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Canadian Jewish News Arts & Travel
April 6, 2000     Nisan 1, 5760

Howie Mandel to headline ICRF gala

Staff Reporter

TORONTO - On a 1998 visit to his hometown, Howie Mandel discovered a comedy club while running an errand for his mother, Evy. He wandered into Comedywood in Thornhill, introduced himself and asked if he could perform. "Come back on amateur night," he was told - until someone recognized the well-known comic behind his goatee.
He can expect a warmer welcome next week. Mandel will be here on Thursday, April 13, to headline the Israel Cancer Research Fund's Gala 2000 at the Hummingbird Centre. The evening is dedicated to the memory of scriptwriter and comedian Marjorie Gross, who died of ovarian cancer.
"This [cause] is kind of near and dear to me," said Mandel, whose father, Albert, a Toronto businessman, also died of cancer.
Speaking by phone from Los Angeles, where he has lived for two decades, Mandel said he was especially motivated to do the benefit when he learned how advanced ICRF research is, and that it helps people around the world. He also remembers Gross from their days at Yuk Yuk's as "a great stand-up and a funny person."
Mandel, 44, never aspired to be in show business, he said. Although he'd done stand-up here as an amateur, it wasn't until a 1979 vacation that a career opportunity arose.

Taking the mike at an L.A. club on a dare, he was noticed by a producer who booked him for a show called Make Me Laugh.
After Mandel returned to his Toronto carpet business, he received more offers, one of which led to a stint as Diana Ross' opening act.
Since then he has played Dr. Wayne Fiscus on the medical drama St. Elsewhere, created and served as executive producer of the children's series Bobby's World, launched an award-winning series of children's educational CD-ROMs, and hosted the Howie Mandel Show, a daily television talk show, from 1998 to 1999. His movie career includes the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins.
"I love that I found this career where I haven't been pigeonholed," he said. "I have the attention span of a gnat."
Most recently, Mandel completed a film called Spin Cycle, which has not yet been released. With his head shaved for the role, he said he looks "like a Jewish Mr. Clean" (a picture can be seen on his web site,
An alumnus of Beth David B'nai Israel Beth Am's Hebrew School and no less than three Toronto high schools (Northview Heights Secondary School, Georges Vanier Secondary School and Newtonbrook Secondary School), Mandel now makes a career out of "everything I've been expelled for."
He grew up in the Bathurst/Finch area, celebrated his bar mitzvah at Beth David, and met his wife Terry at the BBYO House (now the B'nai Brith building) on Hove Street.
He and Terry, a boutique owner, have been married 20 years, and have three children, age 7, 10 and 15.
Nothing changes a person like becoming a parent, Mandel said. "Children teach you much more than you teach them. They teach you patience, priority, what the world and humanity and everything is all about."
His act, he noted, is not for children. His own kids have seen "bits and pieces" of his edited comedy specials and picked up items not intended for their ears. "I've had to sit them down and explain to them, 'Don't you ever, ever talk the way Daddy does - unless it's paying the mortgage'"

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