Hanging Out with Howie Mandel

“Vancouver is one of my favourite places to hang out,” says Howie Mandel during his speech at the launch party for Just For Laughs Northwest. The show biz mogul opened the festival with “Howie Mandel & Friends”, an LOL-worthy performance at the Orpheum Theatre featuring comic pals such as Roy Wood Jr., Deanne Smith and Matteo Lane.

Howie is no stranger to Vancouver – in fact, he credits the city as helping to launch his sparkling career, which spans more than 30 years. Already renowned, Howie became a household name when he agreed to host popular game show “Deal or No Deal”; and, this past year, he received a nod from Hollywood with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host of a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. He’s also judged “America’s Got Talent” for nine rollercoaster seasons, and recently appeared as a judge on “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”, which premiered in January.

Though Howie is most known for his comedic chops and impeccable hosting abilities, he’s also worked in television, film and onstage; authored a New York Times bestselling book; and performs in as many as 200 stand-up shows annually in the U.S. and Canada. In other words, Howie is a busy guy and he’s seen the world – but despite his far-flung travels, Vancouver continues to hold a special place in his heart. So we sat down with him to get the scoop.

Howie, you’ve said Vancouver is one of your favourite places to visit and perform. Why?

There are so many reasons. First, many of the highlights and opportunities that catapulted my career to the next level happened in Vancouver. “The Alan Hamel Show” was the very first talk show I’d ever been on, the first national talk show – and that happened here. I was also lucky enough to be chosen as host of Expo ’86, at the opening gala with Prince Charles and Princess Di – so I got to meet royalty and do a big show here. I’ve also done a lot of acting in Vancouver.

So, professionally, Vancouver has played an important role in your life. What about personally?

I have a warm place in my heart for Vancouver. Actually, I have a warm place in my heart every time I cross the border. I love Canada, and I’ve always been sad that I had to leave this country to make a living. Vancouver is so near and dear to me. I love the community; I have a lot of friends here. It feels like my second home, both career-wise and personally.

If you were to give your best friend recommendations of your favourite experiences in Vancouver, what would they be?

I like driving up the Sea to Sky Highway, winding through the mountains and taking in the scenery, and visiting Whistler. I also like spending an afternoon ferrying over to Victoria, or taking the seaplane. And the nightlife in Vancouver is amazing. Going to the clubs and checking out the restaurants, hanging out downtown… Vancouver is a big metropolitan hub – it’s very international. It’s a fun place.

After Just for Laughs Northwest, when will you be back in Vancouver?

Whenever I’m invited! Whenever somebody calls me and says, I’ve got a job for you in Vancouver – whether it’s the casino I play at, or theatres, or if a friend’s got something happening in town… I’ll show up. I’ll come here whenever I can, even if I’m not performing – it’s an easy trip, since I live in LA. I just love it up here.

Eager to learn what other notable names in the film industry have to say about Vancouver? Click here.

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