Howie Mandel’s Live Bulimia Gaffe Inspires Copious Apologies: ‘I Am Not Perfect’

Fans who watched America’s Got Talent last night knew it the minute the words escaped Howie Mandel’s lips: an apology was soon to follow.

Tuesday night, after the remarkable yet nauseating performance of The Professional Regurgitator, Mandel seemed to recognize that the feedback flittering through his head probably wasn’t wise to speak out loud.

And he was right. But he did anyway.

Mandel enjoyed the Regurgitator’s act so much that he told the performer, whose real name is Stevie Starr, “This would probably come out wrong, but you, sir, make bulimia entertaining,” CBS News reported.

Yikes.

The audience laughed, but the live response ended there, E! Online noted. No groans, no gasps, no screams of indignation.

Nonetheless, Howie apologized after the next act finished her set. Before he gave his critique — absent of any insensitive jokes this time — Howie apologized profusely, perhaps sensing (or being tapped violently on the shoulder and informed) that the comment would result in some serious heat come morning.

“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.”

For anyone watching the live show, one could tell Mandel was sincerely sorry. But insensitivity aside, the joke was kind of funny and fit the atmosphere of Starr’s performance.

After all, week after week, the performer has taken to the stage to suck in everything from cue balls to razor blades, then cough them back up with a smack to his chest. Though admittedly gross, The Professional Regurgitator has become a favorite — and last night, a predicted winner.

The trick so enraptured Howie that he abandoned all sense of political correctness after he witnessed Starr ingest a half-million dollar ring worn by a nervous Heidi Klum, followed by a small lock and key. Howie’s bulimia joke comes after the act.

In the hours after Mandel’s bulimia joke, enraged fans took to social media to give the comic a serious tongue-lashing, and Howie responded with more apologies.

What do you think? Was Howie Mandel just caught up in the heat of the moment? Or do you think his joke was just plain insensitive?

[Photo Courtesy Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]