Entertainment Television

Howie Mandel on germs and mental illness

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

Comic Howie Mandel talks to Jane Stevenson about germs, Donald Trump and his comedy specials. SUBMITTED

Comic Howie Mandel talks to Jane Stevenson about germs, Donald Trump and his comedy specials. SUBMITTED

Howie Mandel — the original “germaphobe” — welcomes Donald Trump to the ranks.

But he’s not sure the president-elect can use it as an excuse after unsubstantiated intelligence documents were dumped this week alleging Trump had some part in a sex act involving bodily fluids in a Russian hotel room.

“I’m thrilled to have somebody else join the club,” said the 61-year-old Toronto-born comic, whose struggles with mysophobia (irrational fear of germs) led to his famous fist bump instead of a handshake with people.

“I don’t know if he’s really the germaphobe I am. And I don’t know that it’s really an excuse for not having done what he (allegedly did) because urine is sterile and showers are good.”

24 Hours caught up with the comedian, who has two CTV specials this month — Howie Mandel All-Star Comedy Gala on Sunday (8 p.m. ET/PT) and Howie Mandel: A Bell Let’s Talk Day Special on Jan. 25 (7 p.m. including CTV Two), down the line from L.A.

Your Sunday night comedy special was taped at the Just For Laughs special in Montréal which I’m assuming you have a long history with?

I do – and anybody that’s a comic does. That is the mecca for anything comedic. A lot of the stars that we know and love today came out of that festival or have showcased at that festival or hosted at that festival or previewed new ideas at that festival, so even to be invited to be a part of it, it’s always been an honour.

Does it feel like now more than ever we need to laugh given the events of 2016?

Laughter for me has always been the panacea to be able to at least survive. So I’ve always gone to laughter. I’ve never been political. I’ve never been one who kind of watched the news and kind of spouted on the news on stage. It’s always been silly, fun, and hopefully uplifting.

You also have a special coming up that deals  with your mental illness?  Why was that important  to you?

Because as somebody that deals with mental health issues, and has as far back as I can remember, I think the only thing that kind of helped me was accidentally talking about it. I realized that talking about it is a bridge to healing. If you talk about it, people open up and tell you or share their stories, and their ideas or recipes towards help. So talking can also remove the stigma.

Are you still enjoying being a judge on America’s Got Talent given you just signed up again for the next season?

I love America’s Got Talent. That doesn’t seem like a job doing that. Like everybody else who watches it in the summer, I was sitting on my couch and watching every episode and commenting and judging without pants on. Now I put on pants and get paid for it. And I got a really good seat!

You’re also the executive producer of Caraoke Showdown Thursday nights on Spike with Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine)?

People call a car service and when the car shows up lo and behold, Craig Robinson is in the driver’s seat. When they get in, just as they get over their surprise about that, the door closes and the whole van becomes a karaoke club and then they’ve got to play all these awkward, funny, karaoke games for cash and prizes before they get to their next destination. And I appear on it from time to time.