It's open-mic night at the local comedy club, and your buddies are eggin' you on to tell the audience that joke about the priest and the rabbi. But you're reluctant, so they up the ante.
"Come on, I double-dare you!"
"Well, then... You leave me no choice: I triple-dog-dareyou!"
At this point, your fate's pretty much decided, so you take the stage and dish it out, hoping for a laugh or two. Little do you know, however, that a big-shot Hollywood producer is there watching your performance. And loving it.
OK, so that's not exactly how Howie Mandel got started, but it's pretty close. In 1979, a few of the comedian's pals issued him such a challenge at the legendary Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Lo and behold, a producer was in the audience, and Mandel was hired on the spot. His first big break was appearing in the comedy game show Make Me Laugh. He must have made someone laugh pretty hard, as the offers didn't stop there. Mandel soon found himself opening for Diana Ross, and later, starring as Dr. Wayne Fiscus on NBC's mega-hit St. Elsewhere.
However, some of Mandel's best-known performances were from behind the screen, as voice-overs. Remember Gizmo, the adorable little ball of fur in The Gremlins? That was Mandel behind the little "urs" and "ooms" you heard emanating from the mogwai. Mandel's penchant for squeaky voices led him to create the popular Bobby's World cartoon in the 1990s.
Now Mandel is back on the standup circuit, performing his helium-flavored shtick Friday, April 2, at Gulfstream Park.
So the next time your buddies dare you to take the stage on open-mic night, do it. You too could end up as an almost-famous comedian with occasional residual checks landing in your mailbox.