America can't get enough of Howie Mandel these days. In addition to his TV work – as a judge on NBC's “America's Got Talent” and as host of the FOX prank show “Mobbed” – the longtime comic still finds time for stand-up dates, much to the delight of his fans. Mandel kicks off a brief run of Florida shows Monday, Jan. 28 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
Boca Raton caught up with Mandel and spoke to the multitalented performer about his stand-up work, the difficulties of living with OCD and ADHD, and why he prefers not being content in his career.
What can South Floridians expect to see during your upcoming performance?
I’ve been in this business for more than 30 years, and I have a great collection of possible material. But I always [hope to be] taken off that beaten path to make each show different and unique. [My shows] are very interactive; the audience seems to take part in them. I look at it like a giant party, and I’m just trying to be the center of attention. The more improvised, unplanned moments the better it is for me and for the audience.
Do you ever draw on your TV experiences for your stand-up shows?
If somebody yells out something then I’m certainly willing to answer it, but I’ll talk about what happened that day, I’ll talk about what’s happening now. People will make requests—everything from doing the “Bobby” voice to questions about things I’m doing. They become part of it. Anything can happen, and that’s the beauty. I do a lot of different things in this business and nothing pleases me more than live performances. The one thing that I always come back to, and always continue to do, is stand-up, because there are no boundaries to what I can do. There are no marks to hit, no lines to recite, there’s no commercials to throw to. Anything could happen. To that end, we should say don’t bring the kids because I don’t edit myself either.
You have juggled so many different avenues in the spotlight. What are you most proud of in your career?
The fact that I have one! Originally I got up on that dare in the late 1970s, and who would think that now, in my late 50s, I’m still being invited places. The opportunity to produce and write and host and act and be an author … nobody is more amazed and pleased and in awe than I am. The fact that this is a job and that I’m going to be showing up at the Hard Rock, that I would gladly pay to go in and see a show, it’s amazing that I can be the show.
You are also a dedicated husband and father. How do you manage to balance it all?
Well you’re assuming I do. I don’t know if I do. It seems like a lot, but truth be told the people coming to the show at the Hard Rock on Monday do a lot more than I do. Showing up at night for a couple of hours and having a really good time doesn’t really seem like a tough job … or you know showing up to tape a few shows in one day. It’s not like the people that work Monday through Friday, for hours and hours on end just to make ends meet. I feel like I’m pretty lucky. I don’t think there’s an amazing secret to balancing it all. I don’t think there’s any real answer to that.
I’d also like to mention that while hosting and performing and experiencing all of your successes, you are managing ADHD and OCD, which you elaborate on in your book “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me.” What is your advice for those struggling with these disorders?
Everybody has issues in life. OCD certainly is not an asset, and if it’s a gift, like I said in my book, I’d like to find out where I can return it. There are answers and there are coping skills. As I speak to you right now, I’m well medicated. I’m surrounded by great help, great processionals, and an incredibly loving, supportive family, and you know I seem to be functioning. But it’s always a struggle. Just the feeling that I’m not alone and there are other people out there that deal with all the same issues is [also comforting.]
During an interview for LifeScript.com, you mentioned that you never feel content. Do you still feel that way today?
Contentment is not a feeling that I’ve ever felt, whether it’s my career or my life, but that’s not a bad thing. Contentment breeds lethargy. I want to be excited about trying to do something. If I was content then I would just take all the same old same old material and do the same old, same old show every night. I like to get myself into a kind of a scary, fun predicament as far as not knowing of where I’m going to go next. I like that excitement.
What can we expect from you in 2013?
It will take me another two weeks to start putting 2013 on my checks. Give me another two weeks, people. Right now, the thing to look forward to is come see me live [Monday] when I’m in town. That’s my first and foremost favorite thing to do, and I can’t wait to be there!