Howie Mandel would be more than happy to give himself fresh competition in comedy.
The veteran humorist and judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” is in the early phases of co-producing, with a Canadian television company, a contest expressly for aspiring comedians. Mandel recalls to Zap2it that he “actually started on a comedy competition called ‘Make Me Laugh,’ and I was thrilled this year with ‘America’s Got Talent’ because a couple of the comedians went really far.
“When I was starting out, you’d go to The Comedy Store, and anybody who was anybody was there to see you … and you could launch your career. Today, it’s really hard to break through all the noise out there, so if I could be of any assistance in giving somebody a platform and finding the next big thing in comedy, I would be thrilled.”
As many competition shows as television has now — including the one he’s already involved in — Mandel reasons, “They’re great soap operas. They really are. I don’t think America will ever get tired of them, if they’re produced well. What you’re really watching is an incredible human journey that is amazingly relatable.
“Somebody who has a passion and a dream is plucked from obscurity, and right in front of our eyes, their life is changed forever. Their dream comes true. On the other side of that, we will watch a train wreck or gawk at a freeway accident. As long as these shows are able to tell really good stories that you can connect with, I don’t think they’ll ever die out.”
In a different variation on that, Mandel’s production company furnished FOX with the March special “Mobbed,” showcasing flash mobs delivering choreographed messages to surprised recipients. The show drew such impressive ratings, the network ordered more of it the next day, and the first of 10 new “Mobbed” programs airs Wednesday, Nov. 23.
With the success FOX has had with such new series as “New Girl,” Mandel likes the timing of his franchise’s return. “I think ‘The X Factor’ is a hit, too,” he says. “I know Simon [Cowell] was throwing out big numbers, but he’s a great showman and a great promoter. By any standard, that is a hit, and it also has lifted FOX to ratings success.”
Mandel expects “Mobbed” to be paired with “The X Factor” regularly starting early in 2012, a prospect that pleases him: “There’s no better way for a network to show support than by boosting you with a great lead-in.”