(Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, Canada - October 15th, 2011)
Canadian stand-up comedian, television host, and actor Howie Mandel is these days better known as either the once-host of the NBC game show Deal or No Deal, or as a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent (having replaced David Hasselhoff in the fifth season).
But, before his career as a game show host, Mandel was best known for his role on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere. And, being a voice actor too, he is rather well-known for being the creator and star of the children's cartoon Bobby's World.
And although he hasnít done much in the way of stand-up recently, unless you count his quick wit when he either judges the acts on AGT or is trying to make co-host Piers Morgan squirm alongside him, I assumed going into tonightís show that his routine would be funnier than sh*t - absolutely timeless, worth every penny to both young and old. But, I was sadly very, very wrong!
With a recurring clip from a song by Larry Hooper on the Lawrence Welk Show ('Oh Happy Day') having played several times already on the video screens, John Mendoza was the opening act at 9.15pm. Playing for just 20 minutes, normally I have unwarranted distain for warm-ups (I just want to get to the main act), but BY FAR he was 1000% funnier than anything Mandel-inspired to come! I am so happy I caught his act as Mendoza is a class act, a very funny man, and deserves his own Caesars Windsor show.
As he leaves to a huge round of applause, Howie literally skip-bounces onto the stage to a louder one - the loudest he received all night, in truth. Expecting a completely original routine, perhaps with bouts of his classic stand-up thrown in for good measure, Howie began the night talking about his elevator finger-smelling countermeasure, before doing his usual thing of picking on the security stage front.
One of them, an older man named Frank was his target the entire hour, but being older didn't have the comeback's that Howie was looking to feed off. And yet, Howie kept on and one and on with Frank throughout the show, trying desperately to throw the man a comedic bone. It never quite worked. After making us aware he was from Toronto, ON, Howie then wondered if hair can grow on the butt, and so asked if there was a doctor in the house. All he got, for extended periods of time to chat to was an eye doctor and a Nurse from a nursing home!
The toilet humor soon kicked in with discussions on anal exams and how after one 'real life' proctology exam, after acting up with his own doctor he is now banned for life from his surgery! He then riffs on shopping with his wife, hedgehogs, and even has a chat with various audience members about parrots as household pets. Frank comes back from a break - from sitting stage front to sitting for 20 mins in the break room - so Howie wonders aloud how one can have a break from sitting for a job, to sitting on break!
He than talks about women's clothing, the size '0' dresses, and Shrugs - and how useless they are! Sometimes he does manage to tell a humorous story, sure, but there are no tears of laughter streaming down the faces of the audience. Indeed, for the most part there are huge patches of silence coupled with awkward I-think-I-should-laugh-now snuffles. His interaction with the audience is dicey at best as he cannot hear what they say/shout each time, and so we all have to sit back and watch the clock tick down whilst he and they have a shouting match!
Howie then admits that he has found a way to make every joke funnier re: his 'Ta Da' moment (see photo to right!), and then breaks into Bobby for sixty seconds. But then he actually reveals things that, by the gasping sounds of it, not many knew in the 5000 strong crowd: that he was not only the voice of the Muppet baby Skeeter, but that of Gizmo from the film Gremlins! Then he reveals that they were basically all the same voice, before going into a helium-voice skit that should have been so much better.
Howie then reveals that Allen Funt, creator and original host of the landmark television series Candid Camera, was his original inspiration for comedy. Then he introduces an 'undercover' camera stunt filmed at a Supercuts where he (Howie) was undercover as a hair washer in back - and a bad, chaotic, and yet crazy funny he was too! Now THIS was quite easily the funniest bit of the night!
Not afraid to pull punches, or showcase a sometimes sharp wit and speedy comeback, it's the fact (I think) that he overly tries to convince people heís insane that weighs him down. ADHD, sure, and his admitted Mysophobia aside, I can see that. But a fine line is drawn throughout this entire show that borders on pockets of revelation. And as if more proof was needed, after the video was played, Howie comes back out to more applause, holds up his iPad for an audience group photo, and then tells us all to f**k off and go home!!
Further explaining that he ran out of material long before the Supercuts video even played, Howie then reiterates that he's not joking, that's it for the night ... and then walks off stage glued to his iPad!
Cue house lights ... and bemused audience faces aplenty!
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
Photos by: Paul Medved
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