In his first stand-up special in 20 years, Howie Mandel goes to the club that bears his name inside of the Hard Rock in Atlantic City and returns to what got him started.
Like Ellen, Seinfeld, and soon, Ray Romano, Mandel follows the trend of those who left the stage for the screen back to their roots and does so with the same success level. Mandel’s unique quirks and anxiety are, for the most, under control for this hour, but there are moments where you want to reach through the TV and hand him an Adderall. If you can get past that, he’s got great material ranging from our PC culture, to his 40 year marriage, to his own personal problems with germs, anxiety, and hypochondria. His best moments, I thought, weren’t his material. Very few comedians are actually good at true improv and working off the crowd. Most comedians do the same show, same jokes, same material, week after week after week. It’s always refreshing to see someone not only successfully react to the audience, but feed off of it and even encourage it as Mandel does. Clearly not knowing the answers he’s going to get as he finds people to use, his adjustments and responses and ability to weave them into his entire act is just damn impressive.