Alex Mandel is a director and actor who also happens to be the son of famous comedian and game show host Howie Mandel. Alex made a name for himself in movies such as Killer Holiday, Odd Jobs, and Hidden Howie: The Private Life of a Public Nuisance and he also has quite a fan following on YouTube where he posts humorous videos. Alex’s most recent endeavor is his journey into the toy industry when he created a game called “Mouth Guard Challenge” that has become a mass success all over the world. Inspired by the funny way that people talk when they have a dental guard in their mouth, the game is simple, zany, and very funny. Alex recently spoke about his experiences designing it–and his famous father’s reaction:
Meagan Meehan (MM): Legend has it that you got the idea for ‘Mouth Guard Challenge’ after you filmed a video of yourself fooling around with dental equipment. Is this true? If so, how did you come in contact with said dental equipment and what prompted you to record a video?
Alex Mandel (AM): Actually, I was watching a video of a person at the dentist wearing a mouth guard. They tried to say something to the dentist, and you could barely understand him. It wasn’t supposed to be a funny video, but it made me laugh. I quickly ordered some mouth guards online to see if it would be a funny game/challenge to play with friends.
MM: The video you posted went viral! Did this surprise you?
AM: Absolutely! I’ve posted many different types of challenge videos on my YouTube channel. I tend to like coming up with original challenge ideas rather than try a trending one. With the challenges being original ideas, they are sometimes harder for people to come across and don’t typically explode. Next thing I knew, everyone was not only talking about it, they were doing the challenge as well. I saw videos of people I’m a big fan of doing the challenge I came up with. It was an amazing feeling.
MM: How did you go about bringing Mouth Guard to market?
AM: Identity games had come across the Mouth Guard Challenge online and saw how fun and funny it looked. People would constantly ask where to buy the mouth guards and wanted to know some of the funniest things you can do with them. Identity games knew they could take this opportunity. They searched YouTube to see who did it first and found me. That’s where our relationship began, and we’ve had a very successful game ever since.
MM: What has the response of the public been like?
AM: The response has been incredible. I get pictures and videos sent to me every day of people laughing while wearing the mouth guards and having an amazing time. When I ask anyone I come across if they’ve heard of the mouth guard challenge, they immediately know it.
MM: The game includes a lot of challenges/commands in the cards. Do you have any personal favorites?
AM: There are a ton of funny things the cards tell you to do. It allows you to play anywhere when you attempt to say different phrases. My personal favorites are the challenges that are more physical and tend to get pretty messy. Try drinking a glass of water while wearing a Mouth Guard (You’re going to need a towel nearby).
MM: Have you invented anything else? Do you plan to?
AM: I try to make a lot of different original ideas that can potentially be turned into games on the market. The great thing I have is my YouTube channel that acts like a great market testing platform. If it does well on my channel, there’s a good chance it’ll do well on the market. I plan to continue coming up with fun original games/challenges!
MM: You are Howie Mandel’s son. What does your father think of this product? Has he played the game?
AM: My dad loves the game and has played with many different people. He’s currently a judge on America’s Got Talent and sent me a picture of him playing it with the other judges.
MM: Can you tell us any cool stories about your dad that you think are especially entertaining?
AM: My dad was the host of a game show called Deal Or No Deal. There are many Deal Or No Deal slot machines in Las Vegas. When we go, my dad enjoys standing behind people until it comes time in the game that they are asked “Deal Or No Deal?” My dad gets their attention and asks them the question. It’s hilarious to see the reactions of the people playing when they realize who he is. One time a lady didn’t recognize him and said, “I watch this game on TV all the time and know how to play it, leave me alone.” That response was definitely one of the funnier ones.
MM: What has been the most rewarding part of creating Mouth Guard?
AM: The most rewarding part is seeing millions of people get so much joy and laughter from an idea I created. The world can always use more fun and laughter. It feels good knowing I’m contributing to that.
MM: What are your career aspirations over the next decade?
AM: I love to entertain in any way I can on any platform available. I’d certainly like to expand my audience in order to entertain as many people as possible. I’d like to have a hand in many different things like YouTube, Television, Movies, Games, Live Streaming, etc. I never want to tie myself down to one thing.
MM: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to be a toy or game designer?
AM: I think the best advice I can give would be to keep going until you find an idea that when people see it, they can’t wait to try it. People get very attached to their ideas and focus too much energy on trying to make that one idea work. Try new ideas all the time and eventually something will stand out from the rest.
MM: Are you currently working on any projects that you would like to mention?
AM: I’m always working on something new. You’ll just have to follow along on my YouTube channel to see what I’m working on next!
[Featured Image by Alex Mandel/Identity Games]