January 8, 2009 / 8:31 AM / 10 years ago

Howie Mandel yuks it up in hidden-camera show

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Howie Mandel tosses his hat into the hidden-camera arena with “Howie Do It,” a reasonably entertaining piece of whimsy. The show premieres on NBC on Friday, and simultaneously in Canada on Global Television.

Actor Howie Mandel arrives on the red carpet at the 22nd Annual Gemini Awards in Regina, Saskatchewan October 28, 2007. REUTERS/Todd Korol

The improbable “it” guy of the moment — thanks to the monumental success of “Deal or No Deal” — has an annoying habit of always reacting to his own jokes. But the actual situations are fairly clever, and the marks are treated with a degree of quasi-humanity, if not exactly respect.

There’s the poor schmo working for a singing telegram service who is sent, in a bunny suit, to what he discovers is a funeral (actually a set up with actors). He’s forced to sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to the corpse as his grieving widow whimpers nonstop in the front row.

Another segment gauges a husband’s reaction to a plastic surgery nightmare perpetrated on his wife, while another hubby watches his wife get felt up by a commercial producer for what he thought was a tryout for a mouthwash ad.

Mandel does a lot of the heavy lifting in the skits himself, only to reveal his bald-pated identity at the conclusion. He looks to be having a good time, the victims slightly less so. But there have been far nastier hidden-camera efforts than this. Better ones, too. Yet to be sure, in the opening hour, “Howie Do It” at least delivers laughs more often than it inspires groans.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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