Howie Mandel made a bulimia joke on live television & people got upset

Howie Mandel

There was a controversy last night during a live broadcast of America’s Got Talent, which is perhaps the most attention the show has ever received on Twitter. I guess Howie Mandel stepped in it by making a bulimia joke, which couldn’t be edited out before it hit the airwaves. This is all very bizarre, but there was an act called The Regurgitator (Stevie Starr), who was an audience favorite. His talent, obviously, is to swallow stuff and throw it back up. Howie, who was perhaps trying to cope with what he witnessed, said, “this would probably come out wrong, but you, sir, make bulimia entertaining.

Howie didn’t think before speaking. I’m not making excuses for his remark, but he was probably freaking out inside — with his rampant OCD on red alert — while trying to cope with the presence of possible bodily fluids in his presence. Twitter got a little upset at the joke:

Since this was a live broadcast, Howie was able to see the social media reaction to his ill-advised comment He preempted a later show segment to say, “I just want to take a second to apologize.” He then apologized on Twitter. Is all forgiven?

Here’s the video clip of the segment where Howie cracks the bad joke.

Howie Mandel

Photos courtesy of WENN

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27 Responses to “Howie Mandel made a bulimia joke on live television & people got upset”

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  1. NewWester says:

    ” The Regurgitator” I am glad I missed that act

  2. mimi says:

    Damn I would puke if I saw that on TV. (The regurgitator)

    Also, I suffer from an eating disorder (not bulimia), and I wasn’t offended. Meh.

    • j. says:

      I watched the video out of curiousity and it looks more like a magic trick than anything gross. He “swallows” things and then “regurgitates” them in a different order and attached a clip to a coin while it was supposedly inside his stomach.

      No way is it real and there was no hint of bodily fluids. I didn’t even see a little bit of spit.

      • mimi says:

        thanks for the info. Still, just the simple thought of it makes me a little sick, haha. I better not watch it 😉

  3. Shambles says:

    Obviously the wrong choice of words, and he probably should have known to apologize as soon as he said it. At the same time, I would have said some crazy sh!t if I was watching someone throw up in front of me, again and again and again. The very idea makes my whole being cringe. Not excusing what he chose to say, because it wasn’t cool. But I can’t hate him for this one.

    • meme says:

      then why should he have apologized the moment he said? I think he’s a complete pussy for apologizing at all.

      • belle de jour says:

        Sigh. I really wish he hadn’t apologized for a joke – even if it wasn’t particularly funny.

        But he is not in a nightclub: he’s voluntarily part of a lucrative franchise – complete with corporate media overlords and advertisers – reaching a general mass audience; I imagine that had something to do with the speedy sensitivity as well.

  4. Tentacle Kitten says:

    I think it’s more a case of people needing something to start clutching their pearls over.

    • Krista says:

      Yeah. People think they should be offended by this, so they are.

      • Chinoiserie says:

        Yeah, that is what I though. Joking about bulimia sounds offensive in theory but I do not think many people got genuinely upset.

  5. Mayamae says:


  6. dr mantis toboggan says:

    Yawn. Outrage, rinse, repeat.

  7. j. says:

    Jesus Christ, people need to grow up. He in no way “punched down” or said anything the least bit offensive.

  8. Imo says:

    He gets a very strong finger wag from me but I can’t ship the outrage for this.

  9. lucy2 says:

    You know, it must really suck to be a comedian in this day and age. Pretty much anything you joke about, there’s going to be someone saying “a joke about _____ should never be made!”
    Not the best choice of words, but also not worthy of outrage. He dealt with it promptly, and it’s one of the few times the “if you were offended” apology doesn’t make me eye roll.

  10. Guesto says:

    *slightly loses will to live* How is this even a thing??

    As for not making jokes about bulimia, I hope those who are hissing and spitting on twitter are equally hissy and spitty about any/ALL jokes that have a pop at some type of addictive behaviour. Otherwise, sit yourselves down, stop being so precious and get a sense of humour.

    • To my experience many people in the anti-eating disorder crowd need to get a sense of humour…but then how would they be so super super serial about their super hard problems that make them so special and unique?

  11. Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

    He’s a happy looking chap. I’ll give him that.

  12. Decorative Item says:

    Bulimia is a BIG issue in my family. Been watching family members slowly kill themselves for years. Not to mention having to deal with the massive changes it makes to their personalities. Still, this joke was not offensive to me at all. And, personally, I’m sick to death of people freaking out every time someone says anything even slightly controversial. And, guess what else. Sometimes, to release stress and help the family cope, we will make fun of it too. And, if you don’t like that, then you can stick it in your ear for all I care.

    • lkaye says:

      So true!! I have an idea, how about every time someone says something that could even be remotely controversial we don’t immediately go to twitter to see what people are saying! Who cares!!

    • Ms. Lib says:

      Good point! I watched this, heard the Howie remark and cringed. But the cringe came from the whole act which was DISGUSTING! I don’t know how the judges could consider this a great act; maybe at the State Fair or the traveling circus but not AGT. Sure hope he doesn’t win…

  13. Kath says:

    As someone who has had plenty of eating disorders, I say ENOUGH with the faux outrage and internet pile-ons. Everything offends everyone these days and I’m sick of the phony outrage and humour bypass of the modern world. The joke was fine.

    • bokchoi says:

      i agree, and thank you for speaking out from the perspective of someone who has dealt with the exact issue. Howie apologized on camera the very next time it was his turn to speak, and referenced his own mental illness and that he was stupid to say it.

  14. Ms. Lib says:

    PS – I love Howie and think he is hysterical!

  15. meme says:

    jeebus, the world has become a planet of whiners offended by anything and everything, clutching their pearls in dismay and demanding an apology. College kids don’t want Seinfeld or Louis CK at their colleges because they might say something politically incorrect; some other college students are whining about a book they have been told to read because it’s about a gay woman and her relationship with her gay father. STOP WHINING. So you’re offended? BFD. Get over it.

    I have no respect for him now that he caved and apologized. yeah, give those whiners more power.

    • FingerBinger says:

      He shouldn’t have apologized but it’s a family show. He doesn’t want to lose viewers.