Jonathan Mangum has been funny as far back as he can remember. Whether it’s being a featured performer on Whose Line Is It Anyway? or his current gig as announcer slash sidekick on the revival of Let’s Make A Deal, he knows how to get an audience laughing.
We connected with Jonathan on Tuesday to find out about his recent experience co-hosting The Late Late Show, his slate of live performances alongside longtime collaborator Wayne Brady, and what he considers the most memorable moment of his career.
Most recently, you saw him alongside Wayne as the two guest hosted CBS’s The Late Late Show, an experience he’s still raving about. “It was so great,” he enthused. “As comedians, you want to be as funny as possible and we do end up making a lot of funny on the daytime show, but it is daytime. There are certain things you can and can’t do.
“We had a blast,” Jonathan told us. “We had William Shatner on, who Wayne and I both are super nerds for that kind of stuff!”
The job’s another feather in his hosting and announcing cap, added to the six years and counting he’s been the announcer and then some on Let’s Make A Deal. Did he ever previously see himself venturing into being a TV personality?
“Nope,” he laughed. “You have no way of knowing what’s going to happen in this business..The vast majority of us are just being bounced around and seeing where you end up. I’m just excited to be employed and still get to be funny.”
It’s a big plus that he’s still working alongside Wayne, the frequent collaborator whom he’s known since 1991. “We know each other really well,” Jonathan explained. “We also have seen each other change over the years too. He had a kid [and] I had a kid a year later. We’re getting older…I’ve been growing old with Mr. Brady.”
Their partnership has been a part of almost every major project in their careers; we’ve seen them both on episodes of Whose Line, GSN’s Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza and ABC’s Trust Us With Your Life. Where one is, the other probably isn’t that far behind – and that extends to their current live shows, as Wayne and Jonathan are about to leave the TV studio behind to take to the road.
“The live show is anywhere from rated PG-13 to rated NC-17,” laughed Jonathan, who’s currently at the Tempe Improv in Tempe, AZ before they’ll head to Las Vegas’s Mirage Hotel and Casino on February 27. “We literally will have no filters. We’ll say what we want when we want.”
Other tour dates include Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on February 28, Indiana on March 7, Florida on March 13, a second Vegas show on April 17, and Atlantic City’s Borgata on May 2.
During all this, Jonathan will be heading back for not only the seventh season of Let’s Make A Deal, but also to tape more episodes of the recommissioned Whose Line in March, and he told us the CW series is almost exactly like the ABC version.
“The only difference is that Drew [Carey] lost weight and turned into a black woman [new host Aisha Tyler],” he quipped. “There are some new games we play and there’s small changes, but what made the original show so great was just the formula of that show.” More Whose Line is tentatively expected to air this September.
His is another story of a Whose Line alum whose career blossomed in an unexpected direction. He, Wayne and Drew are all successfully working in daytime TV, while most famously Chip Esten is now one of the stars of ABC’s drama series Nashville. Aside from a one-episode appearance on NCIS, we haven’t seen Jonathan do much drama, but he wouldn’t rule it out someday.
“I’d do anything. If someone offers me a job, I never say no,” he said. “I’m good at comedy. I think I’m good at drama too. But I don’t get that many opportunities for drama at the moment. The pressure is way off doing drama. You don’t have to deliver a punchline or be funny.”
Yet he’s made a whole career out of being funny, and brightening up the lives of audiences in daytime, in primetime, and now in late night. Wherever Jonathan goes, you know something hilarious is going to follow. And he’s one of those good guys who never fails to put a smile on someone’s face.
After everything he’s accomplished, ask him what moment he still can’t believe happened to him, and it goes right back to the show that we first fell in love with him on all those years ago.
“I love doing Let’s Make A Deal, and it’s been a success and probably the most attention I’ve gotten because of that show,” he reflected. “It was a 20-year journey to get to Whose Line. I’ve been doing improv games since I was 19 years old, every weekend of my life. Every weekend night of my life into my 40’s.
“And then I was able to get on Whose Line. Even more than Saturday Night Live, which I had a chance to come real close on, just getting on that show was, I was overjoyed and it was a lifelong goal…None of it mattered as much as doing it the first time and getting on it.”
He’s since gone on to some fantastic and fantastically hilarious things, but one fact is always true: this is a guy you can count on to make life funnier.
Let’s Make A Deal airs weekdays at 9 AM ET/PT on CBS; for more with Jonathan, including the latest on live performances, visit his official website (jonathanmangum.com) and follow him on Twitter (@Mangum1).