Jewish reality TV host Howie Mandel took a hit this week. We can’t feel too sorry for him, considering it’s pretty tacky. What did he do? He made a tasteless joke about bulimia on a live episode of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” as if eating disorders are ever funny.
While Mandel is a comedian–and good comedy often appropriates sensitive topics as fodder–there wasn’t much tact to this one. Reportedly, Mandel was unsure of how the joke would be received even before he said it, according to Deadline:
“Mandel shared his suspicion that the joke would likely not go well but proceeded with it anyway. Capping a rousing judge reaction to the act of a fan favorite, The Regurgitator (Stevie Starr), who swallows objects and then regurgitates them, Mandel said, “this would probably come out wrong, but you, sir, make bulimia entertaining.”
I don’t think it takes an emotional genius to know that bulimia is never entertaining; people die from eating disorders–the crude death rate for bulimia is at a high of 3.9% in 2009 were attributed to bulimia. It’s estimated that up to 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.
At least Mandel did the right thing by apologizing on air later in the same episode:
“I just want to take a second to apologize…I made a comment earlier, it’s live television, I wasn’t thinking. I made light of bulimia, which is a very serious eating disorder and mental health issue. I deal with mental health all the time, and I did something stupid. I should never make light of it. I apologize to anybody that was offended. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes.”
And then again later on Twitter, which means he’s really, really sorry, guys: