Howie Do It, "Pilot"

"You've seen other prank shows, other hidden camera shows. Wait till you see Howie Do It!" Better yet, wait till you hear the same bad, groan-worthy pun at least 25 times within the span of 60 minutes. Wait until you've seen a pointless, utterly toothless Candid Camera rip-off so unfunny it makes Ashton Kutcher look like Ricky Gervais. Wait, America, please wait until you hear the chorus of the 1995 Montell Jordan hit "This Is How We Do It" played after so many bland jokes you actually start to feel sorry for Montell Jordan because his creation is being so misused and permanently tarnished in this way. (No amount of residuals could be worth that humiliation.) Please, everyone, just wait, and never stop waiting. Believe me, unless you're a masochist, a critic, or a relative of Howie Mandel's, you don't want to see how Howie does it.

In case you're wondering, and to spare you the considerable trauma, here are a few ways that Howie Mandel does the hidden camera prank show:

1. He does it in front of a live studio audience in what looks like a massive auditorium. I don't know where the Howie Do It Thunderdome full of Howie Mandel superfans is located (probably Canada), and I don't know how the Nitrous Oxide was circulated in such a large space so quickly, but the response to the footage of the pre-taped pranks, and everything Howie Mandel said and did was always thunderous applause and waves of laughter. When the show began, the crowd was on their feet, literally chanting, "Howie! Howie!" It was nothing short of eerie, and clearly meant as a lesson for the home viewing audience. "See? Real, live people do find this funny. It does have a reason for being on the air."

2. He does it with the help of an edgy drummer named (I think) DJ Raffy, who played on stage next to Howie in the center of what looked like a giant drum kit made from pieces of the Stomp! set rendered in Lucite.

3. He does it while wearing a bad Criss Angel-esque wig and mirrored glasses. Ah, Howie Mandel. The bald Criss Angel of comedy.

4. He does it with a collection of rather lame, audition-based hidden camera pranks, including: a guy auditioning for a singing telegram gig who is forced to wear a bunny suit...and then go to a funeral parlor (full of actors)! Another bit involved two guys who were auditioning for the brand new "Weathertainment Channel" who had to endure Howie Angel spraying them in the face with water. Zing?

5. He does it by dressing up as Howie Angel and then pretending to direct a couple who are auditioning for a mouthwash commercial. The couple have to lie in bed and kiss, so Howie Angel's accomplice pulls the husband out of the bed and passionately makes out with his wife (who's in on the "joke") to show him how it's done. Again, zing?

6. He does it by dressing up as Howie Angel and then pretending to be a waiter at a restaurant who sticks his fingers in all the food. Well, not all the food--just the food he's serving to the people who come in during their downtime during...wait for it...an audition!

Why so many audition set-ups? Because that way the mark is clearly asking for it, and therefore nobody can accuse Howie Mandel of being mean. It's all lighthearted, good, clean fun and nobody gets hurt--which wouldn't be so bad if any of that "fun" was even remotely funny. As it stands, Howie Do It is at best thoroughly dull. At worst, it's irritating enough to qualify as grounds for Howie Mandel's deportation back to Canada.

Grade: F

--"In this next bit, my son is playing a master dater [pause for laughter which comes far too quickly] Well, I don't know. He has his own room!" The puns never stop.

--Oh, NBC, so much to answer for.

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