Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Howie Mandel was entertaining Las Vegas audiences long before his familiar TV judging and hosting jobs on “America’s Got Talent” and “Deal or No Deal.” The Toronto-born performer and personality happily returns to the Strip’s stand-up stage this week at Paris Las Vegas, in the same room the annual “AGT Live” tour played just weeks ago.
Mandel loves his TV roles but he needs his stand-up comedy gigs.
“My first favorite thing to do is stand-up and that has continued through the years, and I’m still doing as many as I can. The lowest number I’ve done in a year is probably 80,” he says. “But if I took a residency [in Las Vegas] I doubt I’d be able to do all the TV and producing and other stuff. I have the attention span of a gnat and the good news is that makes everything exciting and thrilling, but I cannot wait to be onstage at Paris and be free.”
That freedom to perform in his own unique way has become increasingly precious to Mandel as his career has evolved. He first broke through in the classic comedy clubs of Los Angeles before being cast in the ‘80s TV drama “St. Elsewhere,” and many more small-screen specials and shows followed. He was considering showbiz retirement when producers came calling to have Mandel host the original “Deal or No Deal” in 2007.
“With ‘Deal’ and ‘AGT,’ I love both shows and they’re both good family entertainment. But before and after that stuff, I come from and back to the stage,” he says. “Comedy is like my primal scream. I have to really edit myself on TV. There are a lot of things pre-planned and marks to hit and lines to recite. Stand-up is the most freeing form or exercise I can imagine. There are no boundaries or borders. In this day and age political correctness puts a bit of a damper on it, but when I’m in the throes of what I’m doing, I throw caution to the wind.”
Mandel continues to enjoy his time in Las Vegas, the dream destination for all those aspiring entertainers competing in front of him on “AGT.”
“I think Vegas is the epitome of where anyone wants to be in live entertainment. It’s the gold standard. If you go down the Strip, I bet 70 percent of headliners have something to do with ‘AGT.’ Even if they haven’t competed, they’ve appeared on the show, and that’s exciting.”
Those up-and-comers getting their shot on the Strip reminds Mandel of his first Vegas gig. “Gene Simmons saw me on Merv Griffin’s show and asked me to open for his girlfriend at the time, who was Diana Ross,” he says.
“An Evening with Howie Mandel” will be presented at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 30, at the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas (3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 855-234-7469) and more information can be found at caesars.com.