Howie Mandel on owning Just For Laughs: “I was chasing this”

Howie Mandel recently opened a comedy club bearing his name in Atlantic City, and he’s long been a mainstay judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

But Mandel’s heart has remained in his native Canada, so when Just For Laughs suddenly became a real-life Deal or No Deal for him, the comedian jumped at the opportunity.

“I was chasing this,” Mandel told Ron Bennington in an interview for SiriusXM, “and I wanted to be part of it. My goal was to say: This is a brand. This is, when I grew up, what National Lampoon was to comedy. National Lampoon was a great comedy magazine. But it also became the banner for great comedy movies. It became the banner for anything comedy.”

Mandel continued: “The point is, JFL doesn’t have that. And that’s my goal.”

“I don’t want to change it. I want this to be exactly what it is. I just want to be a brand ambassador and scream it. I want it to live more digitally. We knew that, like on Coachella, you knew that Beyonce had one of the biggest streaming YouTube concerts in the history of YouTube, live from there. It’s amazing that there’s not a big digital footprint from JFL, with all the people who are here. With all of the things that are going on.”

Mandel has hosted a JFL gala for the past couple of years that’s been televised for The CW. So it’ll be interesting to see what he and the festival cook up for 2019.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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