one person who really affected me, and that was Richard Pryor. I think he was the bravest and most original with informed comedy. He was using his life, which could be considered tragic, growing up in a brothel and facing drug addiction. Somehow, Richard made that funny. There were no boundaries on what you could do on stage.
How have audiences changed?
Howie Mandel: There was a time when you said something that was over the edge, you could say something like you're kidding or only joking, and that was okay with the audience. That is not true today.
What do you think of Las Vegas and its entertainment?
Howie Mandel: I love Vegas. The audiences in Vegas, even the locals, are from somewhere else such as the Midwest, north, or south so I can perform to a diverse audience. My thought is that if I can do well in Vegas, I can perform anywhere.
In fact, my first performance in Las Vegas was opening for Diana Ross at Caesars Palace in the old Circus Maximus showroom. It started when I appeared on The Merv Griffin Show. Gene Simmons of Kiss called me, told me he thought I was funny and asked if I wanted to open for his girlfriend. I didn't know his girlfriend was Diana Ross and she was the headliner at Caesars Palace.
When Circus Maximus was torn down to build the Colosseum, I got the center booth, which is in my office in Los Angeles. I was even invited to Diana's 75th birthday recently.
What drives you to perform?
Howie Mandel: My comfortable spot is my discomfort on stage. It is not a secret that I have struggled with mental health my entire career. The hardest thing to do is be present in the now. Nothing makes you more present than standing in a room full of strangers that paid to have you make them laugh.