“America’s Got Talent” has gone through many different facelifts at the judging panel, but one person has stayed put for the past 11 seasons: Howie Mandel. This Canadian comedian originally joined up with NBC’s reality TV show in Season 5, where he had big shows to fill as David Hasselhoff‘s replacement. Howie sat beside Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne for two seasons, with Howard Stern stepping in for Piers in Season 7 and Heidi Klum & Mel B taking over for Sharon in Season 8.
Over the past decade Howie has made a name for himself as the funniest and wildest panelist, but also someone with a keen eye for talent. In fact, his Golden Buzzer Grace VanderWaal ended up winning Season 11 and becoming one of the most successful “AGT” acts of all time. Below, see our four reasons why Howie Mandel is simply the best judge on “America’s Got Talent.”
1. His loyalty
Throughout its 15 years on the air, no one has been more loyal to the “AGT” franchise than Howie. Despite being a self-described germophobe, he has never called out sick from work even once over the past 11 seasons. The only other judge that comes close to Howie’s tenure is Heidi, with seven cycles under her belt (Seasons 8-13 & 15). Howie is also a mainstay on “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” NBC’s winter spinoff series that pits successful acts from all around the world against each other.
2. He knows talent
As mentioned above, Howie has an eye for talent, which has never been more true than in Season 11 with Grace VanderWaal. He slammed his hand down on his Golden Buzzer for the singer-ukuleleist after her performance of an original song about being bullied. Some of Howie’s other memorable Golden Buzzer acts include comedian Drew Lynch (Season 10 runner-up), singer Christian Guardino (Season 12 semi-finalist) and singer Courtney Hadwin (Season 13 finalist). During the second season of “AGT: The Champions,” he also pressed his button for eventual winners V.Unbeatable, a danger act from India.
3. He brings the funny
Howie always keeps things fresh and funny on the show, whether it’s stepping onto the Golden Buzzer for singer-rapper Joseph Allen, or getting up and dancing like a ballerina with Dmitry Stadnikov. He’s the biggest champion for stand-up comedians, including Preacher Lawson, Vicki Barbolak and Ryan Niemillera. And just last week, Howie got big laughs when he burped at Kelvin Dukes as a way to make the 14-year-old singer feel better about his prior embarrassing moment. “I can’t believe you just did that,” Simon Cowell scolded. Oh Simon, don’t take yourself so seriously all the time!
4. His bromance with Simon
Speaking of the show’s head judge/producer, his evolving friendship with Howie is one of the best parts of the long-running series. When Simon joined the panel in Season 11 as Howard’s replacement, at first he seemed annoyed by Howie’s silly antics. However, through the years Simon and Howie have developed a special bond that really stands out on camera. “Oh my God, I miss you so much!” Howie said in the premiere when he saw Simon for the first time this season. Heidi then joked that “a lot of sparks are flying” between the two bromance buddies at the judges’ table.