Howie Mandel, judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and host of “Deal or No Deal,” took the spotlight on June 11 at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School’s 2015 Spotlight fundraiser.
Performing in the sanctuary, which Mandel admitted was a strange feeling, allowed him to take advantage of the heritage and background he shared with the audience and resulted in many crowd-pleasing jokes.
The Jewish comedian began his road to fame at a small comedy club, Yuk-Yuk’s in Toronto, where he was featured and billed as “a wild and crazy borderline psychotic.”
“How did they know?” Mandel said to ABC News in a 2009 interview.
Several years ago, Mandel went public with his mysophobia, an irrational fear of germs, which has controlled his life personally and publically. As the host of “Deal or No Deal,” he always greets guests with a fist bump or hug but never a handshake.
Mandel authored a book, “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me,” where he went into detail about how he’s battled a fear of germs since he was a child, so much so, he refuses to shake hands with anyone unless he is wearing latex gloves.
“Handrails are my worst enemy,” Mandel said to ABC News.
Although he greeted families before the June 11 show with fist bumps, when Mandel got on stage he was noticeably relaxed and willing to touch the handrails near the bimah.
In “America’s Got Talent” Season 10, Mandel allowed himself to be hypnotized by a contestant who managed to convince him to shake hands with his fellow judges, Heidi Klum, Mel B. and Howard Stern. Although he didn’t know what had happened in the moment, he later stated he felt betrayed, and the contestant did not cure him.
Mandel still battles his mysophobia but jokes and speaks publically about it.
At one point, an audience member suggested Mandel to take a look behind the Torah ark curtain.
“No, I can’t do that! I’d have to give you all an aliyah,” Mandel replied. “When the rabbi gets the Torah, he has you open the door, and you say three prayers, and you lift the Torah. Aliyah is Hebrew for the rabbi doesn’t do [jack].”